Chris Gascoyne health: Soap star on ‘drinker’s guilt’ following 10-year alcohol battle

Bill Roache looks back on his Coronation Street girlfriends

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In order to dedicate himself to his craft, last year Gascoyne went “full method” when depicting Peter’s deterioration due to alcohol. Dramatically losing weight in real life, Gascoyne was supported by Coronation Street boss Ian MacLeod in order to make the storyline as “visually shocking” and realistic as possible. The harrowing storyline not only saw Peter struggle physically and mentally due to his alcoholism, but tackled the effects this had on his on-screen long term partner and wife Carla Connor (Alison King). A few years before taking on the challenge of Peter’s alcoholic storyline, Gascoyne spoke openly about his own struggle with alcohol in the past, saying that he could “definitely relate” to his character.

Speaking back in 2011, Gascoyne said: “I’m not saying that I was ever an alcoholic but I’ve overcome problems with drink. I think there are low times in everybody’s life, mostly the time when we’re overcoming problems.

“There have been lots of low points in my life and that’s where you learn and get your strength to get through it and come back to the good place.

“But anybody who drinks to excess should know it will cause you problems.”

The actor’s problems with alcohol led to him being banned from driving for a year along with a £500 fine, after being caught drink driving in Wales, something that he thought soap producers used to inspire his character’s storyline.

He added: “I think the storyline was a bit of a dig. I suppose it was their way of giving me a little bit of a slap on the wrists for what happened. But I admitted it and was banned from driving for a year.”

The star also spoke about what motivated him to drink in his earlier years, commenting on the “drinking culture” that romanticises the activity.

“I’ve kind of been there myself – when I was younger I did used to drink an awful lot. I think you get seduced by it when you’re a young actor,” he continued.

“You’re surrounded by a drinking culture and it’s almost a romantic thing. Everywhere you go it’s there.

“I still like a night out, but it had gone past that to a pointless place where I was always looking to seek oblivion in it. You come home and you’re hungover and you get drinker’s guilt.”

Along with what he called “drinker’s guilt”, the actor went on to explain how alcohol affected his mental health and relationships with those around him.

He added: “You feel depressed and ill and wonder what you’ve said to people.

“Then you vow never to do it again, until it gets to opening time and then you think you’ll have a drink and those feelings stop.

“It went on for a good 10 years, but after a while I realised I was drinking for reasons that were no longer social. It was no longer purely about having a good time.

“I was never an alcoholic, but a lot of us have problems with alcohol – anything that affects your life or your judgement is a problem.”

It is due to these catastrophic effects that alcohol can have on an individual’s health that the NHS recommends individuals not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. This is equal to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of lower-strength wine.

Over a longer period of time, drinking large amounts of alcohol can damage many organs including the brain, nervous system, heart, liver and the pancreas.

Heavy drinking can also increase blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for life-threatening conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
Specific health risks associated with alcohol misuse include the following:

  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bowel cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Sexual problems, such as impotence or premature ejaculation
  • Infertility.

Alongside physical effects on the body, alcohol misuse can cause negative effects on their mental health. This includes anxiety and stress which can affect the brain’s ability to stay balanced and run smoothly.

For help and advice concerning alcohol problems, contact the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).

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