A healthy Andy McLaren in 2006
Andy McLaren: Tormented
Booze and drugs are usually associated with rock 'n' roll, not football. The story of former Reading footballer Andy McLaren is an inspiring one. Here he reveals how he picked himself up from the depths of his addiction to rebuild his life.
While Andy McLaren was playing for Reading in 2000 he failed a random drugs test and was immediately banned from football.
He then was forced to confront his demons and admit he was an alcohol and cocaine abuser.
He went to a clinic in Glasgow and worked hard to overcome his addiction.
He then resurrected his career with Kilmarnock and gained a national cap when Scotland played Poland.
Now he's written a book called Tormented: The Andy McLaren Story about how he fell foul of drink and drugs and then rebuilt his life.
Here he speaks frankly to BBC Radio Berkshire's Henry Kelly.
Listen to the interview here or read the transcript below.
What sent you to the drink and drugs in the first place? Is it because they were readily available?
"Probably at the start.
"I had stuff from my childhood that had tormented me for a load of years, and the drink and the drugs was a symptom of that. I used them because I didn't feel very good about Andy McLaren.
"I used them as a mechanism to blot out these kind of feelings."
Andy McLaren in 1997
And how bad did it get?
"Pretty bad, at certain parts of my life I contemplated taking my own life because of the pain and I didn't like the person I became with the drink and the drugs, or the way I was treating my family."
Was there any one thing that caused you to stop and seek help?
"Well failing a drug test at Reading was a major turning point in my life. The stuff I was doing didn't sit right with me, I wanted to stop but I didn't know how to stop.
"I could stop drink for maybe a week or two but I couldn't stay stopped.
"The Priory introduced me to Alcoholics Anonymous and to helping myself. You've got to want to stop.
"Alcoholism had just taken over, it was the most important thing in my life. I've not had a drink for seven years now.
"I'm still with Claire (his partner) and my two boys, she's been my rock, I honestly think that if it wasn't for her that I wouldn't be here now, I would have maybe committed suicide."
Andy McLaren's book cover
What advice would you give to younger players?
"I'd make them aware of the pitfalls, that's something I'd really like to go and do is speak to the youngsters at clubs and warn them of the dangers.
"I'm not saying for a minute that there's a problem with drugs in football but there is a drug problem in society so I think it's naive to think that people aren't getting offered them in football."
There's so much money in football, do you think clubs do enough to protect the younger players?
"I think there's a lot more now then what there used to be. It's become silly the money in football. And young football players have lots of money and lots of time on their hands, which isn't a very good cocktail."
What are you doing to earn a living now?
"I'm still playing - with Ayr United in the 2nd Division in Scotland.
"I've enjoyed the last seven years.
"There was a lot of times when I was drinking and taking drugs that football became a job to me and I forgot the fact that football was my first love.
"I've now got that desire and that drive back."
last updated: 19/10/07