JULIA Smith described living with her alcoholic husband as being “hell”.

She was married for more than 20 years before her husband’s addiction caused the relationship to break down. He died from liver failure 10 years ago and had always denied having a problem.

Initially his drinking habits were not noticeable, but problems spiralled.

His drinking took its toll on the family, causing his wife to take on a Saturday job in addition to full-time employment as he would often secretly withdraw money from their account, leaving the couple unable to meet their mortgage payments Mrs Smith from Westhoughton, said: “I always thought he would change his drinking habits, or I thought I could change him.

“I was no match for the effect alcohol had on him. When he’d been drinking, he wouldn’t eat the meals I’d prepared for him.

He often threw them in the bin and then continued drinking.

Eventually, drinking made him depressed and he would sit and cry. When asked why he was crying, he would blame anybody, but himself for causing the problems he felt he had in his life.”

During their marriage he had 20 jobs and long spells of unemployment. His children became too embarrassed to invite friends home and he pawned one of their bikes for drink money.

She added: “He wasn’t working so the only income was mine. Imagine being told of a conversation in the local pub that he said he would pawn his child’s bike, say it was stolen out of the garage at home and claim the insurance for al cohol money.

“I found empty whisky bottles, beer cans and cider bottles hidden in the loft, inside Wellington boots, in the wardrobe, in the garden. There were hundreds over the years.”

Mr Smith was said to have suffered from a catalogue of health problems but he would insist to doctors he did not have a problem. The couple’s holidays would always centre around the pub and the final straw was when he fell asleep outside the dining room in a hotel.

She said: “My children and I spent most of the time without him as he was in the pub all day. He once fell asleep outside the dining room of a four-star Greek hotel when all the other guests were dressed for dinner.

“I never went on holiday with him again after that.”

When she could cope no longer she ended the marriage.

But he would still turn up asking her for money.

Despite being married to an alcoholic Mrs Smith is not put off drinking but will never drink to excess.

She said: “Perhaps I am more mindful than most about drinking too much, but I can’t feel sorry for anybody with a drink problem. If that sounds harsh so be it. I lived with an alcoholic and I know what it’s like.”

Å Some details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.