A MAN with more than 300 criminal convictions, who became so dependant on alcohol he once drank hospital hand gel, has told of his determination to turn his life around.

Jason Howard, who has been sober for six months, used to be arrested 'three or four times a week'in Blackburn town centre and has 15 jail sentences to his name.

But now he is enjoying the festive period in the early stages of recovery from alcohol addiction, and admitted he felt 'like a different person'.

Experts at the rehab centre where Jason has spent the past six months have praised his 'remarkable achievement', but warned there was a long road ahead.

The 30-year-old, brought up in the Griffin area of Blackburn, said: “Last Christmas I got myself arrested just so I could be in the warm. And other years I didn’t even know it was Christmas. When you are on the street you don’t even know what day it is.

”I thought it was clever to be out of my head on alcohol and drugs.

“But it’s a horrible life, and affects lots of people that are younger than me.

“I went from being a young man, drinking on the streets, to being a full-blown alcoholic.

“Everyone was growing up, and getting jobs, except for me.

“My health started failing. I would improve for a bit then I would think ‘a bottle of vodka won’t hurt’, and it would set me off again. I was always in hospital with alcohol poisoning.”

It was during a spell at Royal Blackburn Hospital that Jason resorted to diluting the potentially lethal superbug gel in an attempt to stay drunk. The episode came out in court and was reported in the Lancashire Telegraph in March.

“Looking back, I am embarrassed”, he said.

“It’s a horrible feeling, but you water it down and put pop with it. They all do it when they’ve got no cash.”

After knowing about the scheme for a number of years, this year Jason enrolled with the THOMAS (Those on the margins of a society) project at Witton Bank, and he has almost completed the first stage of a rehabilitation programme.

He said: "I couldn’t believe what I had turned into.

"I am completely different when I am sober. I know I can never have another drink again."

Father Jim McCartney, the chief executive of THOMAS, said: “Jason is doing well, but there is still a long way to go.

“The whole process of rehabilitation is a journey, and it will probably take a few years to get him to a sustainable way of functioning.

“But he is making good progress, and he has totally transformed his life in the past six months.”