"SOMETIMES the hardest thing in the world is admitting you need help. Unlike an opposing centre forward, I finally realised my addiction wasn't something I could tackle on my own. The trouble was, I didn't know where or who to turn to."

Former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams had acknowledged his wake-up call to alcoholism.

Setting up Sporting Chance in September 2000 - one of the world's most innovative centres for the treatment of behavioural problems among sports people - was the end result of his battle and triumph over an addiction that had gripped him tightly.

And it proved to be the refuge where, three years later, Clarke Carlisle began his own recovery from a similar problem.

Four years down the line, having rebuilt his life and a career that had hung in the balance, new Burnley defender Carlisle has reached out in his own way, through community work, to try to prevent youngsters from getting caught in the same traps as he did.

Recovering from his addiction has also steered the 27-year-old back towards his Christian faith, and he admitted he often finds talking about his troubled times a therapeutic experience.

"I would say it keeps it fresh in your memory," he said.

"I'll be loathe to forget, but sometimes life can just wend it's merry and you think everything's great now'. But then I'll go and do the seminar and it kind of refreshes me that you have got it within you to get to this dark place and you were there once. Don't forget how lucky and how blessed you are and don't forget what you do have now.

"Any addiction of any nature, it's a very sneaky beast. It can suck you in very slowly and then all of a sudden pow!' you're in that abyss that's very hard to get out of. So just keeping it fresh, where you are, and counting your blessings day by day."

He added: "The 28 days that I spent at Sporting Chance were 28 of the better days of my life. I know that they helped me re-focus my focus and my attentions onto things that mattered in life, those being my daughter, my wife and my family and my career.

"I was getting sidetracked on a daily basis, just doing things that were destructive as opposed to things that were constructive.

"And also it brought me back to my faith. It brought me back to my God, which is a Christian God, and I'm very grateful for what God did for me through that period and has done for me since."

Before his £200,000 move from Watford to Turf Moor, the Preston-born stopper had seen a football scheme grow from 13 up to 80 children, split into under 14 and over 14 age groups and with the football club eventually getting on board to provide qualified coaches.

Incorporated into those sessions were life skills talks by, for example, members of the Marines and Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd.

"Instead of talking to them about university and stuff that isn't a realistic target to these lads, they talked about things that are going to affect their current situation," said the defender, who signed a three-year deal with the Clarets last month.

"We had days out at the football and they got talks on drugs, sex, ambition - it was a very, very worthwhile project to see the turnaround over the two years.

"Also, Peter Kay (chief executive of Sporting Chance) runs seminars at football clubs with the academies and he goes into housing trusts and youth schemes up and down the country. I'll go and help him talk about substance abuse and stuff like that and offer my twopence worth.

"And I've done other, random stuff. I get letters off people ... there was a pensioners' sports talk forum. There was a bunch of about 15 old folks who I met in a room and talked about sport. It was the most bizarre thing. They asked me to come in and speak and it's almost like telling your life story; giving a testimony about experiences that you've been through and it's really enjoyable.

"I wouldn't be as arrogant as to say I help every person that I talk to because, sometimes, what I'm talking about isn't relevant to that person, or they just don't want to listen to me.

"The reason that I try to do these things is because if it does help one person then it's all been worth it.

"If it helps one person not make the mistake that I made or make the mistakes I make then it's worthwhile. I hope that it does."