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`I am the best person to help Malcolm-I've been through the same kind of drink hell' GIRLFRIEND NURSES SUPERMAC AS HE BATTLES TO BEAT BOOZE.

The girlfriend of fallen soccer hero Malcolm Macdonald revealed last night how she won her own battle against booze and drugs.

The woman whose arm Supermac clung to during his court appearance on drink-drive charges last week was herself hooked on whisky and cocaine.

But Carol Johnson believes that her recovery will help the footballing legend through a harrowing drying-out programme. She revealed: "I have been through the same nightmare that Malcolm is facing now, so I know what it's like. I am the best person to bring him through it."

The People exclusively revealed last week how former Newcastle United, Arsenal and England star Macdonald, 47, was drinking three bottles of whisky a day to cope with his shattered life.

Now he is leaning on Carol, whose own life spiralled out of control after she married hell- raising rock star Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC.

For the past week she has been at Macdonald's bedside in their small Newcastle flat as the former barnstorming centre forward battles to dry out.

"It is a strange thing to go through. I have had no sleep this week," said 45-year-old Carol.

"Malcolm is sedated to take away the shakes. But he keeps waking up in the middle of the night - the time he would normally have a drink.

"He gets the shakes and is having weird dreams and night sweats.

"I keep comforting him and mopping his brow with a cold flannel.

"It's a tough period but we're determined to get through it."

Fresh-faced Carol turned to whisky and cocaine after she was swept from the backstreets of Newcastle to a jet-set lifestyle in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I was a Geordie housewife married at 16 who suddenly found herself plunged into a world full of rock celebrities, limousines and posh mansions.

"It was scary. All those famous people terrified me, so I drank and took drugs to give myself the courage to face them.

"I used to stand in a room full of rock stars, gulp down my Jack Daniel's and then walk across to talk to them.

"Cocaine was widely available and it wasn't long before Brian and I used to take it backstage after shows.

"Everybody was taking it regularly - it was like passing sweets round."

Despite the champagne lifestyle, with posh cars, expensive jewellery and designer clothes, Carol longed to be back with her friends in Newcastle.

"At the end of the day I used to sit in my room and cry my eyes out because I wanted to go back home," she added.

"I was bored and lonely in the States and spending a fortune on cocaine. I did worry that one day I would wake up and my nose would have collapsed.

"It's horrendous. It totally destroys the inside of your nose and you get a horrible taste at the back of your throat. You never ever want to touch it again."

Carol, who first met twice-married Macdonald 23 years ago, added: "Finally I packed my bags and came back home, leaving Brian behind."

But the boozing and drug-taking didn't stop when Carol returned to Britain.

"I used to go on binges all the time," she said. "I went out with Alex Higgins on various occasions. My wild three years drinking with Alex is the equivalent of 30 years for anyone else. He was a hell of a drinker.

"Alex rang me up a few days ago and asked if he could book into my flat alongside Malcolm to dry out.

"Everyone is joking that I will soon be running the Betty Ford Clinic of Newcastle."

But as the drink and drugs took their toll, Carol knew she was on the edge of self-destruction.

"I soon realised that I would die unless I gave it all up," she said.

"I was a mother with two kids. What the hell would they do without me around?"

In a desperate move to kick the twin addictions, she locked herself away in her Newcastle home and became a recluse.

"I didn't go out for two years. I didn't dare socialise because I knew I would be straight back on it all again.

"But I know there is life after alcohol and drugs and that's what I'm trying to tell Malcolm now."

When it comes to heartbreak and financial ruin, Carol's life mirrors Macdonald's own tragedy.

She went from a millionaire's high life to the depths of despair after her bitter divorce from Brian.

Despite her pounds 300,000 settlement, Carol lost everything after ploughing the cash into a restaurant business and later a recording studio.

She entertained a host of stars, including Gazza and Alex Higgins at her trendy Reds Rock Cafe in Newcastle.

"I lost the lot and had to sell the house, my car and move back with my mum."

Carol was so depressed that she even tried suicide by swallowing a handful of pills.

"But I am happier now than I've ever been. I prefer this life to riding around in bloody great limos and huge mansions.

"My life with Malcolm is more important than knocking around with sycophants and stars. I've got hardly anything left at all. I'm on the breadline and this last year has been the worst.

"But thank goodness I met up with Malcolm again. After all we've been through we can relate to each other.

"I have led a similar life to him and we've both paid the price for it."

On Tuesday, Macdonald admitted driving while three times over the limit and will be sentenced by Newcastle magistrates later.
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Author:Newton, Amanda Perthen/Victoria
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 16, 1997
Words:929
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