Richie Paxton, opens on a life in addiction as he continues turning his life around

Richie Paxton, opens on a life in addiction as he continues turning his life around

Former footballer, Richie Paxton, opens on a life in addiction as he continues turning his life around and offers his own, sporting chance

There comes a time in one’s life where you just have to stop, look around, and make some necessary changes; when those changes needed are surrounding that of addiction and mental health, then you know an impasse has almost certainly been reached – that is what happened to ex-footballer, Richie ‘Paco’ Paxton.

Now, according to, and how addiction affects mental health, they say that –

“People may turn to substances like drugs or alcohol for enjoyment, or to try and deal with what’s going on in their lives. But if they became an addiction, those substances can have the opposite effect. An addiction can spiral out of control and take over your life. So, although an addiction can be the result of a mental health problem, it can also cause them.”

That description alone, and relating to that of a sporting perspective, pretty much sums up what Paco’s path has been over the past two decades, from his time at then Football League side, Darlington FC, through the backwaters of the north-east non-league scene whilst encompassing a life of addiction, to his having been clean for a little over two years and the launch of ‘Richie Paxton – Counselling and Coaching’ at the end of 2020.  

After a couple of seasons at Darlington, between 2000 and 2002, one which included a loan spell at Spennymoor United, Richie’s footballing journey would see him appear for, in total, some thirteen clubs in nineteen years, four of which he appeared more than once with having three spells at both Jarrow Roofing and Washington, and two spells at both Sunderland RCA and South Shields.

Behind the scenes however all was not rosy in Paco’s garden, and it would turn sour pretty early in his career, when, as a teenager at Darlington, addiction began taking a firm grip on his life, and a firm grip it was that’s for sure.

“Drink, drugs, gambling,” began Richie, “I cycled between the three from the age of sixteen, when I got a scholarship at Darlington.

“Then, when I was eighteen, my son Dylan died and I used gambling as a pain release whilst ultimately hitting the self-destruct button from within then, the next thing you know, I’d wasted thousands, it was rather quick.

“If I had to put a timeline on it all then my first addiction was definitely football, then gambling took hold, then the drugs and alcohol; the gambling was always an ever-present throughout all the addiction and then I started to drink heavily when I was about 23/24-years-old (football-wise Richie was at South Shields/Jarrow Roofing at the time).”

Over the ensuing years, and between playing both Northern League, and Sunday League football, he would help Humbledon Plains Farm win the famed All England Sunday Cup in 2014 (defeating Oyster Martyrs 5-2 at Ewood Park, Blackburn, and Paco playing the full ninety minutes).

However, as the alcoholism took hold, football, and life in general, would become secondary to the addictions, Paco’s priorities nowhere near where they should have been.

“When I was 26/27-years-old (South Shields, Newcastle Benfield, Sunderland RCA) I just started sacking off Northern League football.

“Once the weekend came around, bearing in mind I’m playing Saturday and Sunday, then I just wanted to get off my face and, for a good fourteen years of my life, there was something every day.

“Cocaine would take over my life when in my mid-thirties and it just increased, so much so that it started affecting my work life, I was even snorting lines in the bathroom when I was on my breaks.  

“Then the gambling hit me again until, one day, my mam came in and just put some business cards on the coffee table and said to me, ‘You might want to use one of those, son!’”

Since then, Richie has turned his life around completely, thanks in no small part to Sporting Chance and, in recent years, he’s been helping the elderly via his LIFE Programme, LIFE being Lifestyle, Independence, Fitness, Education, and is a programme that’s designed to improve those suffering long-term illness and for older adults.

In addition, as he nears the completion of a counselling degree at Sunderland University, has launched that of ‘Richie Paxton – Counselling and Coaching,’ an extenuation of his own, personal rehabilitation whilst also giving back to those in need themselves.

“I feel in myself that I can spot a mile off people who are going through similar to what I went through myself and it’s over two years now that I’ve been clean.

“Football did end up being an excuse for me to go and get wrecked so, moving forward, I want to eventually launch a programme that will help the younger generation, those coming out of sports academies like I did twenty years ago, because they will struggle.

“I also know that this will only happen once I’ve built up trusting relationships.

“I’m not going to sit and wait for perfection though as I know that nothing ever is and this can, and will, be a work in progress and something that can be added to as time progresses.”

To aid those early, tentative steps into a new world for Richie, he’ll be launching his website with an accompanying e-book entitled ‘Every Day’ and which provides six, daily tasks in which he used himself to aid in the management of his addictions, and his mental health.

Keep up-to-date with proceedings via the ‘Richie Paxton Counselling and Coaching’ Facebook page and Twitter @richiepaxton whilst all media requests are to be directed to Inside Mann Media & PR via