“Most of my life I’ve been in some sort of addiction, right from being a child. From the age of twelve I used to steal money from my mother for slot-machines and stuff like that, but I never knew I had a problem I just used to do that. I left school and got involved in crime, started sniffing glue; went from sniffing glue to amphetamines. I stopped doing amphetamines for a while, settled down with a girlfriend, had my first child with her at the age of twenty-one. My girlfriend became pregnant again a year-and-a-half later, by then I’d started doing amphetamines again; slowly my relationship was breaking down, it came to an end and I just started hitting the clubs and drinking.
I got back into amphetamines again, drink and amphetamines; I did a bit of heroin in between, did all the pills and stuff like that; but it didn’t seem like a problem then because I was working. I had a job and was working full time. I worked my way up from being a labourer to a warehouse and transport manager. I bought my own house and I got into another relationship. I’d been in it about two years before I picked up amphetamines again – this time, big time. I used to start taking amphetamine at work in a morning and I was taking it all day. I was even getting dealers to come to work.
I started neglecting my partner – and my mortgage payments. I started stealing from work and selling it. I had a massive affair with somebody and I tried to keep it all going, even though I knew it was all going to go really, badly wrong. I could see it was all going to go wrong and it all did go wrong; it all went wrong within a week. I’d been neglecting all my post and everything like that, I came home from work and my partner had left me, I’d got a repossession order on my house and I got sacked from work.
I managed to get hold of a little Ford Escort van. I lived in that for about two years.
All that time I’d got back into doing drugs really big-style; I got involved in forgery, fraud and deception. I was doing heroin on a daily basis. I managed to get onto a script for Methadone, but I still carried on using heroin on top, but I’d calmed down, I wasn’t using as much and my shoplifting wasn’t as bad. I went onto super-strength cans and I was having them on a daily basis, and I picked up sleepers as well.
That carried on for roughly ten years. I got my heroin under control, I met a new partner and I started cutting my Methadone down. But as my Methadone was going down my drink was going up and I hadn’t noticed. I was drinking really heavily every day; I was drinking super-strength every day. The more my Methadone went down the more my drink went up. I got off the Methadone, I was still on the sleepers and I picked up the amphetamines again. Then I got off the sleepers, got off the amphetamine and I was left with the alcohol.
I’d been through services, I’d been in treatment for about fifteen years I think but I’d never actually been able to get off any of the substances I’d started, and once again my life was going tits up. One day the treatment centre suggested that I get involved with Conn3ct. I went up to Conn3ct, saw one of my old friends up there and I couldn’t believe he was doing what he was doing (working) and something changed inside me and I thought ‘I want this’. Then I got brought to The Basement Project, I was told what they did; they mentioned that word ‘abstinence’ to me and I shit myself because there’s no way you can live life without drink or drugs right?, it’s impossible – there is no life without drink or drugs.
I came in and started doing the groups but I was still drinking pretty heavily at the time, I was drinking four tins before I even set off over here on the bus. I used to sit in the meetings and all I could think about was getting out of there and getting a drink as soon as the meeting was over. And they kept on suggesting ‘‘it’s time to do your detox’ and I kept putting it off at any chance, I even put it off for The Queen’s birthday because you could drink legally in the street. I finally got my detox, I did a home detox. I can’t remember much about that, I think I slept through most of it. I came back out of that and continued doing all my groups. I found I had a problem listening because I’d listened to my own head for so long, and trying to listen to someone else talking, my head just wouldn’t shut up; it was a right mess, my head.
I also had a massive stage where I suffered psychosis for a long time so I was still suffering with psychotic thoughts and I thought they were never going to go away. When things started to change for me and the madness was disappearing I found I was missing it. When I didn’t have my psychotic head I felt like I was all alone. That cleared after about ten or eleven months. I started doing the Fellowships (AA, NA); I got involved with every single thing possible that was going. I went on more courses, more groups; I’ve been all over the country since I’ve been here, got back involved in sports and I’ve made so many beautiful friends. My relationship has totally changed since I’ve got into recovery, me and my partner don’t even argue. I don’t have financial worries because I’ve got no money but all my bills get paid which is something I’ve never done in my life, I’ve never been able to handle money ever, it’s just been like water.
I’ve got to the point now where I’m finally starting to think that I could go back out there and get a job. I know I still have a lot of work to do on myself and my thinking, but today I’ve got a fantastic relationship with my oldest son, my grandsons and my mother. My relatives have sort of come back on my side and they can see what I’m doing, even though I still struggle around them and I’m wary around them because of what I’ve done in the past. But my life today is totally different. I never thought I could do this and every day is something new for me. I’m two years clean, and that is where I’m at today. I’d like to thank my partner Donna for all her support throughout my recovery journey”.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 7