#1 – 02/08/17
I come from a good family, we didn’t have much but my parents gave us what we did have. From an early age I had an addictive personality and my first addiction was crime.
I come from a small town in County Durham and I can remember looking out of my bedroom window on a night and watching the older lads in stolen cars and wanting to be a part of that and I was.
I think the first substance I used was sniffing petrol and smoking dope. With my crime came the jail sentences. I started getting into the rave scene and when I was young I went to night clubs and started taking E’s and whizz on the weekends; I stole during the week to pay for those drugs, I stole cars and committed burglaries.
I got into a relationship when I was 18 and became a dad with three boys. I ended up in jail with a big sentence and heroin hadn’t really taken off round my way at that time. I can remember going into Holme House and watching all of the heroin users coming in rattling and swearing down that I would never touch that stuff.
By the time I’d got out of jail smack had taken off round Peterlee and all my mates were on it. Within days I was taking it myself and I enjoyed it; it was like a comfort blanket wrapped around me. However, it went from using a couple of times a week to every day and a few months down the line it turned into a nightmare, I was no longer using it for the buzz, I was using it because I needed it otherwise I was ill.
Along with my smack habit I also started smoking rock and taking blues. My crime levels went right up; I was stealing off my family, my girlfriend and my kids. I would step over my kids for a tenner bag and I did many times.
My life consisted of jail, hospital and crime. I was down to 8 stone and I honestly thought I was going to die a heroin addict as I was watching all of my friends die around me.
I got talking to a lad in the treatment centre where I was going for my methadone script and he told he that he used to be on heroin himself and that he’d gone into rehab and got himself clean and that he could get me in if I wanted it.
I said I’d talk to my girlfriend and my family but I did it for the totally wrong reasons, I did it for everyone but myself. I went into rehab for 4 weeks, got myself clean and thought I could use again safely so I walked out.
Within 2 days I was a mess. I ended up injecting heroin and taking blues and I overdosed. I collapsed and stopped breathing. I ended up on a life support machine with pneumonia with the doctors telling my family that I wasn’t coming off it.
I spent 2 weeks on life support and I remember coming round with my family around me feeling full of guilt. I just knew my time was up, I couldn’t keep going on the way I was. I ended up spending 4 weeks in hospital and then I got straight back into rehab and it was the best thing I ever did. I stuck it out this time, did everything I was supposed to do and loved every second of it. I spent 5 months in there and was gutted when I had to leave.
After 15 years of using heroin and 10 years using crack, having never worked and no job prospects, I thought life was going to be shit living clean. I started volunteering for the treatment centre in Peterlee, going to mutual aid groups, anything to keep me busy.
A great opportunity came up to volunteer for Recovery Connections in Middlesbrough and it was the best thing I did, I’m now 2 years clean and just got my first job as a Trainee Recovery Worker which is amazing.
Life today is amazing being clean, everything I lost through addiction I’ve got back tenfold. I’ve got my self-respect, dignity, my kids, trust and it’s all by staying clean and a little bit of hard work.