Hello, I am an addict. I’ll always be an addict; but just for today I don’t use and that’s been the case for the last 3 years; I’ve found recovery and I’m grateful.
I was such a traumatised kid, full of fear and disconnected from the world. That all changed when I found drugs, the first one being alcohol. It just gave me courage and confidence and I completely felt like I’d finally found myself. It was all a laugh at the start. I think the reason I was attracted to drugs in the first place was because I shouldn’t have been doing it. I got involved in taking one drug after another. I went from solvents to weed, phet, ecstasy anything to change my reality except smack and crack. I used to say I’d never take them, because I didn’t want to be a smack head.
I left school at 14 with no qualifications, I just got myself into a life of crime and drugs.
I got my first prison sentence at 15 and I think I thought before I got into that life that it would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It wasn’t, I kept going back I didn’t care. I would either be arrested for kicking off while intoxicated or for stealing from shops and people to get the means to pay for drugs. Prison probably saved my life, as there were people I used with and they never went to jail and are sadly dead now.
So, my life just went on like that using and living in hostels or the streets, going to jail and repeating. I tried moving to a different area but things got worse. Eventually, I did end up doing something I said I’d never do, and that was take heroin and crack. Then I said I’d never inject it, but did, the first time I overdosed but even that didn’t phase me.
Honestly, life just continued the same for years, there was no glamour or anything and I honestly thought that that’s how life would be forever.
Anyway I got the longest prison sentence I’d ever had in 2012 and I was clean for most of it only used occasionally when I could afford it or when I managed to get away with making hooch. So as my release date came near, I said “I’m going to get wrecked when I get out and then that’s it. Then I’m gonna stay clean and sort myself out.”I now know, it doesn’t work like that. As soon as I started, I was bang at it again I couldn’t stop. The day I got out I started with alcohol then I had heroin and I was off, the next day and the next. I didn’t want to be out in the real world clean. Before I knew it, I was back stealing and begging.
I got back on a methadone script. When I first went to get an initial appointment I was sat outside the drug agency with my friend and a man pulled up in a van and got out and asked if this was a homeless place...we said no it’s the drug agency...”oh right”, he said, “can I buy you 2 some lunch?” Very friendly and kind. We had a shawarma I kept mine for later I was in withdrawal and felt so sick. This was Liam. He took my friends number and later messaged him to see if we would like to go to church on Sunday with him. My first reaction was to say “no I didn’t want to”. I was too scared. But my friend was going so I was encouraged by him. We were picked up by Liam on the Sunday and went to influence church. We were given a warm welcome and I really enjoyed the worship music.
Liam kept in contact with us. He got me a phone so I could connect too. Liam was very supportive. He knew what we were going through because he’d been there himself. I’ll never forget how he made us feel better about ourselves. He made us feel like we were worth something at a time when I felt worthless.
He quite often asked us if we wanted to go to rehab but I always said no... I knew I wanted to get clean but didn’t really feel ready yet. Liam introduced us to Tony as well and he was kind and helpful too.
Some time later, I got quite poorly. I was so weak I couldn’t eat, couldn’t keep anything down. I even struggled to keep alcohol down which was my primary drug, it was a nightmare. I decided to speak to my drug worker and ask about rehab. I felt like I couldn’t go on like that anymore. My drug worker managed to get me a place in a treatment centre in Lowestoft. I’d asked for it to be out of the way a bit because I didn’t want to have temptations if I was quite local.
I just had to wait for a place. In the meantime, my boyfriend was in a bit of debt with dealers so we decided to go to London for a bit and have an adventure before treatment. We just lived on the streets of London, begging all day and night and getting wrecked. We ended up on London bridge. It was a red hot summer, my boyfriend’s really pale and got sunstroke. He said if there’s a God please let it rain. It did start to rain not long after and we moved over the road under some scaffolding to keep our sleeping bags and stuff dry. About an hour later a van came speeding along the bridge mounted the kerb and men got out and started stabbing people, it was madness the armed police turned up and everyone was evacuated off the bridge, we walked past the spot we had been sat at before it rained and there were casualties, people lying down being revived by paramedics. That was the London Bridge terror attacks and I know now that God saved me that night because I’d already surrendered.
I landed in treatment not long after that. I was an absolute nervous wreck, I could barely talk I couldn’t give eye contact, I was shown love and care by other addicts which was hard for me to accept at first because I’d never really received it before.
Admittedly, when I went to treatment, I thought I’d be able to go through the work and then still be able to use alcohol occasionally and smoke weed but that idea was soon smashed when I did my step one. I can’t use socially, I’m an addict, I don’t have an off switch once I’ve picked up. I’m powerless to stop and then my life becomes unmanageable. I stayed at treatment for the full 3 months. Tony supported me there and came to visit. I then went on to a modern convent in wales because with just 3 months recovery in me I didn’t feel like I could just be out in society yet. That place was quite hard, but I got through it because I knew there was a better life at the other end of it.
So, when I came out in January 2018, it was on to Norwich. Tony had helped to get me into supported housing with another rehab in Norwich itself. I went to meetings every day, I prayed every morning, handing my day over to God because, when I do it my own way it doesn’t go great. I think God’s power is inside of us, I think its the love inside us. When someone helps me that’s God in them and vice versa when I help someone. If I do something that’s not right, I get a gut feeling. I think that’s God in me. I pray every night too. I pray thanks to God for my life, recovery my home, food, water, friends and everything I’ve received that day that I’m grateful for. I pray for people who need it and I pray for people I might have resentment with. It’s hard at first but once I keep doing it, it goes.
I had no self-esteem when I came out of treatment and I’d just go to meetings and leave straight away. Decline invitations for coffee or food, I just didn’t feel good enough, but I kept going back. I wanted what other people had, so I did what they did... got a sponsor and went through the N.A. steps, I got some voluntary work, in a cafe that really helped me grow, interacting with people. I made friends and started meeting up and going out with people from the fellowship. It started to feel a part of life. I went to N.A conventions and unity days.
I came back up north after I’d been clean for a year, Tony kindly let me stay at his, I met my sister for the first time in 20 years, which was good, but hard. We separated as kids. She grew up to be involved in being a mother to 3, while I was in the life of active addiction. We didn’t really have anything in common apart from our traumatic childhood. We had found each other on social media and messaged each other, well mainly my sister messaging me.
I remember that it felt too much, I said to my sponsor “I don’t want to take my relationship any further, she’s alive and I’m gonna leave it there”, my sponsor said “are you really gonna be that selfish? She was right, it would of been totally selfish and self-centred. So were still in touch and we met up again last year, when I visited north, and I met my niece for the first time. This time I stayed with Liam.
I plan on going up there the beginning of next year as due to the Covid restrictions I’ve left it this year.
When I was in treatment, I thought I would work with addicts when I got into working. This was mainly because the only people I knew with multiple years of recovery were the staff there. So, I thought that’s what we all did. I know now, that’s not the case at all and I am relieved if I’m honest. I didn’t really want to work with people, because I thought I didn’t like them. I’ve since realized, it’s not that I don’t like them, its I don’t like how I feel around them. And that’s down to my low self esteem which has grown a bit, but still needs work.
I decided I wanted to work with animals because they’ve never hurt me intentionally. I wanted to become a veterinary assistant. I needed 5 GCSE’s to get on that course and as I didn’t gain any at school I enrolled at college. Last year starting with Maths and English. It was nerve racking at first, but I stuck with it until it stopped, because of Covid. I had all intentions of doing the course work at home. I bought a laptop (that is something I would have laughed at anyone else for doing when I was in active addiction. I would have thought they were sad. In fact, I thought anyone who had a normal life and worked and attended college were boring and sad. But now I love trying to be an acceptable responsible and productive member of society.) So, I bought the laptop and I honestly did try to do the assignments that the tutors put online for us, but I couldn’t get into it. My mind goes all over the place, at the best of times. I could just about manage to concentrate in educational settings like the classroom or the library but at home I had no chance.
I had a rethink about my career. It was my sponsor that suggested that I do the work with animals voluntarily. So, I got a full-time job. I plan on working there for 3 or 4 years, saving up and then starting up my own business.
In the short term, I want to get a passport, when they start giving them out for non-urgent reasons. I want to go on holiday. God has given me a new life, so I want to live it. I moved into my own flat 4 months ago and I love being independent. It’s the first time I’ve lived on my own clean. I wasn’t sure if I’d cope but its brilliant.
As I said in the beginning, I’m really grateful that I’ve had this chance for a new way of life and the continuous support from Roots (Liam and Tony)
Over and out