When did you first start using drugs?
I was 11 or 12 when I first started weed I stole from my sister. At first, my drugs of choice were alcohol and cannabis.
From the start, I used every day. Who wouldn’t if they had my life. I smoked cannabis every day at college, which quickly led me to lose concentration and motivation for anything except shoplifting and scoring. I dropped out.
When did drugs become a problem?
By the last two years of college, when I was about 17, I was drinking to blackout regularly, alongside smoking weed every day. Life was just being shouted out and then arrested. No one seemed glad to see me but I didn’t care.
I didn’t care about how I looked or anything.
To get out of the lethargy, I started taking speed and ecstasy. Then I found cocaine at about 17. I have never looked back. I had found the answer! Live as a cocaine addict was all about fun, but the fun soon stops.
This, alongside drinking to blackout, caused me to drop out of sixth form. I was studying to go to Uni. So now I’m no good. I started dealing to make money and that introduced me to the inside of a police cell.
I did 10 weeks in prison in July 2017.
I did get clean in prison, but the second I was out I used in the car on the way home. This kick-started a nasty love/hate habit that lasted throughout my adult life.
By this time, I’d lost all control over drugs, I would just take anything that came my way. I’d take anything and everything. I got very ill and paranoid. Coke every day becomes a nightmare. My girlfriend had a miscarriage, my Nan died, everything just seem to be an endless spiral of misery.
I lived in chaos wherever I went and all aspects of my life were impacted by my using and drinking. I moved from London to Liverpool thinking that I would leave all of my problems behind.
I know that is now called a geographical, but at the time I knew I would get stabbed or shot if I stayed in Camden.
Crack was a big issue, too and very quickly affected my health in addition to my already deteriorating mental health. I was so bad I saw a counsellor that the courts recommended.
This carried on for a number of years until eventually, in my late 20s, I had a serious habit with heroin and crack cocaine. I knew I was dying, but then everyone dies right.
The rush from crack was quicker than using coke and cheaper.
Smoking crack was safer than injecting smack. I thought I was making good choices. I went back to prison for dealing for 6 months.
What made you want to go to rehab?
My probation officer told me that I would be dead before 30 unless I got some help. I began to engage with recovery services due to my crack addiction as I needed prescriptions to try and get off drugs. I was still dealing and stealing but I found that life was so grey and bleak that I was going to kill myself. That is what frightening me enough to stay clean for 9 days.
I went through the motions to tick the boxes to get my script, but in hindsight, I had no genuine desire to get and live clean. I just wanted to keep using. I told myself that things are looking up when my parents said I could live with them again.
I had several detoxes and half-hearted attempts at recovery, but I wasn’t ready. I just got clean and then went out and started all over again. It was a sort of groundhog life.
I eventually became so desperate to change the person I have become and get off the drugs. I’d started to hallucinate and ended in a locked ward in an NHS hospital in Barking. I had no idea how I had gotten there.
However, I didn’t reach my absolute rock bottom until around July 2019. I had recently been attacked with a crowbar as I was caught stealing from a house in Kentish Town. I had a broken arm and I can’t use my left hand now.
I was living back with my Dad, in trouble with the police and with debts and no money, I was putting my and my family’s safety at risk as the people I owed money to were not very nice. I was convinced that the FBI had employed my Dad to spy on me, I was hearing voices, it was hell, panic, fear, chain-smoking…
My physical health was deteriorating. Mentally and emotionally, I was worse than ever. I knew I’d had enough, so I was referred back to the Drug and Alcohol Unit through my GP.
I think my parents knew I was dying. My Dad was a bank manager and my Mum worked for the council so they weren’t really equipped with what to do!
I detoxed in A&E as I was in a car crash. It was a God moment as the car was stolen and I was drunk. Someone pulled me from the car and told the ambulance driver I had been hit by the car!
Detoxing from crack took forever. The physical shaking and the anger were the worst.
The hallucinations and the voices passed thank God.
They gave me Gabapentin. I just ached and stared at the wall.
My parents told me I had to get clean or leave. It was too hard watching me kill myself. I agreed to go to hospital if they promised they would not leave me there forever. The only way I could get through the day was by sipping vodka all day and not leaving my room.
I went to Castle Craig in Edinburgh. My Dad drove me up. He let me drink cider of all things the whole way up. I would of gone to Mars I was so desperate. Supposedly this place could help people like me. I know that my parents had re-mortgaged the house to pay which made me feel very sad. Why would anyone love me.
In rehab, there was a familiarity that offered me some hope in the fact that I knew people who had completed 28 days in rehab. Most had relapsed and many had died, but 2 people I knew were alive and not drunk or stoned. Could I do it?
I thought if this doesn’t work I will hang myself. The logic of the addict!
I also had friends who had been through NHS rehab services and lived clean for the first time. At the time I thought they were mad.
Every time I’d thought I wanted to get well in the past, I had felt running away was the only way to do it.
But, this time, I knew that I needed to stop running and try to get well or people would be coming to my funeral. I weight 9 stone and stank.
The people at Castle Craig knew what they were doing. I thought I was the worst case in the world but they did not seem overly concerned.
As I was clean (no crack, bit if weed) and just drunk I was spared another detox. Detoxing off crack was unpleasant.
If you have not been to rehab, it is nothing like the films. Everyone is the same but different. I began to eat and shower again so I didn’t look as bad as some people did. Drugs and drink are killers.
Everyone had different stories. I thought I was shocking and all gangster but I was just a run of mill junkie with attitude.
After 10 days I cried a lot. It all started coming out, the abuse, the bullying the shame. I hated the world but didn’t want to be alone. I thought no one would believe me but they did. I was just a scared little boy.
The other ‘inmates’ were amazing and we became really close. I keep in touch with two of them today and one came to my wedding.
Rehab is very hard and gruelling. In all, I stayed for 6 weeks which was all we could afford. The hospital was amazing and the therapists are like saints, how they put up with people like me is amazing!
If you hadn’t got help, where would you be?
Dead. I honestly believe that right now, if I hadn’t come into recovery, I’d either be in a hospital, a prison cell, homeless or I’d of killed myself
How is life now clean?
I got married in the first year which you are not supposed to do. She had two kids so I am an instant Dad. She is in recovery so we keep each other’s recovery going.
I have never loved anyone properly so it has been a journey! I wake up happy sometimes which is weird.
I still crave drugs and a buzz sometimes and I do have bad days where just getting out of bed is a major achievement. But I am alive, I am realiable, I have a job and I don’t lie and cheat.
I sponsor two blokes and I go to NA three times a week.
Live is beyond my wildest dreams, it does work even though I thought that was for other people.
More on Crack.