I was always shy. Talked only if spoken to and just didn’t feel comfortable around others. So when in my late teens I was introduced to amphetamines, I could put my mouth on auto-pilot, disengage my brain and let loose.
However that didn’t make me many friends, no one could get a word in.
I progressed to injecting speed and I was undaunted by the introduction to heroin. I was able to finance my ‘new habit’, as I had always worked.
Having a ‘hit’ in the toilets wasn’t unusual, until unable to inject myself I’d taken to driving to and from work in break times so my dealer could do it for me.
The lies and deceit that were necessary don’t bear thinking about. Surprisingly, my job lasted 21 years. However the beginning of my real fall from grace began after being offered early voluntary retirement and accepting it. I was left with a great deal of time on my hands and quite a lot of money. In 2010 decent heroin was harder to come by but crack-cocaine seemed abundant.
Redundancy money and crack – what a mistake!
"Redundancy money and crack – what a mistake!"
I lived the next two years practically confined to the basement in isolation, smoking away until the early hours. What had always been a daytime pursuit had finally become all-consuming. My addiction to drugs had been an on/off relationship for over 30 years.
I had dabbled with ‘recovery’ on several occasions having had methadone prescriptions in the past, all of which I’d abused. I had attended a service called Lifeline which enabled me in 2009 to enter detox. I stayed clean for four months. After being asked if I’d like to consider engaging again with the recovery services, I gained a key-worker and eventually agreed to attend a 12-week day programme at Lifeline.
For the first time in my life I actually started to take recovery and myself seriously.
"For the first time in my life I actually started to take recovery and myself seriously."
My time there was extended to six months as I became aware of the hard work and the slow and painful journey ahead of me. As part of the continuity in my recovery I was referred to The New Hanbury Project
, a drug and alcohol recovery service provided by SCT.
The Hanbury (as we call it), offers a variety of non-accredited courses to both men and women. We come from all walks of life, a real mixed bunch, our ages ranging from late 20s to late 50s. But we all have a common goal – to beat addiction. Although there is a proper timetable to adhere to, the atmosphere is easy going and friendly and, most importantly, safe.
The Hanbury has enabled me to work on discovering who I really am. Who I can become. It’s extremely scary and hard work facing reality and examining your shortcomings and defects without the aid of a safety net – whether alcohol or, as in my case, drugs.
"The Hanbury has enabled me to work on discovering who I really am. Who I can become."
Because I have been nurtured, encouraged and supported by not only the staff, but my peers at the Hanbury, I have gained confidence and life skills that I’d never learned or used before. I am only now using the art of conversation to communicate, never having given my true feelings a voice, my emotions numbed and buried for over 30 years.
SCT has a number of additional projects and businesses to allow for further confidence building. These include Paper and Cup café and a relatively new social enterprise, Restoration Station. Both are run on a volunteer basis to train us students. I am just ending my time in the café and am starting furniture restoration and sales in a couple of weeks’ time which I am really looking forward to.
I believe that without the Hanbury’s help I would not be where I am in my life.
"I believe that without the Hanbury’s help I would not be where I am in my life."
Their approach to people and addiction is quite unique. The help given is tailored to the individual and a bonding and trust grows between students and staff quite naturally relatively quickly. It’s like an holistic approach, looking at the whole person. Addiction can and does affect anyone, however people can and do change, especially when offered the correct help and support.
One day at a time!