My story with chemicals started back when I was 7/8 years of age growing up in a small town called Lydney in Gloucestershire, violent father who drank a lot and answered questions with violence. I learnt very quickly of what we call the 4 horsemen, Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration and Despair. My house was a breading ground for seeking a get out clause, so when I was sat with some older kids who were known around my town and they started sniffing glue, I wanted to feel a part of so when it was handed to me I took it and instantly got what I had always Sought-Getting out of the here and now. It worked. I had arrived, I obviously didn’t know it then but looking back on it I can see how the attraction to taking a chemical to get away from self was a viable solution and so I pursued that evasive sense for the next 25 years.
Into the secure care system at 9, using needles shooting speed with my older brother at 12, detention centres at 13 and adult prisons at 18. Been shot at, kidnapped by Yardies for robbing their runners, overdosed, stabbed twice and not once did I think about stopping. Just wasn’t a concept I could manage. So after treatment the first time I was first exposed to the 12 step model in the mid 90’s and thought it was just about not using a chemical, so 2 years clean & going to 12 step meetings, but not doing anything else, I eventually got sectioned (as the mental torture of ‘self’ and my untreated behaviour was unacceptable for society). You see the problem I have is not drug related, its deeper than the effect of a chemical, I have consequences from chemicals but they are not my problem, they are my solution when I am using them, they keep me away from ‘self’ but the problem develops where the amount I take is dangerous and the levels of crime I commit deepen. If my problem is drug related why didn’t my life improve when I stopped doing them?
Sure there were small improvements across the spectrum, but on the whole no amount of sex, money, excitement, porn, food, ‘external stuff’, going to the gym blah blah blah was enough…. So, the end of my using was heroin and crack in veins around my neck and forehead as all the others had disappeared. On the back of another prison sentence I got a DRR and was sent to Quinton house down in Bournemouth where I was introduced again to the 12 step model, this time I knew what I could not do and that was not engage and work the steps outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I needed to find my tribe and I found those people in Cocaine Anonymous, I mention that fellowship as it deserves a mention in my post as it saved my life and afforded me an understanding of what I suffer from by listening to others who were sharing their experience.
17 years later I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning, just back from playing golf, which is my meditation, I don’t pray or believe in God but I do practice a set of principles that are grounded in a belief that my doing the right thing and living honestly in my day to day dealings with others, I will get all my needs met. Not my wants, but my needs. I regularly attend meetings, I am involved with service on all levels within society as well as 12 step meetings, I got qualified in recovery, got to service manager level within the drug/alcohol & youth offending fields, was the lead gangs worker, helped set up 2 treatment centres, ran cannabis awareness groups with excluded young people, delivered drug and alcohol training to teachers and staff at mainstream school, sat with Chief Commissioners of Local and Nationwide Police forces and they ask my opinion on addressing issues they faced, and on Friday just gone I finished the Knowledge of London to be a Black Cab driver.
From someone who had spent nearly 15 years of his life in one institution or another, been cast aside by society due to my actions to now be free and evolving into the man that I always knew I could be is a true testament to drug services and one of the many methods of recovery available today. Whatever the issue, there are people and services on hand to help reach down and help us up, all one has to do is make that first move…. The rest is a doddle in comparison to where we come from. Its important for others to know (men especially) that authenticity and honesty are ok to be in todays world, we no longer have to subscribe to the matcho ideology that some are raised with, its ok to cry and feel emotions, I looooooove being able to be free enough to share emotion in the moment, its an incredible feeling to feel free enough to just ‘be’ who we are supposed to be.
Its all I ever wanted to do! I thought I could fix a spiritual problem with a chemical solution and I couldn’t. It had to come from something else, I personally found that in the 12 step model. You may find it elsewhere, but I urge those that are on this path-don’t ever stop searching or allow others to limit your ability. As addicts and alcoholics we are truly gifted people once we leave the chemical abuse alone. Only once I done that was I able to REALLY see my full potential and grow into the beautiful man I am becoming, no amount of chemical could ever do that. I encourage each and every one who reads this, whatever you do ‘Give Time Time’ and once the process has started-let it run its course. Regardless if it be the right or wrong one. Its about having faith in the outcome being what one needs from that process, sometimes its not even the outcome that one needs, its the actual doing. I wish you all well on this path.
-This story was submitted to Recovery Speakers by Padraig M. in the UK