I have been living with Solas now for 18 months, I live in the shared houses but started off in Albert Street.
I have asked myself loads of times why I ended up in trouble and using drugs, I had a stable home, my parents worked, we had holidays abroad and family life was good. I left school at 16, and I started smoking cannabis. I worked at a garage as a trainee panel beater and sprayer so had my own income, I was out with mates at the weekend I started taking amphetamines and doing coke to have fun. At 19 I got my own car valet business and was earning good money, I got in trouble with the VAT man so I started nicking boat engines to make money. In the end I decided to run away from the tax man and went up to Blackpool.
By this time I had a really hard amphetamine habit to support so I carried on stealing things and dealing amphet in nightclubs, I started stealing cars to order and doing commercial burglaries. I got caught and got 18 months in Winson Green; my first time in prison.
I got out but was soon back to my old habits, I carried on doing drugs and tried rehab but relapsed soon after I left there. For the next 20 years I was in and out of prison. I had used heroin on the odd occasion over the years but in 2003 my brother committed suicide, it was such a shock and I’m not using this as an excuse but I then started using heroin every day. At first you take it to get a buzz then you have to take it just to feel normal.
I realised I finally had to change when I lost concentration driving as I had been using, I really scared myself as I nearly hit the car in front. That’s when I got in touch with Kaleidoscope who in turn got me my place at Albert Street as I had been sleeping on a friends sofa and realised that this was not the best option for me while I was trying to get clean. I was a bit wary of what a ‘hostel’ environment would be like, by then I was on methadone and didn’t want to make myself vulnerable by possibly being around other people like me.
I said to myself 2011 was going to be my year and that I would achieve everything I wanted including being clean which I did but there have been some big setbacks. I lost both my Nan and my Dad in 2011, I started drinking and things started slipping, I was in a bad way I told my keyworker and she put me in touch with Solas Clinical Psychology Service who have been fantastic and things are now back on track. The last 12 months have been the most challenging both emotionally and physically for me but I have had support to get through it.
I have am now on the peer mentoring course with CRI am a member of The Loop. I am taking a counselling course at night school and doing classes in IT, Maths and English. I have talents and skills I didn’t realise I had, I have been selfish all my life but now I can give something back. If there’s two organisations that have helped me so much its Solas and CRI, if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I would be now. Since becoming drug free I feel as if I am only just starting to live.