“I come from the North Inner City, and had been addicted all my life. I come from a dysfunctional family. My father was a docker and an alcoholic, and my mother a street trader. I’d be sent down to him on a Thursday to get his wages, or the money would be drunk. Times were hard and my mother struggled to put food on table, so I went out robbing and I loved it. I didn’t like school, and ran with all the older people. My first experience with drugs came after my best friend fell through a hole in the roof catching pigeons, and my family blamed me, said I murdered him. I found his body, and was given an injection and sent to live with my Grandmother who lived in the old diamond. I could do whatever I wanted, and I was a street devil and a house angel. She sent me up one day to collect her valium, and I started taking them. I could face things then, and at 14 I got introduced to heroin. I skin popped it, got sick, and said never again – but it took my worries away. I eventually got strung out, and didn’t stop for 20 years. I was in and out of prison all the time. I loved prison – three meals a day, no bills. I’ve a conviction for everything, all kinds of crimes, and some very serious charges. One time when I was locked up, I was taken down to a methadone clinic and offered a maintenance. I thought “great free drugs!” I didn’t think 20 years later I would still be on it, but I was. I disagree with maintenance, I think it should be a three month detox max. I lost my oldest brother through methadone, and my youngest through heroin, and my mother through cancer. Today I feel this, my feelings aren’t numb any more, and I realise how I wasted so much of my time. It was a miserable life on drugs.
I got introduced to HOPE, and became willing to follow the suggestions – and I am coming up on 5 years clean. HOPE has helped me since over the years, with housing, legal, and financial issues. They helped me with basic things that were hard for me, like getting a passport and a bank account. I call into HOPE about once a week for chat. I do NA meetings in this community, I pray and mediate, and I give back to the community and volunteer. I love the life I have today, I look after my health, and I just got back from an amazing holiday, and I have learned to laugh. I have members of my family still on drugs, and I visit my brothers in prison on a weekly basis – the staff there has been amazed by me and I am an inspiration – most people never thought I would never make it.
Today I can function and I am happy, and I am not closed minded liked I was. If I can get clean, anybody can—but you got to put the work in. At least 15 people I sent down to HOPE are clean now. If you are reading this, give yourself a chance.”