I started taking heroin when I was about 23 and my life went rapidly out of control. I had tried other drugs before then but nothing as bad as heroin.
Soon after starting I ruined a long term relationship with my girlfriend, was going to greater and greater lengths to get drugs and I think within 6 months of starting heroin I was in prison doing a 3 year sentence for a crime I committed trying to get money to pay for my habit. I was determined my life would change when I got out but that wasn’t to be, almost at the end of the sentence I got another habit and left prison like that. My life for 8 years was a constant cycle of drugs, crime and prison that I couldn’t escape from.
I finally hit the bottom in May 2011 when I tried to kill myself. I was lucky that my cousin found me and saved my life. From June 2011 up until July 2013 I steadily worked towards rehab. I got on a prescription of Methadone and stopped heroin, attended various groups like Smart Recovery & Turning Point. Finally, in May 2013 I was offered a place in the Ley Community, so a place in detox was arranged. I left detox in July and flew to Kidlington, was picked up and so began my first day in at TLC. I’ve been here almost six months now, it’s not been easy but it’s exactly what I needed. I’ve pushed myself to do things that I wasn’t too comfortable with, I’ve had guidance from my keyworker and help from my peers, I know I’ve got work to do if I want to be successful when I leave but I know I’ve got the determination and willingness to keep going. I want to have decent people in my life I can call friends, I want to have a job. I want to move into a flat with my peers in Oxford and I know, with the help from TLC I will get all that.
I am dyslexic and from an early age I can remember feeling uncomfortable and different when around other children. I grew up believing I was a bit of a square peg in a round hole and found social situations intimidating and awkward. To boost my confidence in my late teens I started binge drinking and occasionally taking speed. Leaving home at the age of 21 I went to Polytechnic to study engineering. I found I was out of my comfort zone and didn’t fit in with students, believing they were a bit daft, and hung around with the local punks. Here I began to drink heavily and take cannabis, speed & LSD regularly. I spent my life at this time either off my head or too paranoid to function properly. At 23 I taught myself to inject speed. At the age of 26 I managed to graduate but was a loner and socially dysfunctional.
I had a chip on my shoulder and hated politics, materialism and the system. At this time I tried heroin and fell in love, it was the answer to all my insecurities. From here I went from job to job, never being able to fit in or hold it together. From town to town searching for a purpose and from relationship to relationship never finding love. I gave up, I spent year’s homeless, visits to jail, begging and stealing. I hated myself and the world. I put my family through hell. I moved back home at the age of 34 after leaving jail, to work for my brother. I was maintained on a methadone script and topped up with drink and street drug and my addiction carried on for another 5 years, my parents would manage my money to give me stability in my life, but I was pretty useless. I lost my job and ended up homeless again.
I had had enough, I spent 10 years isolated. Physically, mentally and spiritually broken, I surrendered to my addiction age 39. After a month in detox, by chance, I was offered funding for rehab. I chose The Ley Community as I heard it was the best. I came here in January 2007 and completed a 20 month programme. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I remained clean for 7 years achieving all my dreams. However after a stressful year and not practicing what TLC had taught me I stopped looking after myself and relapsed. The Ley Community was a phone call away and they were willing to still help me. I am here now to look at my mistakes and move on from them. The support and care that this place offers is second to none. I know without doubt that they have saved my life twice.
Before I came to TLC I wasn’t content until I had destroyed everything around me, constantly in and out of prison, always in some sort of trouble with the police, whether it be shooting gear or stealing cars to order and always had high maintenance girlfriends, so that just kept me on the same path. Spending years at a time in prison, not fearing any sort of consequences. So after going to or either being kicked out of 8 difference rehabs I was offered the only rehab that would accept me, that was the Ley Community.
I’ve had major hard times here but I’ve also had the biggest realisations here, that I can have a life, a drug free life, without committing crime to fund it. That I can have everything that I ever wanted out of life. I know that I will get all the support that I need whilst I’m in the programme and when I leave here I know it doesn’t stop there and I know it’s all about choice, So now I have a chance in life.
My life before I came to TLC was one of crime, violence, prison, deceit and drugs, I started all this at a young age. Party drugs, solvents, cannabis, then finally heroin, crack & cocaine, after this point my life was handed over to the police service, prison service and since 1999 I’ve spent over 13 years in prison, my last sentence was a 4 year tariff I.P.P. which is a life sentence, it stands for “Indeterminate Public Protection” I had a minimum tariff of 4 years and a maximum tariff on 99 years, I will be 126 years old when my sentence finishes. I was sent to prison in 2005 and was finally released on parole to the Ley Community in 2013, I’d spent just over 8 years in prison and it wasn’t easy, I was on methadone, depressed, and had no hope of ever seeing freedom again. But I decided to go for a rehab as I couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes in my life, because there is no more chances when you’re I.P.P.
I needed a new life, a fresh start, a chance to rebuild my life in a good area away from my home area of Sheffield, and also a safe environment to recover in, welcome to the Ley Community. Since coming here my mind, body and soul have been reinvigorated, I’m clean and back in control of my life. I’ve been at the Ley 12 weeks now and I’m so glad that I made that decision. TLC life isn’t easy and it’s hard to revaluate yourself and see the flaws in yourself, but by doing this you come out the other side, a new person, with a new life and for that I’m really grateful. I’ve made good real, sincere friends since I’ve been here and am looking forward to my new future.
My recovery journey started at the beginning of 2013 this year. This is when I finally gave in to my addiction and realised I need to change my life for me. What I mean by this is I had tried many times to change my lifestyle and bad habits but was always for the wrong reasons or for other people. Unfortunately it took for me to hit rock bottom and to lose everything to make me realise I needed to change for me. I had become very ill and to the point where I struggled to leave the house. I lost my driving licence in 2012, which I also had to attend probation because of going to court. I was worried what the outcome was going to be so I decided to go to Oasis to receive help. Probation and Oasis suggested to me about going to rehab and this is where I grabbed the chance and pushed myself to attend meetings in order for them to look at me so I could actually receive funding.
Due to my health being so bad they decided the best opportunity for me was to go to a rehab that I could stay at. I came to visit the Ley Community on 13th March 2013, which was my birthday. I have since had close peers tell me that they didn’t think I was going to make it back here because in their words I looked like the walking dead. Reasons why I chose TLC was because I knew I needed it hard and I really need the tough love approach because I never had that and I always push my limits. I need structure, boundaries and independence in my life and I knew I would get it from this place. I needed new friendships and a new lifestyle in order to make them changes.
I came to TLC in May 2013 and I have been here for 8 months. I’ve completed the 26 weeks in phase one and I’m now in the 12 week phase two, doing voluntary work and getting myself ready to look for full-time work. In my time at the Ley Community I have come to realise that my addiction to ketamine wasn’t just the problem. It was my whole outlook on life, my behaviours, my attitudes and my beliefs were what I needed to change in order to stay clean. Once the drugs were taken away my behaviours shone through, things that I would never see as being a problem were clearly holding me back. I talked in confidence, self-worth, respecting myself and others, self-belief. I didn’t know what the right perception of care was or what a therapeutic relationship really meant. By using the tools in TLC I started to grow, they really did help me with my self-values. I started to build relationships, which I now know my peers is a big part of me still being here. I looked at some of my issues from my past and I got an understanding of my feelings and how I acted on these, the more I looked into each situation I come to realise I could keep looking at the past but there was nothing I could do to change them but they were just an excuse to use. From struggles that I have got myself into since I have been in TLC have made me stronger, made me challenge my thoughts and how I act off these feelings are different to what I would of acted out there, instead of running I realise I don’t need to run no more and just have to keep pushing myself.
I am currently attending vol work which I am really enjoying. Every day I am realising how far I have come and how much more I have got to live for. I always have to remind myself of where I have come from even though I know I am a million miles away from where I was I am still only a step back to it. With help from my peers and TLC I know I will stay in recovery. I will soon be looking for work and my journey will continue but when I know I have cracked being in recovery is the day I die because this is something that is going to be on going now for the rest of my life.