I don't believe anyone actually wants to be an heroin addict. It just happens one day at a time. The days turn into weeks and the weeks eventually become months and years.
I don't blame anyone for what happened to me, my parents were great and always there for me, I had no issues, there was nobody influencing me, nobody pushing me into anything I didn't want to do, everything was my decision 100 percent.
There's a line in the Bruce Springsteen song, "hungry heart" that goes: "Like a river that don't know where it’s flowing, I took a wrong turn and I just kept going". It was simple as that, one wrong turn. I was addicted to heroin for 7 years ending in 2006.
I spent the last year or so trying to get off it. I hated my life, I hated what I was doing to the people who cared about me. I hated letting down my kids and waking up everyday feeling ill and trying to find money. I hated what I’d become, yet every time I tried to stop I’d find myself straight back at where id started from.
Sometimes I could stay off it a day or two, sometimes longer, but eventually it would just wear me down and I’d always end up going straight back to it. I did reach a point where I honestly thought I’d never get off it and I would be like this for the rest of my life. I thought I would live and die this way.
People sometimes don't realise the hold a drug can have over you. Nobody wants to live a life like that. It’s a horrible existence, but its such a difficult habit to break. Not just physically but mentally also, it just takes over you. It takes priority over everything else.
I tried, and I failed so many times, it would have been easy for people to give up on me, or worse me give up on myself but I never did. Each time I failed I’d accept it, try and not dwell on it or beat myself up and just try again the next time I could.
Eventually through sheer persistence, a little bit of luck at the right time and help from places like Addaction I was finally able to stop using drugs and start to put my life back together.
Addaction has been crucial in my recovery and enabling me to live a normal life. Without places like that I dread to think where I could be now. To say I’m grateful is an understatement.
So what now?
I got myself on a few short college courses which I enjoyed but after they'd finish I’d go back to the same routine, I wasn’t going backwards but I wasn't going forwards much either. I was left in a lot of debt, was stuck in the same routine and again didn't know where I was going.
I was fortunate enough to have some family who lived in Skegness who offered me a chance to move there and I took it. I gave up my flat, told a friend he could take what he wanted out of there and just left. Almost everything else was left behind and I moved 100 miles away – from Castleford to Skegness.
Nobody knew me. Nobody knew anything of my past. Nobody was judging me, saying he used to be this or that. It was a completely new start. I managed to get a job there fairly quickly, I did struggle with it at first. Working long hours took some getting used to. Being a drug addict and not working for 10 years plus is hardly ideal, but I didn't quit, just took it one day at a time, kept turning up and eventually it just clicked. I started to get my confidence and enjoy it.
For the first time in years I managed to save up a bit of money, got my own place, started to get a complete new circle of friends and eventually met a girl there and became a dad again, 17 years after my first daughter was born. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that.
My life now is by no means perfect. We all get knocked down from time to time. That’s life, but it’s a million miles away from where I once was.
In a way it’s been like two separate lives, before and after - each one completely different to the other.
If there's one piece of advice I could give to anyone in the same kind of situation it would be to never give up trying. I don't believe anyone is a lost cause, no matter how bad a situation is, how many times you fail or how many years go by, it’s never too late to stop and try and turn it around.
Never give up trying and never give up on yourself.
Persistence pays off.