It all started with cannabis when I was about 15 years old. My parents divorced during this time and my mum died a few years later. In hindsight, I think I was lot more sensitive than people thought and it all affected me for years to come.
After my mum died, I went to live with my dad and I started hanging out with the wrong people. My dad really tried to get it right with me, but he was old-school and he just didn’t get it.
I went off the rails, started using more cannabis and experimented with other drugs. By then I was DJing on the rave scene and producing my own music. Along with that came ecstasy and cocaine and before long the music went out the window and the drugs became the main thing.
I chased the dragon for 7 years. I had always been anti-needle, but eventually that also fell by the wayside and I started injecting in my groin. Over time my veins collapsed and I still have an itchy rash on my leg from injecting. This gave me a big fright. It is better than it was but I am not sure if it will ever completely go away.
As I got older, I just got tired of living a certain way. I had become stuck in a rut and I believe 100% that I would be dead if I continued using.
I eventually became homeless in Brighton and got to the point where I had just one friend left. He gave me a bed and told me about CGL. They were the ones who told me about ESRA. I went soon afterwards and I haven’t left.
I am now an ESRA volunteer and I do some cleaning for them and I treat it like a job. It gives me structure, stability and breathing space.
Years ago, I would have found this kind of thing square and boring. I would never have done any work for no money. But now there is much more to my life now than money.
I have done a lot of training through ESRA, including food hygiene, first aid and WRAP training which is around self-care in recovery. I am going to do the Your Choice facilitation training in the new year.
If it hadn’t been for ESRA and the people there, I would have been sitting along in my flat with my best friend, heroin.