Some people say you’re born an addict, but I don’t think I was. My dad had struggled with drinking throughout his life and died when I was 16. I felt sure I didn’t want to be anything like him but growing up on an estate in south east London it seemed the only people not using drugs were the police or god-fearing types. I started taking drugs in my late teens and slowly climbed the ladder to heroin. I first realised I had a problem in 1991 and spent the next two decades trying (and failing) to come off it on my own as I moved between hostels and sofas.
In 2013, I felt isolated, paranoid - a complete mess. I finally accepted the help and support I needed and last week completed my 4.5 year anniversary in recovery. Since being in recovery, I’ve discovered so much empathy and passion for helping others. I think it’s because I know how much of addiction is in the mind and that the right conversation at the right time can make all the difference.
I’ve been volunteering but now want to complete a diploma so I can begin paid, professional work in the field and get the money I need to move on from my hostel. This is definitely the first, important step on a longer journey for me; ultimately, I want to become an addictions psychologist, something which I think is one of the most important jobs you can do well given its potential to transform lives. But for now, I need to complete training and move into my first skilled role as a support worker.