“I am 5o years old and I’ve spent 32 years of my life in addiction.
I started injecting amphetamines aged 16. I managed to stop when I was 22, but used alcohol and cannabis to ease the come down. I drank excessively and quickly became alcohol and drug dependant. At first it didn’t seem to be a problem but my using and drinking progressed until, whilst under the influence, I repeatedly stabbed a neighbour in a frenzied attack. Scarily, I have no recollection of this incident.
I stopped drinking but it sent me back to drugs, I was injecting again. Over the next decade I did several prison sentences and have also suffered from drug induced psychosis and been homeless for years at a time. I had got to the stage by then where I had lost all my teeth, I had Hepatitis and I didn’t expect to live for long. I couldn’t cope with life and my addictions. I was very afraid.
I knew that I had to stop so that I could go to my son’s wedding but when I realised that I couldn’t, I knew I needed help. I didn’t know where to go but someone on the street helped me. I went to the Corner which is part of the Basement Recovery Project and signed up to NA and I haven’t looked back since.
I got clean in May 2013. I went to my son’s wedding and saw my Mum and Dad who thought they would never see me alive again. On Christmas Eve, I went to see my youngest son. That was the first time I had seen him since he was 16 and he was 24 then.
The people that I listened to when I was trying to get clean were the people that had been in recovery and that’s what made me realise that if they can do it, I can do it. You get inspired by people who have been to hell and back.
I am an Expert by Experience for the WY-FI project, I volunteer at the Recovery Café for Bridge in Bradford, I also co-facilitate a group there and I do peer mentoring and outreach work with one of the WY-FI Navigator teams. I really enjoy that. On a Monday I have college because I am studying for my level 3 NVQ in Health and Social Care.
In the future I’d like to work for the WY-FI project as a Navigator because doing things now to help people that are in the situation that I was in helps me tremendously. I enjoy giving my time, it’s a positive. I have taken so much from society for so long, I need to give something back. It helps me feel good about myself but it also gives me a purpose.
I will be 17 months clean next week, and I am really happy and doing well in my recovery. I am in a healthy relationship and looking forward to the rest of my life.”
Sue, WY-FI Expert by Experience and Peer Mentor