AT the height of his addiction, Nick’s heroin and crack cocaine habit was costing him hundreds of pounds each day. But even losing everything wasn’t enough to make him stop.
In a frank interview for Borough Life the now recovered addict talks about the realities of drug-abuse and its potential for wrecking lives and how, with some help and support from Wigan and Leigh Drug and Alcohol Services, he has turned his life around.
“I had everything going for me,” he admits. “But then, for no reason, I decided I could treat myself. I thought: what’s the harm in having one fix? I’d dabbled with drugs before and managed to come off, so I kidded myself I was in control but it wasn’t long before the drugs were controlling me.”
If you have a stereotypical view of a heroin addict then Nick isn’t it – he had a good job, bright prospects, a supportive family and a loving partner.
He could be your mate, next door neighbour, that guy down the pub you give the nod to and for a while, even in the grip of his addiction, he managed to keep this image up.
But as the trips to his supplier became more frequent, Nick’s life started to fall apart.
“At the time, I didn’t think they affected me but I wasn’t seeing what other people could see,” he says. “I was slowly killing myself and I looked like death-warmed-up. But as long as I had the money to fund the habit, I didn’t think I had a problem.”
It was only when Nick went to the hole in the wall to discover the once well-stocked savings account was now completely empty that reality began to bite.
“If the drugs hadn’t killed my emotions I’d have cried,” he says. “But even when the money ran out I didn’t stop.”
It went deeper because Nick’s long-term partner eventually decided that enough was enough. “Even losing the love of my life wasn’t going to make me stop, because I wasn’t ready,” he says. So what was the turning point?
“You have to hit your own low,” says Nick. “I just reached the stage where I had nothing else to lose.”
And this proved to be the catalyst Nick needed. Shortly after contacting Wigan and Leigh Drug and Alcohol Services, Nick’s first tentative steps to recovery began with a detox programme provided through a specialist facility at Kenyon House in Prestwich, Manchester which delivers tailored care packages designed around the needs of recovering addicts.
“The support I’ve had from local drug treatment agencies has been great,” he says. “Not only has it helped me come off drugs, it’s helped me rebuild my life, giving me focus, structure and greater confidence.
So what’s life like now?
“It’s what I’d call normal,” says Nick. “I’ve got my baby girl and she’s a big part of my world. I just want her to be proud of her dad. I’m close to my family again and have their trust and respect.
“I’ve just started volunteering and hope to build a career as a trained drugs worker, helping others change their lives the way I did.”
Building on the success of stories such as Nick’s, Wigan Council’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team want to continue to raise awareness about the help available for people with drug and alcohol problems through its high profile campaign, Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives.
“I’m living proof that, with the right support, recovery from drug addiction is both an achievable and realistic goal,” says Nick.
For information on the support available for people affected by drug and alcohol problems call Wigan and Leigh Drug and Alcohol Services on 0800 389 4463.