From the age of 10 years, Shaun has struggled with drugs, alcohol and offending behaviour. In his own words, he tells us of his addiction and how Caritas Care’s ACE project helped him to turn his life around at the age of 33.
“I had used substances since I was 10 years old, all substances were good to me. I was cool and hanging around with the older kids and just getting off my face. The whole experience was so much fun and I felt so sophisticated, I could escape from the confinement of my family life (or lack of it), my class room and what ever the authorities were trying to mould me into.
But no one tells you the down fall’s of recreational drug use, which soon changes into non-recreational drug use and then becomes drug abuse. I was sinking fast and my family and friends became distant (or was that me)? And life over the next 5 years became a business and that business was my life of scoring, stealing, lying and robbing and I wasn’t even out of my teen years. I took from anyone I thought was weak (it turns out this was me), my family, my so called friends.
Then came Juvie Jail and time to think, its easy to think of change and mistakes when your in Custody, but everything boiled down to one thing, it was everyone else’s fault! I could twist the truth to fit into any circumstance.
10 more years gone and I’m approaching my late 20’s. I have a girlfriend and she is pregnant. I thought I must change, I will change. But even this wasn’t enough for me, a child born and still more drugs, crime and Jail. Now I’m in my 30’s and my family don’t trust me, my home town don’t want me and my real friends are few and far between, I’m left with acquaintances whom all wait for the same things, a heist, a score and a hit. The routine has become so normal I don’t think of anything else.
The last jail sentence at 33 years old and I’m approach by the Drug’s team Inspire, My thoughts turn to my pre-release sentence plan – what do I have to do now to get out of here? More group work, more education – this is all garbage to me. My mind turns to my definitive life of drug use, drug abuse and addiction. I don’t want this any more, so I make the decision to sign up for the group.
This hasn’t been so bad, the group turns into a link to a community charity, Caritas Care and their ex-offender project ACE. A support a worker comes to see me and she talks to me about what I want? What going on? I can see she see’s me as a cheeky chappie and not really listening to what she is offering.
She comes and see’s me on a few occasions and then the penny drop’s, maybe not all she is saying is rubbish, maybe I will give one of these abstinent houses a go. After a week I got a legal visit and then another and then she was there again with another project. I couldn’t believe the choices that were out there. For the first time in my life I thought I can do this, I can change. I thought people really do want to genuinley help me and I wasn’t being told what to do I was been given options and not one option but 3 and 4!
I decided to give ACORN (an abstinence rehabilitation house) a chance, this was a project that used Dependency Emotional Attachment Programme (DEAP) therapy and was told not for the faint hearted! I was assesed and released on the 24th December 2015. I wanted to see my family so went to my mum’s for Christmas to see my daughter and family. No one could believe how well I looked. I felt great and my mum even trusted me enough to leave the room (I’m hoping she did this because she knew I wouldn’t steal anything) and if it was a test, I past. I spent 3 months in the abstinence house and I did it! It did break me and it re-built me.
I have now trained to become a peer mentor and I am even care taking at the new re-hab in Burnley. My journey hasn’t been easy and at first it was a struggle, but now I am in a great place and looking forward to a positive future. I say if I can do it anyone can it will just be a different journey.
I used to think the term ‘recovery’ meant getting better after having a dieases. But now, ‘to recover’ means to improve. My recovery is mine and it’s my time, being spent my way – and the results will come from my choices which will effect not only me but the people I love around me. . So how long do I want my recovery to last..?
…Forever, of course.”
Pictured is Shaun and his friend Karl Leach also supported by the ACE project, both doing great in recovery.