Patric is an ex-offender who went on to be a manager for the YMCA in London, and is now a substance abuse support worker with young offenders.
My experience has been that there are only two things one requires to break out of the cycle and that’s the desire to do it and somebody to help you. If you have those two things there isn’t anything that can’t be overcome, if you have the desire to do it.
From the age of 7 until I was 33 I have been involved in using chemicals and committing criminal offences to support my drug habit. Back in the late 90’s I had experienced some quite heavy trauma in my life and that was the first time I tried to go in and get treatment for my drug addiction – at the time I was using heroin and crack.
I managed to get a couple of years abstinence from chemicals. I was still committing crime, still being promiscuous, still kinda being anti-social, quite disrespectful to society, you know, whatever. And eventually I picked up again and started using heroin and crack again but I knew that I had to really make an impact around stopping so I went off to live in Thailand and I ended up picking up crystal meth out there and drinking alcohol every day. I was out there for a couple of years then I had a really bad bike accident whilst under the influence of crystal meth; ended up breaking my back, my neck, hairline fracture of the skull, both wrists, both knees.
One would feel that would be enough to stop, however it wasn’t. I came back to this country, started using again, was on the run from the police, had some warrants out for my arrest and I eventually got caught outside St. Pancras library. I had a needle, a 1mil needle, with these two girls and they were trying to get it in my neck because all the veins in my body had kind of fell apart and collapsed.
I had one trainer and one shoe on and the shoe had no laces in. I had a pair of jeans on that were way too big for me, blood everywhere, there was a real sense of chaos in this disabled toilet and I managed to get this hit and I come out and there must have been about 15 police officers there waiting for me as they had been watching me on CCTV.
The moment they arrested me there was like a sense of relief because I couldn’t stop this cycle, I could not get out of it and I truly believe that the police showing up and arresting me was that divine intervention I needed.
I was up in Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court on five or six different charges and luckily there was a lay judge there that gave me a drug test and in-treatment order, which is what it was back then, so I went off to treatment down in Bournemouth.
Part of being in recovery is about making amends, cleaning up the wreckage that one causes with drug addiction or alcoholism. I was a real horrible person towards the people who were trying to help me, so as a result of that, part of my amends to society was I wanted to go and try do something to make good all that.
I was walking up this hill and there was a young boy probably nine or ten years of age out on the road and he had a couple of rolled up tobacco cigarettes in his hand and he stopped me and he asked me did I want to buy them? So I said to this little boy what are you doing out here talking to strange men walking up the street offering them cigarettes? Where are your parents? Why are you out here? It’s like, where’s your mum and dad? He was like I don’t know where they are and I said why not? He goes, I live in there and I said what do you mean you live in there? He was like that’s a children’s home.
So I went and knocked on the door of this children’s home and said to them, look you know he was outside and they thanked me.
The next day, I thought to myself I need to go and ask, so I went back down to the children’s home and knocked on the door and asked if I could see the owner and I kinda explained my situation to her and asked her if there was an opportunity for me to do any volunteering there whatever capacity it was.
Within six weeks of me asking her I was working there as a volunteer. I had finally found something that I was good at hence I was doing like sixty hours a week as a volunteer just because I loved it. It wasn’t a job to me it was a vocation.
I’ve turned a corner in my life where I knew I was never going back to that way of living. I was quite fortunate it was a case of different events coming together at the same time, so within 6 months I had a paid position there then a year later I started an NVQ3 in health and social care and within two years I was a deputy manager.
Now I’ve fulfilled my destiny by finding a way of living that is focusing on the welfare of other people and when I do that my life is just priceless. I can’t describe what it does for me.
Today my happiness comes from making other people happy… that sounds bizarre for me to say that because I’ve always thought that happiness comes from external stuff: nice jacket, car, watch, trainers, jeans, shirts, shoes, you know women, holidays, all that stuff is happiness but I’ve had all that stuff and wanted to commit suicide and take a couple of people with me. You know, so I’ve realised that the materialist gains in life don’t bring happiness, they bring fucking misery if I’m honest because the way I was going about getting them was the wrong way.