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My Story: Owen

I grew up with loving parents. I was never victimised at school. I was sexually abused at school. I was involved in a road traffic accident. Two of my friends died joyriding: Quite traumatic. I thought I was okay at the time. I started hanging around with people that were older than me. I got into the wrong crowd; started going to nightclubs. I thought I was a lad.

I started doing pills, amphetamines, then it escalated. At 16 my Nan died and it brought up a lot of emotions. I was in a relationship and we split up. I wanted to kill myself. I jumped in front of a train. I put a toaster in the bath. I injected heroin. I didn’t really enjoy it. It was a suicide attempt.

I’ve never done a drug in my life that I enjoyed including alcohol. I did it to try to change the way I feel. If I didn’t like it, I’d try to make it work for me. I started doing crack and heroin when I was 18 constantly.

At 24 I was selling drugs and brining a lot of trouble to my parent’s door. I had a lot of guilt. My mum had a heart attack brought on by the stress. I gave her mouth to mouth and when the ambulance came, instead of getting stuff for my mum I was picking up my drugs. That’s how it was for me: Everything came first unfortunately.

I ended up in hospital for eight weeks with pneumonia. They told my family I was going to die in there but I came through it. They gave me back my trousers that had drugs in it, syringes. I was using within six minutes of discharging myself. I got pneumonia again at 27. Every organ was falling apart brought on by neglecting myself, homelessness and alcohol. Nothing changed. I(t didn’t matter how much doctors said to me: You nearly died. Nothing was stopping me using.

At 29 I got botulism through contaminated Heroin. I ended up paralysed. Couldn’t move, Couldn’t see. A chap in the bed opposite me died of the same thing.

Nothing ever changed my mind until I started using the local SMART service and got a worker that understood what was happening to me. I started working hard: using the service, going to AA meetings.

I had back and leg problems coming out of hospital. I thought it was due to the botulism. The doctors fobbed me off. [They] said I’d brought it on myself. [That] it was all drug related. 14 months ago I ended up in hospital with a tumour on my spine. I came out in a wheelchair. I had to adapt to life.

Working here with my worker saved my life. Talking about my feelings and emotions from before I started using drugs. I had to really connect with someone. Nothing I ever did satisfied me. I felt an emptiness in my soul.

Today when I help other people, that’s fulfilled. Drugs and alcohol never filled that hole. Today my life has improved through this service. I used the groups here. Reduced my script. I was so done being controlled by medications that i said i was not using anymore. And i haven’t touched a drop or drug since, in over three years.

I started working here. It saved my life. I cant thank this service enough. It gave me my life back. I came out the other side.