Category Archives: Awareness
Thinking back to the panel on Stigma and Discrimination at the National Drug Conference in Dublin this month it was highlighted that we never read good stories in the papers. Bad news sells. Users get all the bad press but rarely do we hear of the success stories. Maybe we can’t change the newspapers or society’s hunger for bad news but the more positive messages we can get out there the better. Twitter gives me an opportunity to engage with some interesting people and this is the story of one of my Twitter friends. I thought it would be nice for Johnny to get his experiences heard.
When Johnny was 16 his grandfather passed way and soon after his grandmother. He had little understanding of how to deal with grief and death and began drinking a lot. One night he tried Heroin for the first time.
“It was my miracle answer; it took all the pain I was feeling away”.
He admits his understanding of addiction back then was that it was all in the head, a choice people made that could be controlled. His use increased to every Friday, then every Friday and Saturday and it wasn’t long before he was using every day. In the early stages off his addiction when he worked he remembers particularly bad times. One of these was when he was talking to a guy at work and found out one of his friend’s had died from an overdose. Again grief affected his use.
“I was convinced something would happen and the penny would drop but then I accepted that I was going to die an addict. I wrote a suicide note explaining to my friends and family how they would be better off if I was dead.”
Luckily before it got too far an unlikely source helped him…
“It was a policeman who came to tell me I was being watched on the town’s CCTV. He noticed my low mood and asked what’s up? I’d wanted someone to listen so I showed him the suicide note explaining how life would be better with me dead!!”
That was how Johnny was first directed to help and got into rehab which began a cycle.
“Every time I got into rehab I always seemed to have it in my head that I would still have to use again.”
He eventually began a relationship with his lifelong friend and it was made clear that drugs couldn’t be a part of it. Although he initially struggled with this, with her love and support he got his life back. Johnny also has high praise for Methadone.
“The reality is that Methadone allowed me to have stability, a fiancé and a life. I think it’s more addictive than Heroin but it gave me a chance to see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”.
When I asked Johnny what he thinks would’ve helped him more along the way he simply said.
“Reassurance. No one had ever said to me how you are feeling is OK, normal, part of the process. You can do it Johnny”.
Johnny who used Heroin and other drugs for over 15 years is now 31, 8 months Heroin free and engaged to Hazel. They live in Ballymena, Northern Ireland with their ‘son’, their dog Marley. He is looking forward to getting married and getting back into work. He would also like to be able to help others recovering from dependency like him. He would like to say big thank you to all the people that helped him along the way especially Hazel and his big mate Jim.
This is a poem Johnny wrote for Hazel….
While I was looking for a perfect verse, so happy I was fit to burst
Acceptance, just 1 word. Cos u accepted me as I was, a junkie chasing a buzz
This is pure n simple truth, u welcomed me under your roof
At 25 you got ur own place, while i was still gettin off my face
When I was a teen I wanted to sell drugs, cos then id be one of the cool thugs.
How could I be such a fool, for flip sake I was still at school
I love you with all my heart and life would be bad if we were apart
There’s just one dream id like to come true, no more gear-just me, marley n you
I hate it when you cry cos youre my love and thats what gets me by
So, no more tears except for joy, me, you n our doggy boy!
No more madness cos thats the reason for ur sadness
I love u forever. xoxox
Ballymena, Northern Ireland
You can follow Johnny on Twitter @wjc80