I started using drugs at the age of 12; drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. It helped me manage life. I had to live with a lot of change in my life as a young child and found it really hard to adapt and to fit in. The effects of the alcohol and cannabis helped me fit in with people, places and things. But it also caused a lot of behaviour problems. I rebelled against adult figures in my life – parents, teachers and also guards, who were a part of my life from an early age.
My drug use progressed to harder drugs in my late teens such as Ecstasy, Cocaine and Benzos. It all became normal to me, drinking and using drugs. I committed crimes to feed what I now know was addiction and I spent time in prison but I did not know, at the time, that the way I was behaving was because the power of my addiction was controlling me and I was willing to go to any lengths to finance my using.
In my mid-20s, there became a point where I wasn’t enjoying my using as much as I had previously. My first child was born and my mental health was affected. It was supposed to be the happiest time of my life but I was miserable.
I often spoke about giving up using but I had tried so many times to do it and I just could not stop. There became a point where I lost all hope and the will to live and – attempted to take my own life.
I ended up in and out of hospital for mental health issues and I blamed a lot of people for the way my life was; especially people closest to me like my partner and family members. It was only in desperation I asked myself if it could be the drink and drugs. Gambling had also become an issue in my life.
When I sat down with someone and talked about the way my life was and took responsibility for my own life and the way it had turned out because of my addiction, I was willing to get help.
It was suggested to me to try the Tabor Lodge 28-day programme for people with addiction. I contacted them and arranged an assessment. I did and completed the 28-day programme.
I learned a bit about my addiction and behaviour and felt very good in myself when I finished up at Tabor Lodge. It was suggested to everybody in the programme to go to Tabor Fellowship House, a secondary residential treatment programme that lasts 12 weeks.
I felt so good that I fooled myself into thinking that I could manage without going to Tabor Fellowship house and just attend meetings and my aftercare group. I found out the hard way after a few weeks of having no structure and routine that it was very important.
Having been a month clean after 20 years using, the world was still the same and people were affected by my active addiction. It became very challenging and the inevitable happened…I returned to what I knew and what helped me cope in the past – drinking, using and gambling.
When I picked up again, it was like I had never stopped using, but I didn’t enjoy it and it brought me to my knees a lot faster. I found it really hard to stop, lost the will to live and again, made an attempt on my life.
There was so much more pain in my relapse than in my previous use; I lost a lot more emotionally and found it so hard to bounce back. But I knew one thing after nine months of misery; I needed Tabor Fellowship House.
It was exactly the right place for me at that point in my life. The structure and routine was what I needed; but also the counselling, group therapy and focusing on myself for three months. This was done while also living my life at the same time, out interacting with people and fitting back into society – at a slower pace.
When you start at Tabor Fellowship House, you also start on a Community Employment Scheme outside of the treatment centre. I used the gym Monday-Friday and found it really enjoyable. While on the CEI, I would arrive back each day, have lunch, go to group work in the afternoon, or one-to-one counselling in the evening, have dinner and head off to an AA or NA meeting with my peers and return for 11pm.
Every fourth weekend, I went home and returned on the Sunday evening. There were days when I found it tough and lost belief in myself but my counsellor would encourage me and believed in me until I could believe in myself. It really helped get me through the hard days.
I have a good life today. I went back to education, am employed and a father to two children. My life has transformed and I will forever be grateful to Tabor Lodge and Tabor Fellowship House.
If you, or someone you love, is struggling with addiction, get help not only for yourself, but for your children as well.
Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. We provide support and care to hundreds of clients suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and eating disorders. For more information on Tabor Group’s services, click here.