johnI got bullied at school, but at the age of 13 I fought back and was soon mixing with the wrong crowd. My behaviour became increasingly difficult and I was constantly in trouble. The kids at school thought I was nuts. They didn’t realise I was a scared kid putting on a front so no one would pick on me.

It wasn’t long before I was expelled. Around this age I also started smoking weed and experimenting with different drugs. But as big and tough as I thought I was, I was no match for drugs. I started taking harder drugs until I was no longer in control. The drugs controlled me. By the age of 21, I was addicted to heroin and I spent the next 25 years stealing, lying, and hurting people in order to get a fix.

I have now been drug free for 2 years. My life is much more settled and I am a much better person than I was. Instead of hurting people I now want to help them. I work for the Assertive Outreach Team in Exeter and I am a peer supporter for RISE as well as a facilitator for a drug and alcohol recovery group. I have also achieved level 2 counselling.

When I was at school there was no support for challenging kids. There is a lot more available now and I would like to be a part of that solution. I would like my mistakes to be used to stop others making similar mistakes. That is why I am a part of the Five Lives Team.