vinceMy problems started when I was at secondary school. I wasn’t very confident, but I quickly found that alcohol and cannabis gave me the confidence I needed to make friends and by the age of 14, I was drinking and smoking every day. Within a year my work began to suffer as I was regularly bunking off school to use drugs.

There was a gang problem in my area and in order to prevent myself becoming a victim, I joined one in order to protect myself. At first, I felt invincible but I soon realised that being in a gang you are expected to rob, steal and engage in acts of violence, which I felt uncomfortable with. I started using harder drugs to deal with the stress.

I left school with poor grades, and my parents, sick of my behaviour, evicted me from the house. I was now using heroin and crack and my drug use increased. By the age of 17 I was an addict. Over the next 16 years I lived on the streets and in abandoned houses, committing crimes to fund my habit.

Drug addiction destroyed my life, but eventually I managed to claw myself into recovery.

I now use my time to prevent others from having to experience the horrors of drug addiction, saving family, friends and the community from the misery that just one addict can cause. I work as a volunteer, supporting both recovering addicts and those in active addiction. I am a prominent member of NA and hold numerous service positions. I have also gained a passion for climbing and have a qualification as an indoor climbing instructor.

I am a member of the Five Lives team because I believe I can make a difference and, through my experience, prevent young people from making the same mistakes as I have.