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‘There is something very powerful about one addict helping another’

26 February 2014

‘Mark’s story’

The second instalment of his blog sees former drug  user, Mark,  still on a roll after the excitement of the Multiple Needs grant launch last month. There’s great news through the letterbox and a proud moment of realisation after a pep talk…

MarkHi – it’s been a week since the national launch and what a week it’s been. I get the sense that there has been a real injection of momentum and motivation around the country. In Birmingham we are waiting on the go ahead from The Big Lottery Fund to start. We recently took part in a five hour core group meeting where we discussed critical elements of the project. The facilitator of that meeting later said, ‘I was very impressed with the Experts by Experience – probably the most confident and perceptive group of service users I’ve ever come across.’ This comment was from someone once a high level commissioner in Public Health and who now holds a senior position at Birmingham University.

For me the week has been full of emotion and at times difficult to completely take in. On Wednesday February 12th, we saw the national launch and my first blog was published. This same day I celebrated 18 months with my partner, the first time in my life I have ever been in a loving and healthy relationship. On Thursday I saw the amazing comments that were left for me on my blog, thank you. Then, on Valentine’s Day, I arrived home to find in my letterbox an Incorporation Certificate for the Community Interest Company I have been developing for the past twelve months. In that moment, it felt as though I had finally stopped just being an ‘ideas man’. Later that evening I came to realise that the goals I had set myself for 2014 were being achieved externally as well as internally. My goals for 2014 are simply –

  • Change.
  • Action.
  • Growth.
  • Creativity.

Tonight, I have just come back from a meeting of recovering addicts, some of whom are in long term recovery, some only a few days in, and a few who have the desire and have made the decision to get honest with themselves and ask for help. There is something very powerful about one addict helping another.

There was a guy there this evening (I will call him Abe to protect his anonymity) who had relapsed over the weekend after ten months of abstinence. He was so distraught that he had ‘lost’ his ‘clean time’, saying to me that he believed he was ‘a failure’. He’d been sleeping on the canal side for the past three nights as a consequence of his actions, but something was different this time. He had spent the entire day at homeless services today and had secured a bed for the night. He had no money to travel, so literally walked miles to get to the ‘mutual aid’ meeting. I felt such pride and hope for Abe witnessing his tenacity and strength, at his rock bottom he refused to give up and pushed past any doubts or fears to make it to a place where he could experience the love, compassion and support that is freely given here.

I asked him if he knew what failure really was and he replied, ‘no, not really, I don’t know much of anything at the moment.’ I quietly said, ‘Abe… failure isn’t in falling down… it’s in quitting trying to get back up, and I don’t see a quitter.’

Seeing Abe’s face in that moment, the realisation of what he had achieved in his darkest hour was priceless. Right now, in this moment, I’m contemplating all the times others have done for me what I did for Abe tonight. I guess we are all just walking each other home.


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