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Personal Stories

DAA members explain how they recovered.

The views expressed here are the stories of individual DAA members, and do not represent the fellowship as a whole.

To listen to these recorded testimonies, click on the audio file links below.

Audio file Description
Martin from Brighton shares his experience, strength and hope at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration15:34
Filesize18.7 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersMartin
Download and listen martin-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Oli shares her experience of Step 9 at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration16:02
Filesize19.2 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersOli P
Download and listen oli-brighton-unity-day-2017.mp3

Phil shares on the topic 'Rock Bottom' at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration16:02
Filesize19.2 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersPhil
Download and listen phil-brighton-unity-day-2017.mp3

Tom shares on the topic 'How DAA works in my life' at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration15:14
Filesize18.3 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersTom
Download and listen tom-brighton-unity-day.mp3

John shares his experience, strength and hope at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration13:16
Filesize15.9 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersJohn
Download and listen john-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Ben B shares on the topic The Homegroup at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration17:02
Filesize20.4 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersBen B
Download and listen ben-b-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Cali shares on the topic Emotional Sobriety at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration17:10
Filesize20.6 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersCali A
Download and listen cali-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Faye shares about the Three Pertinent Ideas at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration14:52
Filesize17.8 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersFaye W
Download and listen faye-w-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Dan M shares about Tradition Five at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration15:48
Filesize19 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersDan M
Download and listen dan-m-brighton-unity-day.mp3

Stuart from Plymouth shares about Step 12 at the Brighton Unity Day.
Duration14:54
Filesize17.9 MB
Bitrate24 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 2nd September 2017
SpeakersStuart
Download and listen stuart-brighton-unity-day-2017.mp3

Audio file Description
Shares from the 'There Is A Solution' meetings 7th Anniversary
Duration31.46
Filesize29.73 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenMonday 26th September 2016
SpeakersGarry E, Faye W and Aron O
Download and listen garry-e-faye-w-aron-o-tias-birthday-2016.mp3

Eva's share at Chester Unity Day
Duration15:32
Filesize18 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereChester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersEva
Download and listen eva-chester-unity-day-2016.mp3

Manu's share Chester Unity Day
Duration13:45
Filesize15 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereChester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersManu
Download and listen manu-chester-unity-day-2016.mp3

Adele's share Chester Unity Day
Duration20:13
Filesize15 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereChester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersAdele
Download and listen adele-chester-unity-day-2016.mp3

Audio file Description
South West Convention
Duration18:43
Filesize17.1 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersTony
Download and listen tony-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration12:30
Filesize11.4 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersFrancis
Download and listen francis-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration15:16
Filesize13.9 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersHannah
Download and listen hannah-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration18:05
Filesize16.5 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersJill
Download and listen jill-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration25:04
Filesize22.9 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersJoakim
Download and listen joakim-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration18:11
Filesize16.6 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersJohnny
Download and listen johnny-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration7:56
Filesize7.26 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersJonathon
Download and listen jonathon-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration12:28
Filesize11.4 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersMike
Download and listen mike-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration10:09
Filesize9.29 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersMike
Download and listen mike-2-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration12:26
Filesize11.3 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersPeter
Download and listen peter-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration12:27
Filesize11.4 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersSam
Download and listen sam-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration21:32
Filesize19.7 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersStuart
Download and listen stuart-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration21:06
Filesize19.3 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersTom
Download and listen tom-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration16:24
Filesize15 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersErica
Download and listen erica-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration19:58
Filesize18.2 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersDave
Download and listen dave-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration22:54
Filesize20.9 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersDan
Download and listen dan-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration13:57
Filesize12.7 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersCarolyn
Download and listen carolyn-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

South West Convention
Duration11:59
Filesize10.9 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 4th October 2014
SpeakersBen
Download and listen ben-plymouth-south-west-convention-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration19:50
Filesize19 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersBen
Download and listen ben-h-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration12:10
Filesize12 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersBex
Download and listen bex-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration40:39
Filesize39 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersHarry
Download and listen harry-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration12:47
Filesize12 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersJohn
Download and listen john-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration10:11
Filesize10 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersLoz
Download and listen loz-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration10:20
Filesize10 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersMatt
Download and listen matt-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration16:51
Filesize16 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersSal
Download and listen sal-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration13:06
Filesize13 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersSam
Download and listen sam-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration14:30
Filesize14 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersTom
Download and listen tom-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Brighton Unity Day
Duration10:26
Filesize10 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereBrighton
WhenSaturday 12th July 2014
SpeakersAdam
Download and listen adam-brighton-unity-day-2014.mp3

Audio file Description
DAA UK Convention Plymouth
Duration1:11:26
Filesize65 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth UK
WhenSaturday 31st August 2013
SpeakersCally, Joby, Nabs, Michael, Gary
Download and listen cally-joby-nabs-michael-gary-daa-uk-convention-2013.mp3

DAA UK Convention Plymouth
Duration1:09:55
Filesize64 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth UK
WhenSaturday 31st August 2013
SpeakersJames G, Matty M, Sal D, Elliot S, Jason J
Download and listen james-g-matty-m-sal-d-elliot-s-jason-j-daa-uk-convention-2013.mp3

DAA UK Convention Plymouth
Duration1:21:30
Filesize74 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth UK
WhenSaturday 31st August 2013
SpeakersDan M, Jordi A, Richard N
Download and listen dan-m-jordi-a-richard-n-daa-uk-convention-2013.mp3

Audio file Description
DAA UK Convention London
Duration1:08:13
Filesize62.0 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenSaturday 3rd November 2012
SpeakersRich N, Simon G, Jordi A, Michaela P and Lew B
Download and listen rich-n-simon-g-jordi-a-michael-p-lew-b-daa-uk-convention-2012.mp3

DAA UK Convention London
Duration1:03:12
Filesize57.8 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenSaturday 3rd November 2012
SpeakersChris R
Download and listen chris-r-daa-uk-convention-2012.mp3

There is a solution group Friday meeting
Duration18.40
Filesize17.1 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenFriday 2nd November 2012
SpeakersChris R
Download and listen chris-r-london-2012.mp3

Audio file Description
2011 Convention Day 2
Duration27:47
Filesize25.4 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSunday 11th September 2011
SpeakersRuth P, Tommy F
Download and listen ruth-p-tommy-f-plymouth-2011.mp3

2011 Convention Day 1
Duration56:10
Filesize51.4 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 10th September 2011
SpeakersNicky B, Ste W, Nicki H
Download and listen nicky-b-ste-w-nicki-h-plymouth-2011.mp3

2011 Convention Day 1
Duration33:59
Filesize31.1 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 10th September 2011
SpeakersJoakim A, Erika H
Download and listen joakim-a-erika-h-plymouth-2011.mp3

2011 Convention Day 1
Duration25:21
Filesize23.2 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 10th September 2011
SpeakersJoss S, Simon W
Download and listen joss-s-simon-w-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program group (Plymouth)
Duration18:55
Filesize17.8 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 31st March 2011
SpeakersJordi A
Download and listen jordi-a-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program group (Plymouth)
Duration18:28
Filesize17.3 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 24th March 2011
SpeakersTracy E
Download and listen tracey-e-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program group (Plymouth)
Duration19:39
Filesize27.7 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 17th March 2011
SpeakersNathan M
Download and listen nathan-m-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program group (Plymouth) 4th Anniversary meeting
Duration36:16
Filesize33.2 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 10th March 2011
SpeakersBekky P, Francis M, Alex T
Download and listen bekky-p-francis-m-alex-t-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program group - Jacquie R first main share
Duration18:08
Filesize17.0 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 3rd March 2011
SpeakersJacquie R
Download and listen jaquie-r-plymouth-2011.mp3

Living the Program (Plymouth)
Duration20:46
Filesize19.0 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenThursday 3rd February 2011
SpeakersNikki N
Download and listen nikki-n-plymouth-2011.mp3

Into Action group (Plymouth) 6th Anniversary meeting
Duration41:53
Filesize38.3 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 22nd January 2011
SpeakersStuart A, Eleanor B, Julian S
Download and listen stuart-a-eleanor-b-julian-s-plymouth-2011.mp3

Audio file Description
There Is A Solution group (London) 1st Anniversary meeting
Duration34:34
Filesize23.7 MB
Bitrate96 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenFriday 1st October 2010
SpeakersCraig S, Ruth P, Dan M
Download and listen craig-s-ruth-p-dan-m-london-first-anniversary-2010.mp3

Into Action group (Plymouth) 5th Anniversary meeting
Duration26:27
Filesize24.2 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 16th January 2010
SpeakersMark S, Tracy E
Download and listen mark-s-tracey-e-plymouth-2010.mp3

Audio file Description
Into Action group (Plymouth)
Duration44:00
Filesize40.2 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 29th August 2009
SpeakersPaulo P, Helen F, Dan M, Andy J
Download and listen paulo-p-helen-f-dan-m-andy-j-plymouth-2009.mp3

Into Action group (Plymouth)
Duration46:12
Filesize42.3 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 15th August 2009
SpeakersRichard N, Rachel A, Mark A, Julian S
Download and listen richard-n-rachel-a-mark-julian-s-plymouth-2009.mp3

Inaugural meeting of London DAA Into Action group
Duration33:36
Filesize30.7 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WhereLondon
WhenWednesday 15th July 2009
SpeakersDan M, Mark A
Download and listen dan-m-mark-a-london-2009.mp3

Inaugural meeting of Plymouth DAA Into Action group
Duration26:19
Filesize24.1 MB
Bitrate128 kbps
WherePlymouth
WhenSaturday 2nd May 2009
SpeakersJulian S
Download and listen julian-s-plymouth-2009.mp3

I tried my first drug at the age of 12 and my first drink shortly after my 13th birthday. They had a profound effect on me, but at that point I didn't become a regular user. By the time I was fifteen, I was drinking and smoking regularly and by the time I was 18 it was excessive and causing embarrassment to myself and others on a regular basis.

By the time I was in my early twenties, I had lost my driving licence, been hospitalised with pancreatitis and was experiencing a lot of paranoia due to my drug taking. Suicidal thoughts continued to race through me whenever I wasnít high. Doctors told me I shouldnít drink on my medication but I didnít think it made any difference. On a night out, I often didn't make it as far as the bar or club with my friends because I was too out of it or anxious to leave the house. When I did go, I hated to wake up the following morning and hear what I had done. A lot of people found drinking, taking drugs and all the shenanigans that happened as a result simply part of being that age and all good fun, but I didn't - and yet I still did it. I couldn't understand why I kept repeating this pattern that I despised and then pretending that it was a great night whilst apologising profusely to those I badgered for drugs, those whose belongings I lost, those who had to take me home and pay for the taxi.

By the time I was in my mid twenties, I was struggling to work in the kind of jobs that I had been doing before. My efforts to lead a 'normal' existence were becoming harder to maintain. My relationships were destructive and yet I clung to them. I was being referred more and more to mental health professionals and crisis teams.

By the time someone took me to a 'meeting' I had lost my boyfriend, my parents and siblings didn't want me in their respective homes, my physical and mental health were dire and there were bailiffs and police knocking at other people's doors looking for me. And still I maintained that I was a professional who just needed to stop taking drugs so that I could get back to work.

The problem was that whenever I stopped or detoxed, I could never stay stopped for very long. Once I started taking any drug or having the odd drink, sooner or later I ended up in an even bigger mess than before. Death seemed the only option. Or a life on drugs. Both weren't really options. I was stuck and both the GP and the CPN didn't know what to do. Even the local supported housing organisation said I was too chaotic to live in their staffed projects.

'Meetings' gave me a glimmer of hope. They are like drug and alcohol support groups but they are organised by people who have got better and they do it for free. Even the meetings are free. Everyone helps each other. Some people have been drink and drug free for decades and their lives are amazing.

Although I felt an outsider at meetings for a long time, I could hear people talk about similar thoughts I was having and similar patterns of drink and drug use and their consequences. I still wasn't sure I was like them though - I really, REALLY didn't want to accept that an occasional binge was not a good idea or a healthy way to deal with life. I wished I could do that like other people. But the fact is I can't any more. And actually I hardly ever miss it now.

Eventually, the Hope I heard in meetings gave me a bit of external Power that boosted me to fight. One former employer had told me that she couldn't see my soul at all any more. She was right. Drugs made my soul undetectable to others, but it was still there, hidden somewhere. DAA has well and truly brought it out into the open.

So with that hope came my first bit of power to fight this insane craving that still seemed to be a fundamental part of me. I couldn't imagine it not being there, but I had to try to be like the other people in the meetings. I appealed the Housing Project decision and voluntarily committed to go to meetings. When senior management overruled the original decision and I got a bedsit, the support worker didn't even bother meeting with me. I set out to prove her wrong.

A few months later, and some more futile efforts to control my obsessive and compulsive behaviour (they were better but I was still a ticking time bomb and my drug taking became more secretive and terrifying), I completed a detox and engaged in a fourteen week programme in my local drug and alcohol service. It was based around 12 steps towards recovery from drugs and I managed to turn up nearly every day. It took every effort to get on the bus each morning and every night I went home still thinking about drugs or a sneaky bottle of wine.

I struggled on after this, still not feeling quite at home in meetings, still thinking about drugs and the pub all the time. I relapsed in secret and was terrified of losing what I had only just started to get back in my life.

At this point, the only positive of being (mostly) abstinent from drugs and alcohol was the state of my bank balance. Everything else felt terrible.

One day, a woman came to share at my local DAA meeting.

She talked about how drugs took over so much of her thinking and got her into trouble.

Then she talked about how she did some work with a guide called a sponsor.

Finally, and most importantly for me, she said that nowadays she had a good job, friends who still drank who she could hang out with and have a laugh with, and a life where she wasn't afraid to go and do things with other people who were using. She could go travelling, try new things and live like any other 'normal' person.

She sounded believable and there were some parts of her life that I really identified with.

I asked her to be my sponsor.

Not only have I not drunk or taken drugs since, I hardly ever think about them. I hang out with friends and family who drink or take drugs and I don't feel jealous. I go home when I'm tired. I remember the good times. I work in a school again, in spite of some dodgy stuff on my police record which I can speak honestly about. I love my job. I have a home in which I have never taken drugs. I have taken up new ways to relax and have a laugh with new friends. I can laugh and cry in a way that feels good and healthy. I don't feel like an outcast within my family. I have healthy boundaries so that I can be consistently helpful to friends and family without taking on too much. I have been discharged from mental health services for the first time in twenty years. In short, A LOT has changed in 3 years. IT'S AMAZING!!

The reason my life has changed is because I didn't just go to meetings and do service any more. I also went through each of the 12 steps. In the right order, with my sponsor. In the exact way my sponsor suggested, instead of my way. It was a battle at times because I am stubborn and not used to opening up or trusting someone else's guidance, but over time I've become better and better at it. I am starting to trust some people. I feel better for it. I am less scared, less angry, less sad, less lonely, less worried about money.

DAA (Drug Addicts Anonymous) has not just changed my life, it gave me a structured set of tools (a kind of spiritual CBT) that meant I can be who I always hoped I could be. I haven't got what I thought I wanted, but I am more than happy with what I now have. I've started to feel connected to other recovered addicts. They have become my friends.

My friends and family who aren't addicts used to think 'meetings' and 'Step work' with a 'sponsor' were strange and worrying. They would say, 'who are these people?' or 'She looks a bit odd' or 'It sounds controlling and cultish'. Now they say things like, 'She's on top form' or 'That was the best day; shall we make a plan for next month?' My GP occasionally says, 'Have you spoken to your sponsor about this?' My sense of humour only made rare appearances for twenty eight years, and it was usually when under the influence. Today I am relaxed enough to have one - most of the time!!

Addiction will kill you in one way or another. You may already feel dead, look dead or be acting dead inside. You might not even have noticed. The DAA community and the work I've done with a sponsor mean I am well and truly alive today. If you are able to be open to learning to be truly honest, you can be alive all the time too. Without drugs!

Hooray for DAA. Please try it. It's free. Everyone deserves to live a life feeling good. Including you.

I was born in London 1997 withdrawing from drugs due to my mum taking them on a daily basis when she was pregnant. I was very lucky because my aunt and uncle decided to adopt me and take me to their house in South- on-Sea. As soon as I was discharged from hospital they wrapped me up in cotton wool, fed me like a king and gave me the best childhood a boy could ever have. That was not good enough and I felt very disconnected from them and the world. I was constantly isolating whilst feeling lonely and scared. I didn't know how people lived life happily on a daily basis by laughing, smiling and chatting away. I was searching for contentment and could never find it.

The day came when I decided to get drunk for the first time with my brother. I had no idea that this was the day when drugs would slowly start to destroy my family, home. All I could see was life at last, for the first time in 14 years I could feel happiness, peace and contentment. The feeling was beyond this world and at last I found exactly what I need to succeed and accomplish in life. Drugs became my best friend, they helped me to connect to the real world and gave me motivation and ambitions to achieve my wildest dreams. I didnít understand why my aunt and uncle had such a negative opinion against drugs. They always told me how addictive, deadly and destructive they can become to my life. I had no idea what was coming. I decided to go and spend some time with my mother as she still used drugs. I did not return to my aunt and uncle's house because I would have to stop using drugs. I eventually had to leave my mother's house as she decided to admit herself to rehab. I put myself in supported accommodation and from there my life rapidly started to become a nightmare from hell. Drugs quickly turned from my friend to my master. Drugs no longer brought happiness, peace and contentment to my life all they had for me was misery, loneliness and consequences from hell.

I would always end up passed out in town or waking up in a hospital bed on a drip saying to myself 'how did this happen again? I have to stop this I canít go on like this anymore'. I would leave the hospital with the best intentions of and then go straight to the closest off licence thinking to myself 'I'm just going to have a couple of beers on the way home'. Within 24hrs I would be back on that hospital bed again embarrassed by seeing the same nurses that were on duty the night before. This vicious cycle would continue months on end it eventually felt like a normal part of my life. When I was 16 I decided to put myself in into rehab. I was 3 months sober and asked myself why am I not happy now. I haven't got drugs overpowering my life anymore at last. I am in control again, I am not going to be admitted to hospital. I decided when I left rehab to just have a couple of drinks to block out these feelings justifying it by saying I've been sober for 6 months now Iíll be fine. Every time I returned to being the servant and drugs become my master. Before long I would get slung out on the streets as no-one wanted me on their premises.

I became homeless and had a tent pitched in the woods. I slowly started to give up on myself I had no hope or faith I could not see a way out. All my methods had failed completely detox units, rehab, drug centres, medication and trying to stay sober for my family who I dearly love. The only solution I had was to stay in my tent and use drugs to oblivion. I slowly started to contemplate suicide as this was the only route left where I would find peace. My aunt contacted my father and asked him if he could take me to plymouth. I moved to plymouth, slowly detoxed of drugs in the community. My father told to me about Drug Addicts Anonymous and I didn't want to go there as I thought Iíd had already recovered. I didn't understand how recovered drug addicts from lived a happy life without taking drugs, how they have lost the obsession to use them and miraculously found peace. I realised that this was the only solution I had left to try. I had a glimpse of faith that if I do what other people have done in this meeting I will recover like them. I got a sponsor who had recovered in DAA and told me if you do exactly what I have done, then you will recover. From that day, my whole life started to change at last. I found peace and started to live life happily without the use of drugs. I felt connected to the world and comfortable around other people. DAA has pulled me back from the gates of hell and has transformed my life completely. It has given me a fresh start and opportunity to fulfil my dreams. I have also found true friends for the first time in my life and they support me and guide me in the right direction. When life is getting tough they are like my second family and I never have to feel alone or return to drugs again as long as I keep my heart in the programme and the fellowship.

I am a 34 year old male. I was in active addiction for the best part of 20 years. For as long as I can remember I always saw my problems as external, whether it was my upbringing, my parents, or the community I was living in. I even liked blaming the police for just doing their jobs. I felt like a victim and I was always searching for that big poor victim medal. I wanted answers and the more I searched the more I got frustrated. I felt that I was running out of options and that it was becoming hopeless. It was easier just to carry on being all that I wasnít. From the time I had my first spliff, to my last snowball of heroin and crack, my using progressed rapidly. The more I wanted, the more I needed, and that meant more money and bigger consequences!

Looking back on my journey in active addiction, I saw that I was lucky, and that if it wasnít for the jails and institutions I would certainly be dead. Thankfully I spent more days in prisons than on the streets in full blown addiction. Crime went hand in hand with my using, and it always ended in the same results.

The ripple effects of my actions had massive effects on myself, on my loved ones, on my community, and even on society. All I wanted was freedom in my mind. I wanted to experience life without fear and to be able to be normal, just to be able to love my wife, my children, my mum, my family, and have a little work van, and a job to take care of them to enjoy life with. Everything I tried ,whether it was people and places, or medication, it never succeeded! It always came back to the same results.

Since practising these 12 simple steps and attending meetings I am learning hand in hand with others to live my life in a way I couldíve never imagined. I no longer use mind altering substances. WOW! I love myself. I love others. And the more I accept myself the more I accept others. Iím no longer searching for answers or living in the past or wrapped in fear. I have freedom within. For me, I have found the answer and that all I had to do was to look inwards not outwards. Today, however I feel, whoever I am, whatever I have got, it is because of this program.

I can still remember the intense pleasure I felt when I was introduced to hash at the age of thirteen. It was as if a light had gone on, showing me a way of coping, unlike anything else I had experienced. I recall lying in bed that night, trying to work out how I could get some more. Little did I know that this thought was going to dominate my life for the next forty-four years.


My childhood was not easy and I developed a Ďpoor meí attitude very early. I was so envious of other children who had normal lives. My life was different and I felt it set me apart from everyone. I donít remember ever experiencing any real joy. Life was just hard work. In hindsight, I can see that happiness is an inside job and perhaps I would still have felt dissatisfied with life even if it had been Ďnormalí. Sadly, that realisation didnít occur to me until very late in life.


Life became unbearable when I was fourteen and I ran away from home. Thatís when my drug-taking career really took 0ff. Over the next few months. I experimented with alcohol, speed, cocaine, acid, mushrooms and a variety of uppers and downers. In the middle of this intense period, I was brought back by the police and placed in a childrenís home for a few weeks. All of a sudden, I was without my drugs, my coping agents. I was left with my thoughts and feelings and no way of dealing with this tortured state. At that point I realised how important drugs actually were to me. When I was returned home, I resolved never to be without drugs again if I could possibly help it. I maintained that resolve to the best of my ability until I was forty.


I didnít spend much time in school after that. It interfered far too much with real life - taking drugs and having fun! I left at sixteen and left home the same week. I muddled through the next few years, having good times and bad times. The only constant in my life was drugs.


I married aged 20. My husband wasnít around much. He officially left ten years later, leaving me with four children to look after. Times were hard, so I came up with the brilliant idea of getting some cash work in a pub. My drinking escalated and I continued with bar work when I moved the family to the city, where I studied for a while. I was also heavily involved in the illegal rave scene that was springing up at that time. Thatís when I introduced ecstasy to the mix. I couldnít get enough of the music, the anarchy, the excitement and all that drug-induced Ďloveí!


For a while, I thought everything was going really well. In the midst of my madness, I had still managed to set up a successful business. I was working hard and playing hard, but it was all at the expense of my family and my teenage daughters were becoming unmanageable. ďPoor meĒ I would moan at anyone who would listen.. ďHavenít I suffered enough over the years? Why do things always go wrong? Life is so unfair! I need more drugs to help me copeÖ.Ē This twisted thinking continued until I found myself alone, aged thirty-eight, with hardly any contact with my family.


I sank into a bleak, downward spiral of remorse, shame and self-pity. I could not understand how my life had come to this. I had experienced some times over the years when I thought It might be a good idea to slow down a bit with the drug-taking, but I used to bury those thoughts after unsuccessful attempts of controlled using. I was so full of self-loathing. I couldnít see the point of my existence. Thatís when I picked up heroin. I loved it. It did a fantastic job of keeping my feelings at bay, as well as bringing me down from crack. It worked really well for me for a short while. I was still earning good money, so I was able to maintain my habit, but within 2 years, I was in a very dark place. I had accumulated thousands of pounds worth of debt and I was rapidly crossing many lines of what I considered acceptable behaviour. My life had shrunk to getting up really early to use before work, wasting my breaks dashing to another area to use again, picking up on the way home and using till I passed out, Outside of work, I avoided speaking to anyone wherever possible, apart from loan companies and dealers.


Over the next fifteen years, I tried to solve my problem. I attended two rehab centres, three inpatient detoxes, tried three community detoxes and suffered through countless cold turkeys. Sometimes, I managed to stay clean for a while on sheer willpower, or by attending some 12-step fellowship meetings, but I could never stay stopped. Life without drugs was too hard. I did find light at the end of the tunnel for a while, when I was introduced to a member of Drug Addicts Anonymous and I embraced the programme of recovery that was on offer wholeheartedly. However, once I started to feel a bit better, I stopped making my recovery my number one priority and inevitably, I picked up again. ĎJust the oneí I promised myself, yet again. That relapse lasted three years. I experienced some severe consequences during that time and at the end of it, I was utterly defeated and willing to do anything. As I had found some relief before at DAA, I returned to the fellowship. This time, I stopped listening to my own head. I listened to the experiences of other drug addicts at the meetings and took guidance from a sponsor, someone who was willing to show me how she had recovered. I discovered a solution to my problem.


Today, I have hope. I have been released from the obsession to use drugs. I have found some peace and a new way to live. I enjoy my life and the future excites me!

Since I was a child I have felt crippled with feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, depression, and a general feeling of something being extremely wrong constantly. I have to stress that I have experienced nothing traumatic to cause this. I come from a very loving and generous home, and I have never Ďgone withoutí. Although I have always had plenty of friends, I felt very uncomfortable around them, alienated and different. Externally nothing looked wrong, yet my internal state said otherwise.

With age, this progressed, and the internal discomfort I felt was unbearable. When I found alcohol and drugs, life didnít seem so grey anymore, and I felt like I could finally be present, carefree and comfortable, particularly in the company of others. Life felt like one unbearable itch, and drugs did a great job at scratching it. I was free at last.

At 18 I went to University to be Ďnormalí, because I felt like it was something that I was supposed to do, but I had no real motivation, dreams or goals. My only goal was to constantly fix my internal state. When I dropped out, I had the ability to say no to drugs. I made a decision to stop using cocaine and alcohol, and I did. Addiction is a progressive disease, and at this point I had the power choice.

Fast forward a year, and I am using copious amounts of skunk and alcohol daily. By this point, I have lost the power of choice. I am simply a puppet being controlled by my addiction, and I am using daily against my will. No one understood why I was continuing to use when the drugs were making my life, and mental health worse. Every day was a desperate attempt to not phone the dealer, and yet another fail. I could not stick to my decision. I just thought that I was trying hard enough. ďTomorrow will be differentĒ I would say, and yet everyday looked the same. I felt trapped, my possessed by something beyond my mental capacity. I couldnít explain it.

At my first meeting I was immediately greeted by a group of friendly people who had experienced what I had. They had a solution for me. I was skeptical at first because I had seen lots of doctors, therapists and completed other non 12-step programmes in the past which had failed. DAA was my last resort, but they told me that there was no willpower required. They were right. Today I am almost eighteen months clean and sober having gone through the 12 steps. I have never felt so good. I have found a way to live without drugs, and actually be happy, and at peace. I am no longer compelled to use drugs, at all. I do not cling on for dear life, one day at a time, feeling miserable and sorry for myself. I am free from the torture of my own head. I no longer feel like a puppet on a string. My life has changed beyond belief.

My name is Tony and I'm a recovered addict. When I was young I felt different, like I didn't fit in. I felt awkward and alone, even when I was in a crowd of my friends. I eventually ended up trying alcohol and found that it changed the way I felt straight away. Then I discovered cannabis and found it helped me to fit in. I tried speed and felt amazing. When I took pills I found it much easier to get on with people. I found through drugs and alcohol a way out; they gave me confidence and social standing.

I found myself selling drugs and committing crime after crime to fund my addiction. I eventually ended up in prison and this was my first indication that I may have a problem but I still wasn't quite ready to do anything about it. I soon relapsed after release from prison.

After making so many promises that this would be the start of something great - but as usual my drug problem got in the way. By now I was into class A drugs in a big way. Coke, crack and heroin were on the table and I loved it - I finally found my solution.

I then met a girl. She got pregnant and I swore that I would stop for her and I did for a short while. But I couldn't stay stopped, not for her, or for the baby. My addiction had taken over and my illness was progressing. It took my use of heroin, crack and drinking to new heights.

I became isolated, antisocial, moody and depressed. I couldn't see a way out my addict life. It seemed like the only normal one so I tried to end my own life. I woke up in hospital scarred and battered from my failed attempt at suicide. All I could think about was using the one thing that I crave that destroys me. That was the insanity of my life now.

I eventually ended up in prison because of my using. I tried going to church, doing a course to educate myself and all I can think about is...? You guessed it - drugs.

I know I that I'm bang in trouble so I applied for treatment and I get a place in rehab. But unfortunately rehab didn't work. It was an amazing place but it didn't work for me. I left rehab and still wanted to use. That's when I asked a member of DAA to take me through the 12 steps of Drug Addicts Anonymous. After I went through the process of the 12 Steps I'm pleased to tell you I found a way out and I recovered. I'm 18 months clean now and I can say I have some hope if you relate to my story. Maybe we can help. I hope you find us soon.

My relationship with drugs started at an early age; to be honest it started before I even started taking them.

My home life wasn't great. My father was an abusive alcoholic who had fled the country to avoid paying (amongst other things) child maintenance - this made me angry and upset a lot of the time. I often felt that there was something wrong with me - that I didn't fit in with everyone else and was very much inferior.

When I was around 11 years old, I remember that whenever I saw or heard anything about drugs - be it in a newspaper, in the news or in the school playground - I was drawn to it like a magnet. I'm unsure of exactly what it is that attracted me to them, though I found the concept of being able to change the way I felt very seductive. I couldn't wait to start taking them; I desperately wanted to experience them first hand.

I started using butane gas. The first time I tried it I passed out unconscious and woke up in a daze. As soon as I came around I did it again. Rather than being scared of what had just happened, I loved it and wanted more. Looking back I think this was quite a tell-tale sign of things to come. I continued to use butane gas as often as I possibly could - until I found a connection that could get me cannabis.

As with the gas, I started smoking cannabis at every possible opportunity every single day. I found that without it I couldn't cope with life at all, everything was boring, everything was a chore. I would steal and lie to get money if needed, and easily justified it to myself as I felt that bad without drugs in my system. The way I used cannabis was different from others as well, rather than using it socially like my friends - I wanted to be alone in my room stoned. I hated the idea of having to share my drugs.

As I grew into my later teens, I quickly started to have access to stronger drugs - speed, ecstasy, acid and Ketamine etc. I fell in love with these substances, and they were at the very centre of my life. This was in the mid-90's, rave culture had exploded and it seemed that everybody was taking them. This made it easy for me to heavily abuse these drugs and not be noticed as an addict. My use of these drugs continued to escalate, and I soon began injecting them. This had a powerful effect on me, and I would be strung out all the time. By the age of 17, I had developed a strong needle fixation - and would inject any substance I could get my hands on.

I knew that my drug use was way out of control. I knew that the way I used and thought about drugs was deeply unhealthy and not like Ďnormalí people. The problem was that I really didnít know how to change things. I just couldnít comprehend living a drug-free life. The thought of it terrified me.

Somehow, throughout this I had started training as a chef, had got a job, and was actually very good at it. Using this I managed to get a live-in position hundreds of miles away from my hometown. I thought that if I could just get away from my current environment then things would be OK - I would be able to have a fresh start and get on with my life and live like a normal person. This didnít work for me. Although I was able to hold my drug use down for a short while, it was only a matter of time before I broke down again and my life would become unmanageable, I was unable to cope without drugs in my life and I would welcome them back with open arms.

This repeated itself for a few years until I found heroin at the age of 24. I quickly became physically as well as mentally addictive, and things went from bad to worse. The next 10 years of my life consisted of train wreck after train wreck.

Every opportunity I had fell to pieces as I was unable to put anything before my drug use. At one stage it seemed that I had everything I thought I wanted - a job, a flat and was engaged to my childhood sweetheart - but these things where just not enough to stop me using. My family had stopped talking to me and I had no real friends. Drugs had taken me to a place where I genuinely hated my life - I hated the destruction it caused me and my loved ones, I hated lurching from crisis to crisis, I hated living like an animal and feeling ill all the time.

Sometimes, I would have these moments of clarity - where I would take stock of my lifestyle and my surroundings. It terrified me. Though what really scared me was that I knew no way out of this nightmare. My only solution was to use more, and try not to think about it.

I was in regular contact with drug support agencies and counsellors, and would listen to what they said but couldnít put any plans or strategies they suggested into action. After multiple failed attempts of getting clean I was sent to an in-patient detox followed by residential rehab. To this day, I believe that this saved my life - I needed removing from society for my own safety. Overdose and/or suicide where becoming a very real possibility.

During this period, I was surrounded by lots of people that were trying really hard to help me. I learnt a lot about myself, and built up some confidence in my recovery. I was sure that when I left I would be strong enough to stay off drugs and alcohol for good.

Unfortunately, this wasnít the case. Very quickly my old way of thinking came back. I began obsessing about drugs and easily justified that using 'just one more time' would be OK. Very quickly 'just one time' turned into 'all day every day' - and I was back at square one. A friend of mine suggested that I go to a DAA meeting. I had tried other fellowship meetings before, but found them off-putting. I didn't like the 'god' word that I saw in their literature and found that the people at the meeting made me resentful - as they had something that I thought was beyond my grasp. Though this time I simply had no other option; I had exhausted every other avenue of recovery to no avail.

When I got to the DAA meeting, I found that I was surrounded by people that were like me. They understood my warped thinking around drugs as they had suffered from it as well. They talked about drugs and addiction and the thinking behind it in a way that I completely understood and related to. Most importantly though, is that they had found a way out of it - most of them where leading normal happy lives without destroying themselves with drugs. I started going regularly, and soon picked up a 'sponsor'. He gave me a few simple suggestions to do every day, and started taking me through the 12 steps.

I found that fairly quickly, the fear and anxiety that I woke up to every day disappeared, I had a certain peace of mind that I had never had before. This felt great and motivated me to carry on. As I worked through the steps I found that I thought about drugs less and less. When the thought of using did come into my mind, I found that I was more easily able to see the reality behind my using and would be able to quickly dismiss the thought without it being a struggle.

Since joining DAA, I havenít used drugs or alcohol for a number of years, and have been given the opportunity to enjoy a life I never thought possible for addicts like me. More importantly, my family and loved ones are no longer suffering and hurting as a result of my drug use.

I don't think that I'm 'cured' from drug addiction; to be honest I don't think such a thing exists. I've simply been given a set of tools and principles to live by that allows me to hold the illness of drug addiction at bay with relative ease.

I'm also not the 'odd one out' by far - since being in DAA, I have seen many, many people come into the rooms in exactly the same condition as me (or worse) and successfully rebuild their lives and maintain long-term recovery. This is an amazing thing to see and to be a part of, and would recommend anybody struggling with drug use to give DAA a chance and have the same experience.

My name is Steve and Iím a drug addict.

Often as I sat, broken, in the nightmare of my life as a using addict I questioned how this had come to pass. There was no early life of social deprivation, no traumatic event on which I could pin what had become of me. I was born into a comfortable, loving, middle class family that had worked itís way up from humbler roots. Despite the comforts I enjoyed my parents did their best to instil in me the virtues of hard work, humility and moderation. Needless to say, despite their noble efforts they were not successful. I was lazy, awkward, shy and spent most of my time in a fantasy world. It seemed to me that I was an alien to all around me. Different and distant from family and peers. Only fear of the disapproval of others kept me on the straight and narrow and my head down to achieve moderately well at school.

On leaving home for Polytechnic, free from the afore mentioned fear, drugs entered the picture and everything in terms of my experience of life and myself changed, instantly. Suddenly Steve was cool; Steve was free to be whoever he wanted to reinvent himself as. I thought I had chosen to invent myself as someone who wanted to be the best at taking the most drugs. Some kind of revolutionary anarchist shaman. I told myself and anyone who would listen that I was on a noble quest to explore the deepest recesses of consciousness to benefit mankind, leading it to a better future on some other dimensional plane. Clearly delusional now but it made perfect sense at the time. The drugs must have been good back then.

These wonderful, exciting days lasted but a few years before the curtain of delusion was pulled down. It became all too apparent that my Shamanic mission had been a failure and that all I had done was take a lot of drugs. My peers had left the party and started to get on with building lives for themselves so I decided to do the same, enrolling as a trainee Psychiatric Nurse. I considered myself well qualified as a result of all my psychedelic research. I had no intention of stopping taking drugs. Merely applying some moderation in order to fit it in around my life as a student nurse. This plan lasted about three months before I dropped the whole thing in favour of a return to full time drug taking, experiencing huge relief and peace as I did so.

I wonít bore you with repeat stories but suffice to say that over the next twenty years the story played out again and again. Countless attempts to take on positions of responsibility that required drug taking to take second place such as jobs, educational opportunities and parenthood. The re-emergence of my disturbed, discontented, fearful state of mind and a headlong rush to return drugs to centre stage and the peace and comfort they brought me. What did change was that each time I returned to the drugs I used harder and used harder drugs, bringing about more destructive consequences as a result. Paramount among these was the increase in my selfishness in order to get what I needed (more drugs mostly) and the wearing thin of the patience of those caring, tolerant folks off whom I leached my existence.

Abandoned by these caring friends and family I was forced to drag myself around with those addicts whom I had always looked down upon. To be honest I still did look down on them. While they seemed content with their lot at the bottom of the social ladder and continuing to use, I was giving up and headed back to the position of prestige I rightfully deserved. I was, however, always doing this tomorrow. I turned up to score so often with a declaration that I was getting clean that I was given the nickname of ĎGiving Up Steveí. How dare they mock me, didnít they know I was better than them? Appalled at this lack of respect I became ever more reclusive, confining my social contact to that necessary to obtain the drugs I needed. However, those drugs were no longer working. They still got me high but the escape from my fearful, disturbed mind was brief at best. Often crying onto the foil as I smoked more and more, desperate for relief from myself. Each night I would resolve to stop in the morning. Each morning the resolve was gone. I knew that it was going to take something dramatic to enable me to stop but was clueless as to what. Heaven forbid that I should swallow my pride (ever massive despite my circumstances) and ask for help. It had to be my brilliant idea.

Throughout the previous few years a dear friend, now living miles away, had been regularly and patiently suggesting that meetings and the 12 steps may help. It had certainly had a miraculous effect on her life as she enjoyed, yes enjoyed sobriety. I was horrified by the idea of attending meetings. I had the sneaking suspicion that it would require honesty on my part or that the folks there would see through my lies. I was also convinced that I would not be accepted as being a real addict. I had never shoplifted (too scared) and I had tried Crack once and didnít like it. Surely they wonít let me in. Any excuse to avoid levelling my pride and asking for help.

That same friend had visited and made amends to me. That was surely the key. I decided to give up all my personal possessions in a dramatic ascetic gesture. I hit the road with a bag on my back to get the drugs out of my system in the beautiful wilds of Britain and say sorry to family and friends along the way. A bright, romantic future lay ahead as a spiritual wanderer. I would be welcomed back as a hero by those to whom I apologised. My plan did not work out. The skeletal sight that appeared before those I visited horrified them and caused more harm. My appalling spiritual condition became ever more apparent to me. Even the birds and bunny rabbits that I thought would bring me joy became subject to my hatred. I wanted to end it all but lacked the courage. I knew that using would bring me some relief but that going back to that would mean an unbearably empty existence. One I feared that would not bring me death soon enough.

My pride and my faith in my ability to solve my drug/life problem was broken. Despite still clinging to all the same fears of what I would find, I got to a meeting of DAA. More of an instinctual survival move than any decision on my part. What awaited me there was beyond anything I could have hoped for. I was welcomed without question or judgement by friendly helpful faces, despite my desire to shrink into a corner and hide. I donít remember what I heard that night but it was enough to know that if I was like these guys (I hoped I was sick like them) that the solution they practiced just might work for me. More driven by something than through any choice on my part I found myself at the end of the meeting asking for a sponsor to take me through the 12 steps.

Following the actions he suggested had an instantaneous and profound effect on my perception. By thinking of and acting for others, no matter how I felt about myself, my own spiritual wellbeing transformed. As I prayed for a clean and sober day I found the strength to resist the temptation that was all around me. This dramatic shift, new hope and lust for life was the fuel that propelled me through the rest of the work. Even when horrified by the truth around my selfishness in my step 4 or fearful of having my ego cut down to size while making amends, this power that filled my spirit and a sure knowledge that I would return to using if I faltered kept me going forward. I was directed to and gratefully accepted numerous opportunities to be of service to my fellow addicts and with large amounts of the resentment, fear and guilt that had plagued my spirit cut away, I found that I was better equipped to be of service to others than I had thought possible. Gradually I found that I was able to be of service to many other areas of society and the more I focussed on what I could give and had faith, the more my own needs were met without effort on my part.

Iíd be lying if I said it was all plain sailing. My ego is far from down for the count and shit happens. However, so long as Iíve been willing to apply the principles of the 12 steps, been willing to be of service to my fellow addicts and willing to turn away from my selfish, fearful impulses and towards a power greater than myself, Iíve been ok. More importantly, I havenít had the desire to use. Thoughts yes, desire no.

I am blessed with an amazing gift and just like the guys I encountered at that first meeting I wish for nothing more than to give it away, for fun and for free.

I grew up in a leafy suburban town and, when I look back now, my childhood seemed idyllic. I remember playing in the woods, making dams, tree houses and camps with my friends. I lived in a lovely house, with 2 brothers and a sister, my mum and dad and a dog. It was a very happy and loving home. However my earliest memories of myself are ones of an uncomfortable restlessness. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 and this is when I really started to think that I was different from the other kids. This resulted in me getting bullied quite a lot and getting into a lot of fights. I had an explosive temper; it was as though I had a Jekyll and Hyde personality and as I grew to realise this it scared me.

At 12, my mother, who would always look for the best solutions to my learning difficulties, found a school for kids with dyslexia. This was my first real life-changing experience: suddenly, I wasnít singled out for being stupid or different. I made a vow to myself that I would no longer be angry and would try to re-train myself to be calmer and less volatile. Until I found recovery, I thought I had tamed that beast inside me through self-restraint alone. But I now realise that it was also around this time that I started drinking and was introduced to things like sniffing glue and aerosols. It is clear to me now that I was by nature restless, irritable and discontent. Once I found something that took those feelings away, I had unknowingly found the solution; a temporary cure to an illness I did not know I had.

From then on I used alcohol or substances regularly. Around the age of 15, my older brother introduced me to hash and I took some to school. Instantly, I became more popular and more interesting to the other kids. For a very long time I seemed to be able to handle life, people and places with more confidence and less fear. By the time I left school at 17, I used something for ease and comfort every day - although I thought it was just for my enjoyment.

I spent my late teens going to parties, hanging out in squats and generally doing nothing else but getting stoned, taking mushrooms, acid and speed, and drinking. I did go to a local college, where I did a course in media, and somehow, through the persistence and guidance of my parents, I got a job working for a TV channel. All of a sudden I had money and a promising career. At this time I also discovered ecstasy and clubbing. Life was good; I had bouts of fear and anxiety but I was living in London, I had a good job and I partied as much as I could. I spent the next 10 years working hard, partying, drinking and taking drugs.

At 30 years old I was working for a company that had its head office in Holland and they asked me if I would go there to work for them. I found myself living in a place where I could indulge in smoking weed and sleeping with prostitutes. After 6 months in Holland, my company opened an office in Berlin and I moved there. I liked Berlin a lot but I was very lonely. I found it easy to find drugs and I started drinking on my own, mainly whisky. One morning in Berlin I got a call from my dad telling me that my mother had cancer. I did not take this news very well: I was very close to my mother, and the news that she was gravely ill took me to a new place of self-pity and fear. It has taken me a very long time to see how I used the news of my motherís illness to feed my addiction. ĎPoor meí became my best excuse to use: happy or sad, I could allow myself to indulge in whatever I felt wanted to do to make myself feel better. I was able to use the pity card whenever and with whomever I wanted - and it worked.

I returned to London. Within 3 years my mother had passed away, my using had moved to a new level and I had discovered cocaine. For the next 10 years I was out of control, but somehow I still managed to hold down a good job and I started to earn more money. Through my self-pity and a 'poor me' attitude I justified using and living a lifestyle I could not afford, feeding what I know now is a spiritual malady. The feelings of restlessness and a discontentment that I felt as a child, before I had found drugs and alcohol, filled up in me again and I was surrounded by ever-increasing feelings of dread, fear and anxiety.

I travelled the world and ended up living in Hong Kong, which a friend described as the 'Devil's paradise'. In Hong Kong I could indulge in all the things that made me feel release from my malady. Although it was only temporary, I knew of no other way to feel okay. I was by now drinking a lot every night and spending a lot of time doing cocaine. After nearly 4 years of this, I returned to the UK and over the next 3 years things really started to fall apart. I was in massive amounts of debt, and I spent all my spare time either in a bar or on my own in my flat drunk and high. I eventually lost my job and my flat was about to be repossessed by the bank.

I had reached my first real rock bottom. It is very hard to describe how I felt at this time because it is not something that can be explained, it can only really be felt. Suicide was my most common thought. The pain I felt was so deep and dark, as if there was a black hole inside of me that was consuming my soul, leaving me empty and without the energy that is life itself. I was unable to see the world properly: the internal and mental pain I felt as soon as I would wake up every day consumed me. It was like no other pain I had experienced in my life, physical or mental: I felt as though death was upon me and I welcomed it. But I had a moment of clarity: I saw a chink of light in my darkness and knew I needed to reach out and honestly admit that I was powerless over this and that I needed help. I called my sister and just said 'help me'.

My family found a treatment centre, where they detoxed me and gave me a safe place to be while the fog cleared. There I learned about the disease of addiction; I found out what I suffer from and how to live with it. I met many people from entirely different backgrounds whose lives were very different to mine but who suffered from the exact same feelings of restlessness, discontent, fear and anxiety that I did. The treatment centre was like living in a bubble: it was safe and I was constantly surrounded by people that I could relate to but I was not living a real life. It was not until I had to leave the treatment centre and return to London that I really needed to find the solution to the illness of addiction. I went to a DAA meeting in London, where I heard a clear message of recovery and found a solution.

After my second DAA meeting, it became very clear to me that I wanted what these people had: a happy and carefree life where I would not have to worry about triggers, and where I could go anywhere and do anything without fear, loneliness and despair. I had been sober for 6 months and yet I still suffered from all of this and an overwhelming sense of self: self-centredness, selfishness and most of all self-pity. The message I heard was to get a sponsor, who would give me a set of suggestions to follow and take me through the 12 Steps. I asked the guy sitting next to me to be my sponsor. He kindly took me through the work, helping me to find the gift of true recovery from a hopeless state of mind and spirit and from the obsession to use drink and drugs to fix myself.

Through doing the 12 Steps I have had a complete change in my thinking. I have had my fears removed and am now able to go anywhere and do anything. I have an ease and comfort that I have never felt in my entire life. All the things that consumed my thoughts and my worries have been taken away, I am free from the obsession to use drink and drugs, and I am happy, calm and content most of the time.

This is a progressive illness, so I need to work my programme of recovery every day. If I go a day without doing what I have learned, I very quickly become ill again: old feelings return, I start to take my will back and run on self-will, and I get resentments and feelings of discomfort that, left untreated, will lead me to use drugs and alcohol again. I work my programme because I have a healthy fear of not returning to how I felt before. I am not perfect by any means, but I now have the tools and the knowledge to put the action in that is required to stay calm and at ease, and to feel free from the obsession to use and from my discomfort with life. I feel better now than I ever felt before I found recovery.

I was in complete denial about my drug addiction for a long time. I went to my first meeting with a friend of mine in 2001. My girlfriend had just broken up with me and I felt so sad that I went to see my friend under the influence of a drug. She was going to a meeting that night and suggested I join her. I didn't want to be on my own so I went to that meeting so that I didn't have to be alone. I left the meeting saying to myself, 'Iím glad Iím not like that lot' and said goodbye to my friend. I immediately went home and got high. As far as I was concerned I wasnít an addict; I was a drug user - not a drug abuser. I didnít even consider that I may have a problem. It was almost another seven years before I accepted that I was an addict and returned to meetings to engage in the 12 Step program of recovery.

Three months after that first meeting I was in my British army sleeping bag on a park bench in sub-zero temperatures in a strange city. I had just woken up, my sleeping bag covered with a couple of inches of snow. I sat up and noticed a hedgehog in front of the bench looking up at me and sniffing the air. I smiled at the hedgehog and I thought that the hedgehog looked content and curious at the intruder in his home territory. I began to think about myself and my situation and banged my fist on the bench saying to myself, 'How the hell have I ended up homeless again. Thank God Iíve at least got a carrier bag full of Tennentís Super to keep me going.' I was in tears because, believe me, being homeless in winter on the streets is tough, especially when you throw in the emotional torment that drug addiction causes, such as the paralysing fear and depression. It would have been blatantly obvious to an observer that I was in that position as the direct result of my drug addiction but drugs were, at that time, my only friend. It was the only thing that gave me comfort and a sense of hope for the future.

Incidentally, I would just like to point out that one does not have to have been homeless to be a drug addict. It just happens to be part of my story.

Two years later I was homeless, again, and was offered a room in a home run by a charity to help alcoholics and drug addicts get back on their feet. One of the house rules was that I had to attend meetings. I argued profusely with the house manager that I wasnít an addict and that I didnít need to go to meetings, such was my denial. But I went to meetings as I wanted a roof over my head.

I went to a meeting and listened very carefully. I really related to other people's stories and even though I couldn't bring myself to accept that I was an addict I did admit that maybe I had a problem and decided to do what everyone else in the meeting had done to overcome their addiction and to rebuild their lives. I decided to get myself a sponsor to show me how to work through the 12 Step program of recovery.

Nine months later I got as far as completing Step 8 and I felt wonderful. I had peace of mind; my self-respect had returned; I had my own flat; I was doing a college course I really enjoyed and had, what seemed to be, a nice girlfriend.

I convinced myself that I wasnít an addict after all, that I had just been a problem drug taker, and left meetings. I just could not and would not accept that I was an addict. Of course, I began to take drugs again as I like taking drugs. Just on Friday and Saturday nights to start with - MDMA and Ethanol (8 pints of Kronenbourg lager to you and me!) Sundays were spent waking up to watch Country File on the TV and smoking copious amounts of Cannabis throughout the day. I worked in a scrapyard and found no problem staying away from drugs between Monday morning and Friday night.

I managed to take these drugs successfully for quite some time. I knew that I had to be careful and moderate my drug use as I had learnt a lot about the nature of addiction when I used to go to meetings. But as I am an addict a downward spiral slowly started to develop where I began to lose control of the amount I would take. Eventually my drug taking became the worse it had ever been and I knew that my life was rapidly falling apart at the seams yet again. Finally the day came when that utter denial I had suffered from was completely over as I remembered the book ĎAlcoholics Anonymousí saying that drug addiction is a progressive illness and that we always get worse, never better. In that moment I realised that I was an addict and made the decision to return to meetings to work through the 12 Step program of recovery.

I am reminded of a particular lady that I met in a meeting in 2003. She was an alcohol addict and came to meetings for two weeks and then disappeared. I saw her soon afterwards in a government building and we were both waiting to be seen so we had a chat. She told me she had severe liver damage and was told at hospital that her condition was so severe that if she continued to drink that she would probably die within a matter of weeks. She was in fact very lucky to be alive as the liver tissue was healthy around the main artery that supplied blood to her liver and she would survive and live a relatively normal life if she stopped drinking immediately. She seemed happy and was telling me about her new positivity and felt she didnít need to go to meetings anymore. I wished her the best of luck. A few weeks later I told another lady in a meeting that I had seen her a few weeks ago and asked if she had spoken to her recently. She said that this lady had drunk herself to death just as the doctors had warned. That is denial in its extreme and I have since had several friends that have died from the drugs that they have been addicted to.

We, that are of the hopeless variety, suffer from a very real, life threatening condition. Fortunately for us DAA exists and offers us the opportunity to recover from our drug addiction through the 12 Step program of recovery. Thank you DAA for providing me a bridge to normal living!

Workshops

Audio file Description
Public Information / Hospitals & Institutions DAA workshop
Duration1hr
Filesize62 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereChester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersDan M & Hannah K
Download and listen DanM-HannahK-chester-unity-day-2016-PI-HI-workshop.mp3

DAA Chester Unity Day workshop on Steps 1, 2, & 3 part 1
Duration1hr
Filesize74.2 MB
Bitrate44 kbps
WhereDAA Chester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersAndy
Download and listen andy-chester-unity-day-2016-workshop-part1.mp3

DAA Chester Unity Day workshop on Steps 1, 2, & 3 part 2
Duration50:24
Filesize56.4 MB
Bitrate44 kbps
WhereChester Unity Day
WhenSaturday 14th May 2016
SpeakersAndy
Download and listen andy-chester-unity-day-2016-workshop-part2.mp3

Audio file Description
DAA Traditions Workshop part 1
Duration42:15
Filesize40 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereLondon
WhenSaturday 16th May 2015
SpeakersChris H
Download and listen chris-h-trads-workshop-part1-london2015.mp3

DAA Traditions Workshop part 2
Duration42:15
Filesize40.9 MB
Bitrate kbps
WhereLondon
WhenSaturday 16th May 2015
SpeakersChris H
Download and listen chris-h-trads-workshop-part2-london2015.mp3


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