Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Eugene's story

I’ve been clean for exactly 176 days now. I first decided to join the Peer Mentor course when I arrived in Belmarsh in February 2014 and thought it seemed like a good way to stay focused. I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I first started using when I was 11. It was mostly solvents and gas at first, then cannabis and finally crack cocaine, which made me feel invincible. When I look back now, I can see I was trying to escape from the guilt I felt from not being able to protect myself and my sisters from our abuser.

When I was committing crime I didn’t care who I hurt or what I stole, all I cared about was getting high. The sentence I’m serving now, which I’ve been serving since 2006, was for attacking a man on the tube who very nearly died. Afterwards I still didn’t really acknowledge what I’d done because all I could think about was my next fix. Now I see that my behaviour was unforgiveable.

Graduating from the peer mentor course feels like a huge achievement but it’s also just the first step on the ladder. I’d really like to work in the substance misuse sector on my release, as I really enjoy helping others and I find that supporting others in their recovery actually helps me to stay clean too.

I’m currently halfway through a business qualification with the Open University and I hope to one day get my health and social care diploma. If I can stop just one person throwing away the majority of their life like I did, then I can work with that.

I talk more often and more openly to my family now and I feel so much happier within myself. I think I’ve truly found my calling here and, I’d just like to say - to Change Grow Live (CGL) and the guys at Belmarsh - thank you for this opportunity and I won’t let you down.

Have you been affected by any of the issues in Eugene's story?

If you'd like more information about some of the issues raised in Eugene's story, there is advice and support for adults abused in childhood available on the NSPCC website.