Change Grow Live – health and social care charity

Gareth's story

My life started out as any normal young boy’s life did. I went through school, had friends and did the normal things a growing boy did. A pivot point for me was my father committing suicide when I was only 8, this marked the start of a behavioural decline that would ultimately lead me to where I am today.  Being the eldest of 5 siblings I had a lot to live up to, I had the responsibility of being a role model. This had no bearing on my decision making as I began to engage in very risky behaviours.

My drug use started from the age of 13 which lead to a 12-year addiction to heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol. Parallel to this was a life of crime, and inevitably prison. Being involved in supplying drugs, conspiracy, trafficking and smuggling my life was mayhem for the best part of 12 years. In and out of prison and in and out of services - it seemed like there was no hope for me at all.

I managed to get myself clean of drugs with help from services and began to rebuild my life. Although I relapsed and fell back into alcohol addiction I still managed to stay away from drugs. Then due to life changing events in my life I knew it was time for change yet again. Accessing services once again I secured a place in residential rehab to become abstinent. During this time, it was pointed out to me that I would make a good key worker aiding other people in recovery. This had always appealed to me so I decided to do something about it.

I enrolled in college studying Counselling skills and started looking for volunteering opportunities. This is when I found CGL, then known as CRI.

With the outstanding support from the organisation and the pure drive and determination that I have, I have since honed my skills and abilities and developed my professional integrity to that equal of a skilled helper. I have been a volunteer with CGL, T3 Staffs for almost 2 years now and I draw on my own experiences and use them along with the professional skills I have learned to help other people who are having the same issues I once had. Giving something back if you like, as I have taken so much in my time.

People say to me that I am an inspiration and that I have come far, to hear that is great for me. Personally I feel that I have been so lucky to receive the excellent support that I have had from the team at T3 and the encouragement that I also receive is second to none. I am about to start my second year of University where I am studying Psychology and I am planning to do my masters in addiction. On reflection of my life I would not change anything about my past as I feel it has all contributed to the person that I am today.

A final note would be to the people who are currently struggling, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, never give up, especially on yourself.