Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Mark's story*

I still find it hard to say that my grandad sexually abused me from when I was eight years-old. At the time I didn’t realise it was wrong, it was only when I got older that I realised it wasn’t normal but by then I couldn’t tell anyone. How do you tell your family something like that? Drugs helped me forget. 

It’s hard to explain how much that kind of abuse affects you – it’s literally changed the course of my life. I started smoking cannabis when I was 12 to cope with the anxiety and that led to harder drugs and time in jail. I left in 2010 and a condition of my release was getting treatment with CGL. To be honest, I wasn’t committed to it – I thought I could do it on my own, even though I was living with a partner who was also struggling with an addiction.

One day I came into Change Grow Live in tears – I was suicidal and desperately needed help. My key worker booked me into a detox and for the first time there was a shift in me. I met people who were in recovery and that gave me hope that I could change my life too.

It’s been a tough road since then. I only managed to open up about the abuse for the first time two years ago, which was incredibly scary because I’d suppressed those memories for so long and put on a ‘front’. Now I had to be vulnerable and open. I’m so glad I did it though because it was such a relief to talk about it.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been in recovery for almost two years now and have a job as a youth worker and manager for a kids’ football team. A lot of the children I work with have behavioural problems, so this job has really meant so much to me – to be there for them. I’m also back in touch with my family, which feels amazing.

To anyone reading this now who is struggling with similar issues, I want to say that you are not alone and it’s never too late to get help.

*Name has been changed to protect service user’s identity.

Have you been affected by any of the issues in Mark’s story?

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The NSPCC has support for children and families affected by abuse

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) has information and support for abuse survivors