Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Paul F's story

I’m going to be celebrating my two year ‘sober anniversary’ this October and I can’t wait! Personally, recovery has been a long journey for me. When I was younger I dreamt of one day becoming a footballer – I wasn’t half bad either – but after a motorcycle accident when I was 15 the doctors said I would never be able to play again. To be told that at such a young age is incredibly hard – having a smoke or drink helped me deal with it.

The motivation for me coming to Change Grow Live was my mum. Growing up my dad wasn’t around so we always had a very close relationship, but after she died a few years back I became seriously depressed. One day, I looked at a photo of her which I kept next to my bed and thought ‘you wouldn’t want to see your little boy like this; you’d want me to be happy.’ It gave me the push I needed to come and get help.

Since then I’ve gone from strength to strength. For about a year I volunteered with Change Grow Live and afterwards did the peer mentor training, which has really helped me get back on the ladder, career-wise. I have to say, volunteering for Change Grow Live has never seemed like work to me, it just feels like this is what I should be doing. When I was struggling they were there for me; now I have a responsibility to be there for others. It’s something I take extremely seriously.

I chair a peer-led mutual aid group which is going amazingly well. Recently we had the chief executive of a national supermarket chain attending the group to understand how they can support employees who might be struggling with substance misuse. Because of that meeting their Board is actually discussing changing their policy, which is a mindblowing result! Achieving something like that is definitely better than any high.   

I’m also on the Recovery Walk steering group and I’ll shortly be starting a job as a support worker for a supported housing service, which provides safe accommodation to vulnerable people. I’ve always known I would end up working in this field – I think working with people just comes naturally to me.  

What’s the secret to recovery? Well I was actually saying the other day I’ve always been stubborn and greedy and ironically that’s what’s kept me going in my recovery: the more I experience of recovery, the greedier and more stubborn I get, and the harder I work! I guess the secret is knowing that you already have everything you need to recover – accessing support just gives you a helping hand along the way. 

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

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