Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Shane's story

I’ll be the first person to say that I held stereotypical views about the sort of people who would use CGL's service.  I thought of alcoholics as people who slept on park benches and under newspaper; now I feel quite ashamed of thinking that.

I was working for the Home Office and drinking was such an engrained part of the culture - we had a bar onsite - that going for one or two at the end of the day was normal. There wasn’t really any support for alcoholism at the time; people just looked the other way.

I started drinking heavily when my first child, Jack, passed way. He was born premature and because him and his mum (my ex partner) were living in Ireland I didn’t get there in time to hold him before he died. When I was diagnosed with leukaemia shortly afterwards the pain felt overwhelming.

I was going through chemo, drinking heavily every day because I was convinced I was going to die. Eventually it got to the point where I felt like killing myself and in my darkest moments I walked round my house looking for spots where I could hang a noose.

My daughter was my saving grace. I thought about what it would do to her losing her daddy, thinking he didn’t love her enough to stay. Her name means princess, and she really is my princess; she’s the reason I decided to seek help.

When I first went to Change Grow Live I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was just so lovely. I had a peer mentor and I felt like I could be totally open and honest with him, he was such a lovely bloke. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Change Grow Live, because without them I wouldn’t be sharing this story with you right now.

When I got the opportunity to train as a peer mentor I jumped at the chance, having had such a positive experience myself. I love hearing other peoples' stories and sharing my own because it supports all of us in our recoveries. Even though we’re all from different walks of life the common thread that holds us all together is that we suffer from addiction

I’m now a volunteer recovery worker at Change Grow Live with seven clients. I’m also a keen cook and lead the breakfast club and cooking group. When I was misusing substances my confidence was at rock bottom but now I feel like I could talk in front of hundreds of people! I never thought I’d be able to say that.   

Thank god we have treatment services today. My dad suffered from alcoholism in the 70s and there was no support available. We do still have a long way to go though – I bet lots of people are too ashamed to come forward for help because of the stigma. That’s why I’m proud to talk about my dependency, because I want people to know they’re not alone.

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

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Macmillan provides free support services to anyone affected by cancer