Name: John

Age: 28

Location: Downpatrick

Programme: Low Threshold Drug and Alcohol

I was a 23-year-old man with a normal, happy life when things began to change for me. I had my own family and business, I loved life, and nothing annoyed me.

Things started getting on top of me, though, and I began developing mental health problems, depression and a personality disorder. When my brother died, it tipped me over the edge; I couldn’t cope with life, so I was admitted to hospital for treatment. Shortly after that, I had an accidental overdose.

I was in hospital for four months; slowly I got better, but it was a long, hard road learning to walk, talk and eat again. My family and kids got me through and I'm grateful I survived, even though I am left with the use of only one arm and memory loss.

When I got home I tried and tried to get my life back on track, but nothing was the same; I couldn’t do the things I used to do, and I didn’t look the way I used to. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing what life had thrown at me.

I tried to get back to work and training, and enjoy life with my family, but nothing felt the same. The pain I felt every day with my head and my arm was excruciating, and I was on so much morphine that I became addicted to it and it had stopped working.

I started to take more and more, buying it on the streets. It made me forget about all the bad things, and I couldn’t see the damage I was doing to myself and my family.

After a while, the tablets weren’t enough. I got myself in bad company and started taking heroin. I would literally do anything to get my fix. My savings were gone, and my partner had to make me leave because no matter what she said, I just couldn’t stop.

Luckily, she still worried about me and it was she who found me unresponsive in my van where I’d been sleeping. That was the last time I used, it made me realise I already had another chance.

Thankfully, with a lot of help from Extern’s Low Threshold team I got through the sickness and I can start to feel like myself again - enjoying life with my family. I don’t care what I look like now, I am just happy. I’ve managed to tackle my problem substance use, thanks to my partner and all the help and advice that my Extern keyworker have given me.