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.

John, (23), Low Threshold Drug and Alcohol

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