Hello, this is my story of being a talented rugby player with a prosperous future ahead of him to then getting caught in the grip of progressive illness (addiction) to mood-changing, mind-altering substance and gambling for 20 years, surviving an attempt on his life, only to pulled out of the wreckage and propelled into salvation.

In my childhood and adolescence I was a promising athlete, played rugby for my county and also represented my school for shot putt and discuss where I broke local track and field records, I received many trophies medals , and certificates for my hard won experience.

This became detrimental to my development growing up, I placed all my eggs in one basket on the hope I was going to be a professional rugby player and denied my education. I started to be very disruptive in classes and thought I new best and became very closed minded, no ideas or new ideas can be grafted onto a closed mind. The company I held was of the same calibre of me and I got up to allsorts of mischief.

Early teens my inner and outer world started to change, certain things were easily accessible, and I started experimenting with different substances- alcohol, cannabis and solvents. Immediately this changed my demeanour and how I viewed myself and the world I lived in, I started to experience adverse side effects: – paranoia, anxious, mood swings and impetigo under my arms. My memory soon become impaired finding it hard to remember things and learn new information.

When I left school, I went to college to get a trade in carpentry and joinery, I was still smoking a lot of cannabis regularly and it was effecting my performance at college where I had to make to the imperative decision either stay at home and get high or put the cannabis down and apply myself to my trade to get the qualifications necessary to become a qualified carpenter. I decided to let the cannabis go which paid dividends in the end, I got awarded with my qualification, apprentice of the year and most improved apprentice of the year.

In the environment I was working in there was a big drink and drug culture and I got sucked into this heavily and all my wages were getting spent funding this lifestyle. I soon became unemployable because I wasn’t reliable. My weekends spent partying spilled over into the weekdays and my reputation had been affected in the trade due to my actions. I started to participate in other ways and means to fund my addiction and restored to criminal activity, I got myself into a lot of debt cause I was using the drugs which I was meant to be selling, the by-product of this was a constant cycle of geographical moves to different areas to shake the dealers off and try start off a fresh, this just lead to the same results because I took the problem with me where ever I moved to, which was me.

I was resigned to the fact I was going to die this way, I was very despondent and wanted to end my life but didn’t quite know how, so I continued to press people’s buttons more frequently and erratically to get a rise from them. It was like I was passing them the rope to hang me. My using progressed onto daily use of crack cocaine heroine and alcohol .My living skills had been reduced to the animal level, I ostracised and cut myself off from society and lived in isolation, even my associates at the time didn’t approve of my behaviours. I manipulated others and was very devious showing a skilling use of underhanded tactics to achieve my goal, I would be patting you on the back with one hand whilst the other one was in your pocket. I stole begged lied and cheated to fund my habits and was hating the man I had become, I was totally powerless and my life was unmanageable.

Towards the latter stage of my addiction I was living in a hostel and my tenancy was coming to end, I needed to find somewhere else to live but was out of options and started to consider another change so I went to my local drug and alcohol services where I started to engage, they allocated me a support worker and we started looking into the possibility of accessing a grant for a detox and rehabilitation programme, at the time I was only interested in weather I got secure accommodation cause I was still in complete denial about my using I just wanted a roof over my head. After making some progress with my support worker she got assigned to go work in another area and my new support worker couldn’t see me for another two months.

Meanwhile, in the interim, I got furthermore intrenched in my ways and couldn’t see a way out was possible for me. I carried on in the activities I was pursuing until one night I got stopped in my tracks where a shabby deal went wrong, and I encountered a life changing event where someone tried to make an attempt on my life with a bladed article. This hospitalised me due to multiple stab wounds and I was very lucky to escape this alive.

This attack worked in my favour, as I re engaged with drug and alcohol services where my case was fast tracked to the local panel and to my surprise, I was granted funding for detox and treatment.
I now was to wait for a date to start my newfound journey in recovery and was whisked away to a safe haven for 1month away from all the madness I had created to a YHA which my family funded.
Whilst I was waiting for my detox someone suggested my Mother bought me a book which she sourced from a charity online, the book was very disturbing cause it had a picture of a switch blade on the front cover, I was very reluctant to read this also I hadn’t read a book from front to cover for decades and found reading difficult. However, I had a lot of time to kill so I picked up this book called RUN BABY RUN and started reading it. The book is about a Puerto Rican guy called Nicky Cruz who was sent to New York by his mother and father to live with his brother from a young age because he was rebellious, there he joined one of the toughest street gangs until one day an evangelist called David Wilkerson from Indiana saw on the news that 3 gang members were up for a murder trial and he was prompted to go to New York to meet David.

Shortly after reading this book I started my journey in recovery where I went to a detox centre in Manchester for 21 days after successfully completing my detox from buprenorphine (heroin substitute) then proceeded onto a therapeutic community centre in Lancaster called Littledale hall. After completing 5 months in treatment I then moved into supported housing in a charitable organisation called Adullam and started engaging with their programme. I nearly never came to Adullam because it all seemed really strange and I was so anxious about leaving the safe bubble the treatment centre created.

Its through God’s grace and God’s grace alone that I am now 2 years 4 months abstinent from substance misuse, the obsession and compulsion to use has also been lifted. I have no desire to use whatsoever. I only have to look at my history to see GODS mercy prevailing in my life and how he had put his healing hand on my life and showed me a new path.

I am a new creation now the old has gone and the new is here, I am currently using my experience to help others who have been impacted by substance misuse coaching and bridging the gap to ordinary living. thanks for reading GOD BLESS YOU. Ollie x