‘I have recovered my old self. That’s what I see recovery as – recovering yourself before addiction took over.’
Shaun from Grimsby was first introduced to drugs at the age of just nine. By the age of 12, he was using several different types of drugs, but alcohol quickly took over – and nearly ended – his life.
After alcohol and drug use spanning 20 years, Shaun describes how it severely impacted all aspects of his life including personal, work and health. Having replaced alcohol with cocaine after ten years of drinking, he was using four to five grams every night. After his divorce in 2020, Shaun was using both alcohol and cocaine and sadly, he made an attempt to end his life.
Thankfully, Shaun pulled through – despite a further lapse in recovery in 2021 – and determined to get help, he got in touch with alcohol, drug and mental health charity WithYou in North East Lincolnshire.
Recovery helped Shaun find himself and happiness again and he is now able to, in his own words, ‘give back’ to the alcohol and drug charity which helped save his life.
Shaun says: ‘I was introduced to drugs at a very early age. I advanced quickly to using things like glue, lighter fuel, petrol and by the age of 12 I was using amphetamines as well as LSD and other recreational drugs. It became a big problem. It stunts your maturity – it’s not good for a youngster to use drugs at that age.
‘Alcohol quickly became my drug of choice. I enjoyed alcohol. It gave me a sense of confidence. I was using it alongside amphetamines for about 20 years. It played a big part in lost jobs and failed marriages.
‘In 2020 I reached a massive cross-point in my life. I was ten years abstinent from alcohol but replaced it with cocaine. I was working in Belgium in a high-paid job as a supervisor but was using four to five grams every night. After another failed marriage I reverted back to alcohol. I attempted suicide as I had become so low – luckily it wasn’t successful. I was drinking three litres of Bacardi a day and any cocaine I could get my hands on.
‘Something had to give and it was my liver and my kidneys – they completely failed. I was admitted to hospital and given 48 hours to live. Thankfully I pulled. through – but even that never stopped me.
‘I relapsed in April 2021. I got support from WithYou and they massively helped me. I had to change my whole environment so I got employed in a local homeless night shelter which I really enjoyed. I was working with clients – many had a lot of trauma and mental health issues. I had to find ‘positive addictions’ — which I found through exercise. It’s been a massive part of my recovery.
‘If it wasn’t for WithYou and my partner, Vanessa who helped direct me to the right support, I wouldn’t be here today. Now I’ve come full circle as I am working full-time as a recovery worker in Grimsby; I’m able to give back and I understand the clients as I have lived experience. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never been in a good place before. It’s so supportive with such good staff. It’s my dream job – I absolutely love it.
‘I’ve found my love of training again as well as the gym and martial arts. I want to promote it, set up my own gym or group where I can promote sessions or boot camps. I just want to give other people that structure again – put their mind into other things.
‘It [exercise] releases endorphins, giving you confidence and self-esteem. It has a holistic effect on your wellbeing. Even if it’s getting out for a walk with nature – we have the beach here, you can do it. Exercise can benefit everybody.
‘Addiction took everything away from me. Not just material things but it took ‘me’ away. I have recovered my old self. That’s what I see recovery as – recovering yourself before addiction took over.’
Leah Briggs, Head of Service Delivery at WithYou in North East Lincolnshire, says: ‘Shaun is a core member of our Grimsby team and we’re so proud of what he’s achieved. He’s so passionate about recovery and goes over and above to give clients the very best chance of achieving their own dreams.
‘We’re so proud of the team here and encourage others to reach out to the WithYou service. We offer facts and options so you can make safer choices for yourself and support you to meet your goals in recovery, at your own pace. If you need a safe space to talk, we are with you. No judgement, no lectures, no nonsense. Just compassion and a friendly face.’
Shaun adds: ‘If clients want to listen to me, I will tell them my story. It shows them you’ve been there and you have that empathy with them – you get that connection. Please get in contact. Just engage – come through that door. It will change your life, it really will.’
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drugs in North East Lincolnshire contact call 01472 806890 or visit the website wearewithyou.org.uk for more information or to use our free, confidential webchat service.
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This content was created by WithYou