Stories of lived experience: Kamil’s story

Phoenix Futures is sharing stories of lived experience of some of the people who have accessed its residential services. This is Kamil’s story.

Every person that we support has their own unique experiences, stories and insights that shared help to inspire, educate and enable better support for others in need of help. Following on from the launch of our Making Rehab Work report, we are sharing the lived experience of some of the people that have accessed our residential services to reinforce the need for equality of access to residential treatment across the country. We thank Kamil for sharing his story and for his honesty and openness about his experiences.

Kamil’s Story

I was born in the Czech Republic, my parents are both from Slovakia but moved there before I was born. Growing up was hard, we were poor, and I experienced a lot of racism. When I was 13, we moved to Derby in the UK. The first few years were nice, I was going to school to learn English and was happy.

By the time I was 16, I had started hanging around with some older boys, smoking weed. I had left school and went to work in a shampoo factory which meant that I had more money to spend on going out and smoking weed. When I was about 18, I went back to the Czech Republic for two months to see a girl, she introduced me to heroin for the first time.

When I came home, I met a new crowd of people who were injecting heroin and I started to do the same. I thought I could handle it, I thought I was invincible. I went on holiday to Slovakia with my dad, so I stopped using, I started to get sick, now I realise that I was withdrawing from heroin but I didn’t understand at the time that I had become dependent.

I carried on using for years. I stole and shoplifted to buy drugs. I met a girl, we had two kids. My daughter was three when my son was born, we had been living with my parents but moved out into our own flat to get some more space. My son became unwell and ended up in hospital for a few months.

My girlfriend wasn’t happy about me using drugs, she kept threatening to leave me. I stopped using heroin when I got a prescription for Subutex, but it wasn’t long until I started using other drugs instead.

Things got worse when I started using Mcat, I was hearing voices and getting paranoid. I thought there were other men in the house and my girlfriend was cheating on me. It wasn’t long before she packed up one night with the kids and left. I was devastated, feeling like I didn’t have anything left to live for so I used more and more. I became homeless and was sleeping rough. Living on the street was hard, but I didn’t know how I was going to make things better.

In 2017 I got a place in a hostel, I made friends with a guy who was a cleaner. I used to help him clean and we would talk, he told me that I needed to go to rehab and do a proper detox where I stopped taking everything, even the Subutex. By that time, I was desperate, so I was willing to give anything a go.

Doing the detox was tough and painful. I went straight from there to rehab in The Wirral. as soon as I arrived, I wanted to leave, I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to stay. I spent months telling everyone I was going home, and I probably would have done, but because I had a problem with my benefits, I didn’t have the money to leave, so I stayed. I got support for my mental health whilst I was in treatment, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and have been taking medication since which has helped.

As my graduation got closer, I realised that I didn’t want to leave at all and was desperate to stay. I stayed for seven months in total. When I left the residential, I went into Phoenix supported housing, which was two and a half years ago, and I am still living in Phoenix housing now. Since I left treatment, I have been back to college, passed my driving test and have rebuilt relationships with my family. I volunteer at the residential, supporting people that are just starting their recovery journeys. I want to be an inspiration to them and show them that recovery is possible. I have an amazing life; I know that I will never go back to using drugs again and I am really looking forward to the future.

Read the full blog post here.

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We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

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