• "I used to have months where I wouldn't take anything, but those days would be awful"

The storyteller talks about his frustration with drug and mental health services and how things changed for him when he saw a GP who had experience and was actually able to help. He talks about the need for GPs to be better trained in addiction services.

OK, Uh, I started to access, uh, support for my mental health in 2015. Uh, this was after I'd had a period of Well, it was about a weekend where I was taking a lot of substances at once. Um, had a really bad comedown, which lasted for about two or three months afterwards. Didn't realise what was going on because I was with my friends at the time and they seemed to bounce back

Uh, and then I lost a tonne of weight, and then I thought, right, I need to go to the GP for this because I don't know what's going on. Um, And then when I went there, he advised me that because of the substances I'd been taking, I'd I think I'd done some, uh, affected, like the chemicals in my brain. So I took antidepressants and for a few weeks, and I think that was the moment where I thought I I like I definitely did some damage to my brain, and I really need to keep that in check because I could definitely do that again, which was the case in the future

But it wasn't for a little while. afterwards, I was taking, um, some, like party drugs, like a Coke and MG MA on nights out. But it really wasn't that much you would be on, like on the weekends, and I was able to control it to a degree

Uh, And then when I realised that there was other drugs that I could try, I started to try different things now. Different things. Then, uh, then my use started to escalate over the last two years

I think after about I think after about three or four months, I was on a daily habit. I used to try and have days where I wouldn't take anything. But those days would be awful

And I'd be withdrawing. So I thought, What's the point? I might as well just carry on taking them because I didn't want to feel bad. Um, so that lasted for over about two years, and by the end of it, I was having multiple overdoses

My partner would come home and find me, uh, not in a good way. And they need to find my mom. And then I would lie to my mum then and say that I was trying to get support or if I was trying to help myself

But it wasn't the case because I didn't want to change at that moment because I didn't think there was any point doing it. I thought because I I've been taking things for for so long. I didn't really remember who I was before, so I felt that it was the only way to get by because I used drugs to control my emotions

Really, I chose them to be productive in the morning, to go to bed, to be social. Um, I think everything I everything I did, I just wanted to control everything. Uh, but then it did get to a point where I overdosed maybe two or three times in one week

And that's when my mom thought, right. You need to come home with me. We need to look after you

I didn't really know what look after really meant it was just a case of me going home, withdrawing for a week, coming off it and then going back home, uh, my, uh, my home in Cardiff. And then I probably do, and I did the same thing over again, and then my mom would have to take me home. But then that time they took some time off work

So I stayed home for I think about a month, I think withdrawing. Um And then I overdosed again another time. And then that that when my mom said then that we need to go to A&E, you need to We need to do something because you're not sorting yourself out yourself, which I did agree with

I wasn't happy about it, but I did. And then when I went to A&E, it was the day after my overdose. And then we when we spoke to a doctor there, he said that they couldn't help us at all because they would have sorted out the, um, the overdose if I'd come in the day before

But they said because I hadn't overdosed at that moment, that there was nothing they could do. So of course, my mum was saying that I was at risk. I was vulnerable

I couldn't be left alone. I think what she wanted was she wanted me to be admitted to an acute ward. I think just my own safety because I couldn't maintain or guarantee safety myself

But that didn't happen so it was then the case of me going home, Mum and Dad taking time off work to sort of like taking in shifts really to look after me. They were watching my every move all the time, which was a horrible feeling. But I guess that's what they felt was necessary to help me, Um, to help me stay off the drugs

Really? Um, so it was that at that moment, then my mom accessed. Well, I didn't want to do it, but my mom she rang my GP on behalf of me and got a GP appointment. Uh, fortunately enough, the doctor who I met I'd never met her before, But she'd had experience in CAU

She also knew about, uh, recovery as well. And she also knew about the footsteps to recovery programme, which I was I. I never I've never heard of the recovery Camry or footsteps to recovery programme, But, um, I remember thinking at the time that if she didn't know what to do in that moment, I probably wouldn't have bothered in trying to find out

Like I hear a lot of people accessing services and their stories sound so bad that they just they've been keep continuously asking for support, but they don't get it. And I just think that in that moment I was so down and so vulnerable If they said, Oh, no, we can't help you. I probably would have accepted it and been like, OK, OK, I'll just carry on using my using my substances again because no one's going to help me anyway

But that wasn't the case. It was the first instance straight in there, and she referred me. And then I started to go through, um, then and subsequently, um uh, What happened after that? Do you still have a good rapport with your mom? Is she still support like she sounded quite supportive? Yeah, yeah, No, she was

She was just so terrified for so many years. I think it's only recently has got to the point where she stopped, um, ringing me every day because it was still the case up until about a month ago, I think, because she was still worried about me, even though I've been sober now for over a year, I think it's taken a long time for the trust to come back again. And each time the trust is broken down

It takes up a little bit longer. I feel for it to get back again. Um but that Yeah, that was That was it

And then I started the footsteps to recovery programme. After that, um, I took some time off work, but the the residential community course, it was about seven or eight weeks. I think he gave me purpose

He gave me routine, something to get up to get up for in the morning. Um, also meeting people as well because I've never met anyone with any addictions before. And I remember my first day

I was so scared about going there. But by the end of it, it was sad because we developed such a connection, all of us together, uh, And then I started to go to RC. Then when the footsteps to recovery programme stopped because I still knew people there

But honestly, I think I was just so grateful that my GP actually had the knowledge and and was clued up basically on on what services are out there because I don't think that's the case for a lot of people. Do you still keep in touch with the people that you met I. I saw one yesterday, actually in, um, in, uh, Saint Andrews

It was really good to see him because I haven't seen him in so long and you always wonder like how they're getting on, but it was really good to see him..

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