At 15, I was asked to leave my family home. The prospect of homelessness made me really anxious and life was very hectic during that time. It scared me a lot, it really did. I was used to having my mum do my dishes or my washing, and I had little chores around the house. Going from that to complete freedom was a massive change. Suddenly, I was able to do whatever I wanted..
I ended up being homeless for six years. I slept where I could – on the streets, sleeping in the woods and sofa surfing.
Back then, I was known as the life and soul of the party. I would sleep over at four-day parties, taking whatever drugs I could get my hands on, in a room full of people that I had never met before. There were times when I was in a scary situation and I thought, what I have done this time? Sometimes I owed money to drug dealers; imagine a 16-year-ago experiencing that. It definitely made me grow up quicker.
I eventually became paranoid from smoking too much cannabis, so I began smoking heroin because it got me high without feeling paranoid. Around that time I went to meet my real dad for only the second time in my life. I hadn’t seen him in years so I didn’t tell him I was coming. When I got there, I found him injecting heroin. I ended up injecting it myself for the first time with my dad and returned home with the assumption that I could inject here and there, and that I had control.
From then, heroin took me away from the world. When I took heroin, I didn’t care that I had nothing and it felt nice – like a safety blanket. So when I then began taking a mixture of crack and heroin, I felt unstoppable. I always had a smile on my face, as long as I’d had a hit beforehand.
I’m not a bad person, but after a while I started doing things that made me question my own judgement. I was thinking and saying things that I said I would never, ever do. All my morals went out the window as soon as the harder drugs came into the picture.
My ex-girlfriend and her family eventually persuaded me to get help and after eight weeks in rehab I was offered a place at Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire. It was intense at first, but my mum and stepdad came to visit me and it was the first time in years that we were able to begin building a relationship. That makes me feel fantastic.
This is now the longest time that I’ve been sober, but I know the battle isn’t over just yet. Heroin isn’t in my veins, but I still think about it. I need to learn how to be happy without drugs, and I do feel like I’m getting happier every day.
Emmaus has given me the opportunity to get up and go. I help with collecting and delivering furniture for the shop and making food for the other companions I live with – I’m not bothered what it is, as long as I’m busy. At Emmaus, you do your bit and pull your weight, but you also get your freedom – the balance is just right and it’s rewarding. Here, I’m with people from all different situations who have all had different experiences and it’s useful to talk to them. They often have some of the answers you are looking for when others don’t and it helps you to build a fellowship of sorts.
I plan to stay at Emmaus until I know that I won’t use drugs again. I used to spend any money that I made on drugs, but now I plan to get a job so that I can save up for a deposit on a flat and travel to India. This is something I’d planned to do before I started using drugs.
There is simply no other charity that does the work that Emmaus does. It’s helped to change my life completely and I wouldn’t be where I am now without a place like this.