23 June 2016
Greetings and welcome to the butterfly blog. This blog is about my recovery journey from the early days to … at the Living Room Cardiff.
The back story
I am in my forties and have been abusing drugs and alcohol since I was a teenager to escape the pain of repeated trauma experiences during this time of my life. Over the last five years I have stopped using alcohol and class A drugs, but my main problem has been the extreme and prolonged use of skunk cannabis. Skunk is a very strong form of cannabis bred specifically for its high THC content the active ingredient in cannabis that gets you high. This I am truly addicted to. I have used cannabis daily for the last 20 years. For 12 of those years I managed to hold down a job, social life and long term relationship despite my daily use, but in 2007 my relationship broke down. Then in 2008 I experienced a mental health breakdown leading to a three month admission to a psychiatric hospital. The year after I lost my job due to extended periods of sickness due to mental health problems including my addiction to cannabis. The following eight years have been devoted to getting stoned from waking up till going to bed. It has been a 24/7 occupation. I was either getting stoned, stoned or sleeping it off. I estimate that I have spent in the region of £25,000 over the last eight years on skunk. So the addiction has cost me dearly: my relationship, my career, my financial security, my social life and my physical health and sanity. I gave up everything I held dear for the addiction, including my morals. It’s fair to say that skunk has totally ruled and ruined my world for a very long time.
Living Room Cardiff
I heard about the Living Room from my GP who had been encouraging me to seek help for my addiction for a long time. For many years the denial was so great that I didn’t see the true extent of my problem, which now looking back seems like madness. At first I found it hard to fully engage. I had weekly 1:1 sessions with a lovely counsellor but I didn’t always turn up for them. I wouldn’t attend group therapy at first because I felt so anxious in group situations. So this is how I went for the first 19 months, dipping my toe into the recovery world. I managed to cut down my consumption during this time from nearly £700 a month to around £280. A real achievement for me. Then almost a month ago I hit my rock bottom and stopped completely.
My rock bottom was prompted by a true realisation of what I was doing to my mum in order to maintain my addiction. Unbeknown to her I had been spending the money she had been giving me to pay my mortgage on skunk. I had felt terrible about this for a long time but the addiction was so strong that I hadn’t been able to stop myself behaving in this way. It wasn’t until my mum became the victim of a mail order draw scam that it truly hit home. I hated the scammers for doing this to my mum and I felt enraged at the company responsible, but then I had the realisation that what I had been doing was just the same, that I had also been scamming her all along. This lead to me feeling very suicidal to the point where I was planning my method. Suicidal thoughts and feeling are not new to me I have had to cope with them since the age of 13. The thing that had always kept me alive was the thought of what my suicide would do to family and friends, especially my mum. But now I didn’t care, I believed they’d be better off without me. I shared this with my brilliant peer support worker, others at the Living Room and my GP who all supported me brilliantly. I felt it was stop using or die time, so that’s what I did I stopped. I ceased to use skunk from the 19th May 2016 (bar three short lived slips).
I have been invited to write a blog for the Living Room about my recovery journey. Each week I’ll update the blog to keep you all update on this voyage into the unknown. So welcome aboard my recovery bus. I hope you’ll find riding alongside me interesting and maybe even useful.