Sept 2002

I've tried to come off heroin 4 times

Peter aged 27 shares his views.

I first heard about the T.H.O.M.A.S. Project through my mum who subscribes to the magazine Edges. I have read it regularly over the years. I became more and more intrigued by the project and eventually made the break and got in touch with them. I received a referral form and sent that back. I didn’t think I’d hear anything for quite a while but within a few days I’d heard back from T.H.O.M.A.S.. I decided that it was definitely the right thing to do even though I didn’t know what it entailed but I knew my motives were there. I had the right state of mind.

I have been here now for fourteen days and I have got over my rattle. I was surprised to find out that it was actually in Blackburn, having lived down near London. I was willing to travel the distance just to get out of the social circles I was in at home. This is my fourth attempt at getting off heroin.

I live in Hemel Hemstead which is in Hertfordshire, just north of London. I grew up there but I haven’t lived there all my life. That’s where I got introduced to the drug. I had a really good network of social friends. We’d all been involved in drugs in one way or another. I tend to fit in with these people. These were people I trusted and liked so it wasn’t any sort of back street thing. It seemed like a safe environment really, after pills and ketamine at nightclubs and things like that. I went off travelling to Australia. I was doing bits and bobs of heroin around there. It had started eating into me a bit without me realising it.

Towards the end of that year in Australia a good friend of mine had actually died. I came back to England for his funeral. Whether his death was drug related or not nobody really knows. By that time heroin had really taken over in Hemel and I just slotted in. I’m not weak willed but I’m easily led. I did trust the people I was with, they were good people just gone a bit wrong. I still do trust them to a degree. I was pretty down with my life and at that time heroin definitely filled a gap for me which slowly took over. Through that time I continued to work. I hadn’t started stealing for the money or anything like that. I held down various jobs through my addiction but soon my usage was an everyday occurrence. It became a need. It was filling gaps for me but not in the right areas. I just slowly escalated deeper into that.

I then started to want back some of the life I’d had before I got into that junk. I remember the first big shock I got was when I tried to give it up. I realised there was a lot more to this drug than meets the eye. I’ve repeated the quitting/relapsing cycle for the last two years. I now know that I need help and can’t do it on my own. Hopefully, by the end of this twelve weeks I’ll at least have some better understanding of how I’m working and some positive direction. I first started travelling when I was eighteen years old. My mum basically had had enough of the way I was going. I was smoking and selling cannabis everyday for about two years, grown long hair and hadn’t really done anything at all. She gave me an ultimatum. She said that I could either get a place of my own and live that way or I could go travelling and do it. She gave me the money for a flight out to Tenerife where I had a friend. I took my giro cheque and went out there. I had a shock when I got out there because I had to stand on my own two feet. I didn’t really bother looking for a job but someone walked out of one while I was sat in this bar and they offered me a job. As the months went by I got more and more settled and started to get more and more out of it. I was using drugs all through that time and started to get introduced to cocaine, pills and the party scene which I took to like a duck to water. It was a good time in my life and I spent about four years out in Tenerife.

I went through a hell of a lot of changes while I was out there. One of the biggest ones was while I was in hospital. I got pancreitis when I was twenty-two from excessive use of coke and drinking and could have died. After that I realised that I had a bit of an opportunity out there. Instead of wasting all my money on drugs I decided to try saving it. That’s when I started to save up for Australia and China. So, with my girlfriend, we spent sixteen months saving up. At that time I got into surfing and sport to keep myself occupied. We did it and actually executed the plan. We had saved up quite a lot of money and bought our tickets. Before the big travel we went back home for six weeks which is where I first met heroin. After we got all our visas at the Chinese embassy off we went. It was the best feeling in the world. We were sat there in the plane with the idea we’d dreamt and were actually doing it.

We were out in China for about a month. We went to Beijing, saw the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. We mingled in the streets and met loads of Westerners and Chinese. There were loads of really inspiring people. We went round the Buddhist temples. It was really clean living with no drugs at all because we couldn’t get any and we were doing really positive things.

From there we headed out to Melbourne. We started off in hostels. Our big plan was to get a camper van and drive around the whole continent with a year to do it. It took us about three weeks to get this van and we headed off to the west cost towards Perth via Adelaide. From Perth to Darwin, back to Adelaide, Melbourne and over to Sidney. We then got to a hippy town called Byrom Bay where we surfed and smoked dope. We settled down there for the remainder of it.

I then got the news about my friend who’d died and that’s when I travelled back to England. Things changed for me then and I got into heroin. I came back to England when I was twenty-three or so. For some reason I was quite down and depressed at that time and so the drug moved in. I know I can save and execute plans; that’s what I want to get back to.

I’m now trying to view gear like one of the countries I have travelled to. I’ve seen the sights, got the photos and it’s time to move on. Time will tell but I know I’m willing to move on. The time is right and I want to better myself and life.

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