‘A Personal Story’ by Wee Willie Winkie

Here’s a story we first ran on our online community Wired In To Recovery in September 2010. I then posted it on Recovery Stories in June 2013.

‘I’m 33 years old. I started taking drugs from ten years old and, apart from a three and a half year stint in the army, took them continuously right up to the age of 30. This included 11 years as a heroin addict.

During this time, I felt totally isolated and alone in the world, and completely worthless. After a few years I was desperate. I’d overdosed a couple of times and, at this point in my life, I’d have welcomed death with open arms. It never came, so I decided to help it along a bit.

Luckily, it didn’t work but at the time I just didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I decided that this was my life and to try make the best of it I could. I ended up living in the woods for a year. I could never see myself living in shop doorways.

Being in the army gave me the tools I needed to survive, and so long as I had heroin I didn’t really care. This went on for a while, working to get gear and getting gear to go to work. Eventually, I got a place to stay and things were as stable as they get for an addict.

This went on for a couple of years. I’d tried to get clean but it never lasted long. I didn’t know where to get proper help. Then I got sent to jail on remand for five weeks. Funnily enough, it wasn’t drug-related.

This was my first time in prison and didn’t know what to expect, but once I was in I loved it. It was like a holiday. They put me on methadone and I just relaxed. I knew this was my chance and I was going to grasp it with both hands and wasn’t going to let go.

When it was time for me to leave, I was scared stiff. I told my solicitor I didn’t want to come out and would prefer a sentence, but he convinced me otherwise. Upon my release, I was put on probation, so I grasped everything they had to offer me in the way of courses.

I got my maths and English and IT qualifications (which I didn’t get at school), but after a while they wanted to sign me off because I was doing so well. I’d been free of drugs for six months. This scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know what to do.

I think I was the only person going to probation who actually enjoyed being there! On one of my last meetings, my DRR co-ordinator suggested I do some outreach groups from a place called New Beginnings. So I did that. Then Mary, the lady who ran the groups, suggested I go to New Beginnings on their s, d, p which I was a little apprehensive about. But I did it anyway.

That place really opened my eyes. I ended up living in the flats next door, and after I finished the s, d, p I started helping with their new clients. I got myself a place to live and steadily reduced on methadone until it was time to come off.

I was offered subutex and all sorts of sleeping tablets etc. but I refused. I wanted off drugs, not to take more. I got my head into a place where this was going to be easy and, to be honest, it was. I didn’t sit and feel sorry for myself, I just got on with it.

Now I’m happy to say I’ve been heroin free for three years and off methadone for one year. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I talk about recovery and my experiences to anyone who will listen in the hope in some way it will inspire them to change their lives.

I’m starting to help a friend run SMART recovery groups at one of our local services and we run a peer support group. My life started the day I got out of prison and I’ve never looked back.’

The photograph used in this blog post is by Mohamed Nohassi and has come from Unsplash, a great resource of free high resolution photographs.