An Update From StoryTeller Iain Donald

iains-story-220x294“I regret to a certain degree ever getting involved with drugs, but involving myself with drugs and battling the chaos that goes along with that lifestyle has made me who I am. And I am really happy with who I am.”

I recently heard from Iain Donald, author of one of our Stories, This is Me. Iain, from Scotland, is coming up to four years drug-free.

In brief, his Story describes his addiction to heroin and crack cocaine, a period spent inside prison, time on methadone maintenance programmes, and support from a treatment service in Glasgow – amongst many other things. Most importantly, Ian met and fell in love with Nadene and her wonderful son William and they have settled down as a family – and had a new family member, Harvey. Iain works for the Scottish Association for Mental Health in one of their homeless units.

Iain recently added to a comment on his Story and we had some email communication. Iain pointed out that one thing from his life of addiction that had not been properly dealt with was a son from a previous relationship who he had not seen for 12 years, since Shaun was two years old. 

Recently, Iain met with Shaun and his mother and they talked for three hours. As Iain pointed out: ‘This was brilliant and scary at the same time and I’m sure it was a little nerve racking for Shaun as well.”

Anyway, this reunion got Iain thinking a lot and in his communication to me he said:

“Although I still agree with that comment I made [in his Story, see above – DC] that my addiction took me to where I am for which I am glad, the realisation of just what my addiction cost me also came to light over this weekend.

Nadene and I get married on April 21st 2014, Harvey has just turned one as I’ve said and my relationship with William, who is almost nine, is blossoming well. Now my long overdue relationship with Shaun can begin 12 years after it ended.

Dwelling on those lost years is non-productive – building from here is the only option.

This thing with Shaun was the only thing from my addictive past that had not been properly dealt with. Now that it is being mended, I’m a happy man.

Some say you “never recover”. Well I’m saying “I HAVE RECOVERED”.

I’ll finish with an excerpt from Iain’s Story:

‘I started a full-time one-year NQ in Social Care in August 2010. It was a bit scary at first, going back to studying after all these years, but I quickly started to feel quite comfortable and slipped into student life.

I made friends with several people who had previously experienced drug problems and we supported each other. In addition, the head lecturer was very supportive – he knew about my drug-using past, as I had made this clear when he interviewed me about joining the course.

We had a rolling assessment throughout the year, so I would get stressed at times as I had never previously had to meet targets in this way. Moreover, in the past I had always used drugs to help me deal with stress. Not any more! What helped me apart from my friends was, ironically, the fact that I was learning about stress management in the course I was doing! Overall, I really enjoyed the whole year of this course.

I stopped being on benefits at the beginning of my NQ, as I received a bursary from the college and a student loan. Breaking away from state support had a strong positive impact on me. Benefits were associated with my past drug use – they were always there when I was a user – so everything associated with them (e.g. having to sign on each week) was conditioned to my using and my using-state of mind. When I stopped using drugs, the only thing left of my past life was my benefits, so I really felt that I was starting a new chapter of my life when they stopped.

At this stage of my life, I felt that I wanted to work in the recovery field. I loved interacting with people and felt that I had a lot to give.

I finished the SEA programme in March 2011 and had now been drug-free for a year. On Graduation day, I felt very proud of myself and with what I had achieved. All my friends who knew what I had gone through were there at the Graduation Ceremony. A year earlier, I would never have talked to a room full of people. But now, I felt comfortable talking and thanking people.’