Des

I work for the ADP. The work is essentially helping people in recovery get back into the normal working place and get their lives together and make a functioning effort towards society. And the course that I do is with the cooking involved where we can learn them traits in cooking and get them skills. Economic cooking and healthy cooking, a lot of people lose this ability, so we give them that traits back so that they can develop their skills and function better.

There are lots of services we can forward people on to.

Connection

I’m dealing more with people that are in recovery. They’re quite stable in recovery, but they’re just needing to get back into the general workspace and communicate better and meet up with people and get friends, rather than people that’s in dire need. I’m not qualified to help anybody in dire need, I would pass them on to services where they could get help from.

There’s fun and games, and it’s all a completely friendly atmosphere. There’s no talk about drugs or alcohol or anything like that when you come in. It’s just a completely neutral environment where we’ll be talking about cooking and walking, landscapes, mountaineering. We’ll be talking about things that have got nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, because you don’t want that on your mind all the time. I have been in that role for about two years now.

Active

I’m basically working five days a week to seven days a week, but my problem was the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, there’s very very little transport from where I am, so I would never attend anything. But I’m free five days a week. I go to conferences, meetings and stuff and I run courses on a Friday. If there’s anything that needs done, if there’s anything that comes up, I will attend it. So although I’m not maybe working all the time, I’m there to work all the time, whenever I’m needed, or attend. I don’t class it as working, I just class it as getting on with life, you know. Enjoying your future and what’s coming, because when there’s not much choice in this area, how it is for work and employment, so I’d rather keep active and keep doing things in the community and maybe encourage more things like this.

It keeps me active, it keeps me out of bother and keeps me on a straight and narrow path.

Recovery cafe

How did this start? I think it was a ‘Confidence to Cook’ course by Cair Scotland and I was attending that and then Diane, the leader of the Cair Scotland heard that there was a chance that you could do a recovery café – would I be interested in anything like that? And I says yeah, well I’ve been a chef, all we can do is give it a try and we’ll see. And I was told that I have to apply for funding, so I’d to go through the procedure of doing all these things and it worked. I got my funding and I got to start the group and yeah, great, that’s how it started. Diane was very good in the sector. She helps a lot of people – it’s good.

Isolation

Personally my hardships were: I ended up homeless and I got put into a village which had very little public transport. There was school buses in the morning and then school buses come back in the evening and maybe two buses in-between.

But the first bus in the morning can’t get you into work and the last bus taking you back won’t get you back from finishing work. So I was total isolation and the only thing there was one shop, on the corner shop, which seemed to have decided that alcohol was the best thing he could possibly sell in that shop. And they had a little freezer and then whole shelves of alcohol and cigarettes. It’s like well, they’re not giving you much choice.

So I was stuck out there, nobody to speak to, no transport, no communication – I’d no phone – and a pub right across the road and a shop.

And that’s all there was in that village, was one pub and one shop. Both of them sold alcohol. So the stresses and strains of living there were just immense. I never knew anybody. Everybody else that was going about was all but 75 or 80 years old – it’s an old village and old people. And there was no communication. If I never got to meet in the ADP or knew that there were any recovery services or anything like that, like I say, I don’t think I would have survived much longer, because it was just…. I was at my wits end, after being homeless for so long, there was just nothing to look forward to at all. I still live here. I don’t think it would be quite as bad, but because I’m out and about and I can do this, but failing that I get my licence back on this March sometime. It’s good that my licence comes back

Depression

I was very, very close to just doing away with myself, really. I’d had enough. I was homeless, the council had rehoused me in a place that had no transport and it was useless, and I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t get a job because of the bus times and I was just getting deeper and deeper into depression.

I really thought this was the end of my life, it’s not going to get much better.

I’ve managed to stop the substance abuse, but still it wasn’t as cheery as I thought it might have been. There was moments that I thought, what’s the point? There’s no point in this, it’s surely hell, really. I ended up going to the social worker and explaining how I was feeling bad and I’d been to the doctor. And that’s when I got put onto this to see Diane, and then a course and then to carry on from there. And if I didn’t do that I’m pretty sure I probably wouldn’t have been here today.

Normal again

I felt more like what I used to be when I was younger. And I was in the hotel and catering trade, so everybody was buzzing about, everybody had something to do. And your mind was always active on what was needed, what was planned for and you were just always kept going with something to do. This is what helps, this is what gets me back into feeling normal again. If I haven’t got nothing to do the mind ceases up. I can only read so many books before I get tired.

Sharing

It works best by everybody sharing their experiences, and one person will say what’s happening with them, you’ll get a response back and the more things we’ve got and similar that we find, well we did the same, but what I did, is this is how I used it. The information gets shared and passed on.

I don’t know, it seems to be like a circle on a roundabout in the drug scene and in alcohol scene – that the mind doesn’t seem to drift very far from within a certain circle. And it’s to get them to start thinking further out and further out, because you’ll just enclose yourself, and the only thing that’s important is a few friends and a drink, then all your drugs and that’s really it.

Readiness

When people that have made the active step, they’ve seen the error of their ways and are making steps into recovery, they are easier to talk to. They are wanting to listen to you and they are wanting to give things a try. However, what you’re on about it is how do you make them to make this first step, that’s really difficult. There’s no really an answer for that one. You’ve just got to work your way with them until you can find out what that answer is. But nobody will actually stop any substance abuse until they want to, no matter how kind you are, how evil you are, how desperate you are, how caring you are.

They won’t stop until they actually decide that they want to. And then it’s really easy.

Motivation

What drives me is the straight and narrow – the proper way of living, you know, the healthy way of living. Helping others. I care more about other people than I do about myself. I’ve never really cared much about myself, it’s always been other people that I care for. So, it seems natural to pass on my experiences and my information and how I can help them.

It’s no a great magic wonder wand or anything like that. There’s no one day that you wake up and you go ‘Wow, I’m normal again.’

It takes time and you don’t really realise it’s happening until you look back a few months and go, ‘well that’s quite a long time, and I’m doing this and I’m doing that, and I’m doing this’. Nothing has really changed – you don’t exactly feel this overwhelming relief of ‘I’ve done something’. It’s not until at least six months to a year passes that you can look back and you can be proud of what you’ve done.

Helping

That’s just naturally always there. I don’t think I go looking for it. If I see someone – even an old lady just trying to get a door, I’ll always jump forward and open the door for her. I’m just a normal natural person that likes to help people. I don’t know why; I think it’s normal to me.

When people care about me back…that’s beautiful, yeah that’s beautiful, you know. It’s embarrassing because you don’t really feel that you deserve it, but you know it’s wonderful.

Encouragement

In the past I’ve maybe broke loose and had some substance abuse and stuff, but I was never really nasty to anyone. The encouragement I get because I’ve stopped is good, I don’t really mind it, but at the same time I never think I really deserve it. I shouldn’t have been messing about in the first place, you know. The encouragement is good, in the sense of the achievements I’ve made, but not because of simply stopping it. I don’t really think you deserve any credit for that, because I shouldn’t have been taking it in the first place. And you’ll realise that yourself once you’ve come away from it that you should have got a round of applause for avoiding it, rather than for doing it and then stopping it, you know.

Withdrawal

I’m just relaying what you’ve done to yourself. How to respond to the others, you know, it’s like “this is how I did it” . It doesn’t start until you wake up one day and you say ‘look, that’s it, I’m really going to make a start at this.’ And the hardest thing then is – you want to stop – but then your body’s not wanting to stop. Your body’s still craving these substances – still take them to come off them, other than you totally told yourself that you’re not taking them anymore and that’s a real struggle and dilemma within yourself, that I want to stop – and I do seriously want to stop, but I can’t stop. I’ve had the shakes, or I’ve got the DTs (delirium tremens) or you’re being sick or whatever. Whatever drug you’re on, whatever ailment it causes, that holds you back. That’s when you need the strength in yourself and then strength from other people to let you know that this passes. The body pain passes. As long as you keep your mind strong, that will pass and before you know it the craving’s gone.

Keeping active

One of my biggest problems was my computer. The hard drive had frozen up on it, so I had a problem getting all these emails back and keeping up to date with stuff. Other than that it’s quite smooth flowing really. So we’ve all got the things that we have to do. Services that we go to, recovery meetings, info meetings. So you’re just constantly learning all the time. Meeting with people, getting more ideas. It just seems to be a constant drive that keeps you very active and keeps you hearing more and more what’s happening in the community and all the rest of it. I think it’s – I don’t see it as a stressful thing, I see it more as if it wasn’t there you would be looking for things to do. It’s really quite handy – it keeps you very, very active. And that’s what you need because you need to keep your mind from drifting, thinking things you shouldn’t be thinking.

You haven’t got time to think of the past, you’re focusing on the future now.

Carpooling

Well there was this fantastic thing with Diane. Because Diane’s funding also covers transport expenses and Diane stays in a village around 6 or 7 miles away from me, then whatever meeting that she was going to, I would be attending to. She didn’t mind coming round, picking me up and we’d both go at the meetings and attendance. It was car-pooling, it was sharing the expenses as well, so we didn’t have to get expenses for me and expenses for Diane. We just jumped in the car and one expense was paid. It was all about saving money and all that as well, which I’m very, very focussed on – saving money and the economy to eat and all this, so it was brilliant. The transport side of it is: any meetings we go to, nine times out of ten, Diane’s going as well and she’ll arrange to pick me up. It’s usually quarter past eight in the morning. It makes so much difference. I wouldn’t have managed to go to many of the meetings. I could possibly attend some meetings, but I would always have to leave early, because I wouldn’t manage to get back home again.

Funding

The only way things and services could be improved would possibly be funding. It would just be the economic side of things. And more people getting involved, the more people getting trained to pass this information on. We seem to have managed to have the skills to keep this ball rolling and it seems to be working. More people are coming into recovery than there has been before. There’s less drug abuse, less alcohol abuse, less substance abuses. Although alcohol up in this area hasn’t really changed much, but all the others substances – it is getting better.

The Future

I’m more positive about the future now, than before. I really needed somebody to love and somebody to love me, and that was about the only thing I needed left in my progress, to be back to normality again.