Paul is 44 years old and has been in contact with services of one type or another since leaving school, including probation, the courts, detention centres and prison. Paul entered drug services when he was 20. He was put on methadone by a doctor and maintained on a daily dose of around 110mls for 24 years, with regular reviews.
Paul had used cannabis, LSD, gas, speed, heroin, crack cocaine, diazepam for as long as he could remember and been imprisoned for petty offences. Then, he was arrested for a serious crime and was given a drugs test in custody, testing positive for numerous drugs. A drug worker at the police station told Paul about the possibilities of getting a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR). Paul started the DRR and was required to attend CRI regularly.
"After a year or so I had decided that I had had enough of being in the madness of my drug use. With the help and understanding of having a regular key worker, instead of seeing a different key worker each time, we sat down and came up with a realistic reduction plan. Once I got stable, and was giving regular clean urine samples, I was asked if I wanted to get involved with the service user group, which I did. I am still involved today, but not just attending the meetings. I am now responsible for actually chairing the meetings and putting the agenda together and the responsibility and trust put in me by staff members has had a real effect on my own personal recovery.
"I also went on the Graduate Programme and I got a lot out of the course. I met some really good peers along the way and we are all still close today, supporting one another regularly.
"I was given lots of courses and training but most of all a purpose, from the people around me and the support given to me by CRI, and am full of gratitude for all their faith in me. Even more so since I have been a Service User Rep and been put on the rota to manage the front desk as a first point of contact for service users coming through the door. Hopefully it might give people who know me, and know what I used to be like, a belief that they could do the same, but more. We always let them know that we are here to support everyone that walks through that door.
"I feel great since I completed my detox programme with the help of Lofexidine but, more than anything else, with the help from my peers and everyone at the project. I feel that this has all been part of a massive journey for me and one that I have embraced. I now facilitate the SMART recovery groups here. I am at a stage of my life where I will only get stronger and stronger - and long may it continue."
* Photo has been changed to protect the identity of the service users who shared their stories with us.