Sam helped me break free of drugs
Former drug dealer and addict David was on a downward spiral until he got help from a person who believed in him
ASINGLE bad decision set David’s life on a downward spiral. group of friends decided to ‘tax’ a cannabis dealer of his crop, and he went with them.
But the target got assaulted – and David and his friends were prosecuted.
He got a short custodial sentence, going in to young offenders as a bit of a tearaway, but criminally naive.
He emerged with an education in serious crime.
“I was encouraged to sell heroin. It was crazy. I was 18 and had a shoebox with £18,000 under my bed. I thought I was untouchable.”
Then he made another, catastrophic miscalculation.
“I thought I’d give what I was selling a go,” he said. “I believed I’d be the exception, the one that could use the drug successfully. How wrong was I.”
He quickly became dependent.
“It was a struggle, but I managed to quit in my 20s and I met a girl and settled down,” said David.
But as the relationship with his girlfriend ended badly, he started using heroin again to help him cope.
His life spiralled into chaos.
Home for David was sometimes an archway under a railway bridge near Asda in Ashton – other times an alleyway between Iceland and Olivers in the town. There, he rigged up a tarpaulin to try to stay warm and dry.
He turned to theft to feed his habit, and lost everything – including his teeth – to the addiction.
He attempted suicide, before being sectioned and diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder.
He said: “I ended up in a secure wing, but had taken a load of drugs in with me and ended up getting all the patients high. So understandably they threw me out.
“I wasn’t well. I couldn’t cope, couldn’t fill in forms, couldn’t deal with money and lost my tenancy. I sofa-surfed until I outstayed my welcome, then I lived on the streets.
“All I was bothered about was the next fix. But the drugs didn’t get me high, they just gave me relief from the craving and made me numb.”
He ended up being banned from every shop in Ashton as he shoplifted every day to pay for heroin and crack cocaine.
David was released from custody on a postsentence supervision order in June 2017, after serving a custodial sentence for shoplifting.
Having had 23 stints in jail – not counting periods on remand – the odds were that he’d soon be back behind bars.
But this time he found a way out, and has now been clean of drugs since October last year. He will successfully complete his prison licence next month.
The key to escaping the grip of drugs was meeting someone who believed in him. That person was Sam Bradshaw, a probation case manager for the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company.
David said: “In the past I’ve struggled with probation. I felt it was just people trying to keep the system going. But she believed in me – she was the only person who believed in me. That felt refreshing.
“I respected her. She found me digs, she put in effort. Sam wasn’t paying lip service. I could see it in her. She really cared.”
In June, 2017, David first reported to Sam at probation and overheard someone describe him as a ‘dead leg’.
He said: “I’d been written off before I’d even started. I’m stubborn. I thought ‘I’ll do this order to prove them wrong because Sam deserves this one’. That might sound odd, but I mean it.” Sam gave David clothes and made a succession of phone calls to find him accommodation. After a month, she secured him a bed at accommodation normally reserved for military veterans, but they were happy to take David on account of his PTSD diagnosis and their expertise in this area.
It takes two hours for David to take public transport to each probation meeting, but so far he hasn’t missed any.
Sam said: “He has been absolutely phenomenal. He has never let me down.”
She has also enrolled David with a GP and dentist, and arranged a mental health referral.
She added: “I saw David as a person. I didn’t disregard him because of his lifestyle and appearance at the time.
“David was really depressed when we first met.
“I was straight, and told him he had to want to change, that I couldn’t do it for him, and what the repercussions would be if he didn’t. However, I could see he was really trying, and so I was more than happy to spend that extra time with him to support him and to understand his feelings. At the end of the day, we are all people – we are all the same.
“And now the transformation in him is stunning.
“He is looking well, he’s got new teeth, and he’s been clean for almost half a year.”
David and Sam Bradshaw, the probation officer who believed in him.