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

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Neal Keel­ing

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.

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