Peer Mentors provide positive role models and active support for those who are on their road to recovery. They are available to help individuals to consider their options and supporting them to achieve their goals.
I have conquered so much anxiety and many fears as a result of the continued support of this service, and Ive met some fantastic people along the way, I will be eternally grateful to C.R.I. for giving me this fantastic opportunity to give back and to further myself, I have grown far beyond my own expectations in such a short period of time, and i highly recommend this to anybody.
Its going to get harder before it gets easier, but it will get better, you just got to make it through the hard staff first
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future
Prior to CGL being in West Kent, I facilitated peer support groups in Tonbridge, where, as CRI became the West Kent Recovery Service, I was approached and asked to become a volunteer. I started as a volunteer with CRI in May 2012. Initially I was co-facilitating recovery focused workshops, progressing then to facilitating them. I then began to facilitate the Foundations of Growth program, and then I developed and facilitated the Recovery Maintenance program; a program of three consecutive workshops for those already abstinent but requiring additional support. By this time I was also managing a small caseload, so I was also now involved in doing one-to-one sessions with our service users.
In May 2013 a Recovery Worker vacancy became available and I was successful in my application here, and am now a full time recovery worker, both facilitating workshops and managing a growing caseload. I feel with this I have become an integral part of my team, and now I can focus on progressing in my role and contributing to our service, as I embark on my new found journey with CGL.
Like many before me, my story starts with honesty when I was around 11 years old, my parents would go out for the day mainly to work and I would get my friends around to raid the drinks cabinet, trying to make cocktails and experimenting with all the different spirits in there. We would challenge each other to drinking games and those that won got to finish the bottle. I was always able to hide it from my parents as I would normally be in bed by the time they came in. I became aware to a degree at that time that I loved alcohol. I continued to drink in secret away from my family, I used to steal bottles and cans of lager from the local shops then go off into the woods with friends and drink. By this time I found it hard to function without a drink and by this time my exams were coming up. By some miracle I passed all my exams with flying colours even though most of the time I was still drinking.
I finally left school at 16 years old and was very luckily to get a job in London working for the Ministry of Defence, my job was very high profile and dealt with design and procurement of military weapons and ground to air guidance systems. I had in my 10 years moved around to different department and was promoted twice to higher grade, unfortunaly with the work that I was doing came lunches out with different companies including evening out and also going away to test the equipment, most of the time this involved a lot of drinking so I was in my element, until that dreadful day came when I was arrested by Military Police for misuse of government property. I was of course charged and sent to prison on Sheppey. This was as I know now the longest period I went with a drink, I found it really hard as I had hide it from everyone I loved.
On release from prison I embarked on a new career move and went to university to study Mechanical Engineering, but as always found myself to become alcohol dependent, I would be out drinking every night, turning up to lectures and falling asleep. I finally finished my degree and again by some absolute miracle passed with a 2:1. By then my thirst for both knowledge and drink were at all time high and a then came back to live in Kent with my then wife. I worked for a number of different computer companies, building main frame computers for blue chip companies. I was still alcohol dependant which in the end led to the break up of my marriage.
I then embarked on a downward ark and had to move house, whilst doing this my knowledge was going even more and I studied again at university doing yet another couple of degree courses in Sports Science and Biomedical Science, unfortunaly again drinking became a large part of my life. But again with shear will power based both degrees with a 1st.
After this time I married again and brought a house, again is wasn’t long before my brain needed more knowledge and at that time I decided to study an Open University course in Forensic Psychology and Criminology it wasn’t long before my drinking became out of control, I had in some way managed to pass the course with a 1st
Then after the birth of my daughter, a few years later my wife left me and took my daughter with her. Things did not go well then as I tried to take my own life with drugs and drink, it was only that a neighbour found me in the garden and I was admitted to hospital and then sent to the funny farm for 8 weeks of inpatient treatment. I was still in complete denial about my drinking. After I was discharged I moved away to Essex in another relationship which lasted only a few months because of my drinking again. I was understandably kicked out, when I then embarked on my experience of being homeless. I walked for miles and miles until I finally came to the sea, where I stopped. I was in a mess by this time mentally and physically, I had stolen from shops to feed my drinking and was at an all time low with my weight as I would search bins and take away outlets for food, I also begged on the streets again to feed my habit. My lowest point of this was when I was stabbed and left for dead, when the attack happened I was unfornualty sexually assaulted, I tried to seek help from the hospital but turned away due to being drunk, I then myself treated my injuries and sowed up the wounds with cotton and a needle I managed to get from the hospital. This continued for a number of years in total until I was found by my sister who was on a day trip. She thankfully took me in and tried to help me out with a roof over my head.
My story doesn’t really end there, I became alcohol dependant again, hiding it from all those that loved me. I had been admitted to hospital a number of times over the last 3 years, due to seizures and a blood clot on the heart and lungs. My health was really in trouble and I was still fuelling it with drink. I was finally seen by the Mental health team who put me in contact with CGL, where I was then assessed and a plan of action was put in place to do a inpatient detox, I felt in myself that I was ready for this my life had become so bad with depression and PTSD that I needed to change.
Once again before my detox was to start I was admitted to hospital were after a stay of 4 days I was admitted to Bridge House for my detox. In the time I spent there I became very aware of the damage I had done to myself physically and to my family. It was time to change my thinking, whilst in Bridge House I meant someone who has since then become my rock, always helping me with support and encouragement, I can safely say if it wasn’t for them and also the continued support of CGL I would more than likely not be here.
I am now totally free of alcohol and am continuing doing this with support from my key worker and my new lifelong friend, plus my family who have now come to terms with my addiction.
I have embarked on a somewhat new interest and have started to help coach a local Sunday football team, I did when I first came back to live in Gravesend go and watch them play, this has given me a new lease of life and I am really enjoying feeling part of a team, there is of course the trips to the pub after games but have always been very good and I now just drink soda water and lime.
I feel know that I am a very lucky person who has been given a second chance in life and is taking it by the horns, please don’t get me wrong I still crave a drink sometimes but am being strong in mind as well as body.
Finally I was asked to be the Vice-Chairman of the Kent Service User Council which I am very humbled to say I have taken up and I am embarking on becoming a Peer Mentor for people that are going through addiction.
One last point, I know everybody has different circumstances and some find it harder than others but I am living proof that it can be done, but only if you wish it.
I hope that you have found my story interesting and am always willing to sit and talk about how I defeated my demon
The empathy and understanding that Peer Mentors have gained through their own experiences can help them gain the trust of Service User’s and encourage them to sustain their commitment to change, help breakdown barriers and to create a thriving Recovery Community.
Our Peer Mentor training programmes enable stable former Service User’s to gain opportunities for continuous personal development, growth and career pathways, along with support to sustain their on going recovery.