I challenge the stigma around addiction and mental health
By: Thomas Delaney (UK)
Hello, I’m a former Drug Addict. Today as I type this, I am just over 3 Years Clean & Sober. Although it was drugs that almost killed me, it wasn’t drugs that were the problem. Isn’t that an interesting paradox?
My compulsion to use drugs was a way of self-medicating; an uneducated choice I took in an attempt to try and numb the pain and trauma I suffered throughout my life. Although growing up despising drugs and alcohol, I rapidly saw myself turn into an addict, using a variety of drugs such as alcohol, MDMA, acid, and ecstasy. I became an expert in the use of cocaine & in particular, ketamine. Ketamine was my main drug of choice for the best part of 12 years.
In the beginning, taking drugs was exciting, it sparked a feeling of connection with the people I used with, something I lacked with my parents, in particular my distant father. I don’t wish to glorify or promote any type of negative behaviour but initially, drugs offered me a form of escapism and an extremely pleasurable experience filled with euphoric emotions that I never wanted to end. I guess like most addicts would tell you, at first, I only took drugs socially and to a certain degree without harm or, so I thought anyway. However, like every Honeymoon period, it would soon inevitably come to an end.
I hit rock bottom when I accepted redundancy from a much-loved career in 2018. I worked as a Business Development Executive; I was what you would call a “highly functioning addict”. My career allowed me to hold my head up high, it gave me a sense of pride, belonging and accomplishment. At least mostly during working hours. I had developed an addictive ubiquitous disposition; I wasn’t just addicted to Ketamine – I was also completely addicted to my career.
I sought nothing but utter self-destruction, I could only see two ways out of this dreaded situation. The first one, taking my own life. Secondly, seeking Rehabilitation Treatment. After speaking to my local GP during an appointment regarding my health, I asked him for help with my addiction, he told me to “Google it”, yes that’s right – “Google It”. To this day I don’t know if his remark was sarcastic, patronising or lacked understanding, however, regardless of how he meant it, I needed to hear it, because as soon as I left the appointment I went straight onto my mobile phone and googled – ‘services for addictions’.
Since leaving treatment in February 2020, I talk to young people across the UK from Schools, Colleges & Universities. Having vital conversations and providing education on the serious dangers of Trauma, ACE’s & Addiction. I believe in building the capacity for self-empowerment for the next generation with hope, knowledge and inspiration. My aim has always been to challenge the STIGMA that surrounds Addiction & Mental Health, as this is paramount if you truly want to beat addiction.