My twenty-five years of active addiction was at first slow and progressive. It crept up on me like a sneaky young petulant child seeking the approval of others, wanting to be liked, scared of rejection and ultimately unaccepting of itself.
I started sniffing solvents at about eleven years old then soon found a bottle of vodka inside my mother’s cupboard. Soon after came cannabis followed by slightly heavier mind-altering substances such as LSD, Amphetamines and Ecstasy. The explosion of the acid house scene in the UK found me dancing in fields all night fueled by this exciting new drug. When I wasn’t doing drugs, I was obsessing about them compulsively. Acting out on my compulsive thoughts ultimately led me to lose my family, dignity and respect. I went from flying around the world as a DJ to delivering drugs for an East London drug gang to pay for my heroin and crack cocaine habit.
Through my love of music, I moved to London and became a professional DJ. At this stage in my life I’d already developed a taste for cocaine and was soon taking it almost daily, I was in my early twenty’s.
My DJ career took off in conjunction with my spiraling cocaine and alcohol use. People threw substances at me when I performed along with lashings of alcohol, applause and other ego boosting material (usually sex). My career was the perfect one to enable me to believe my bullsh*t. I thought that my behavior was normal, healthy DJ behavior, I wasn’t an addict! In my mind, an addict was a street person injecting heroin or a street girl selling her body for crack. I was neither and never would do these things or so I kept telling myself.
I started producing music, flying around the world doing DJ gigs and earning good money. But I was falling further into my deadly addiction. I was blinded by the lights, blinded by myself. And however far I flew around the world I could never fly away from myself, my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior followed me wherever I went. It was slowly killing my soul.
I was still somehow holding my shit together during this stage, when heroin entered into the equation the game changed. Isolation and withdrawal from my friends suddenly made perfect sense. Whenever I’d start to think that I was getting addicted, I’d deleted the dealer’s numbers followed by a few days of mild cold turkey. After a few weeks or a month of not using heroin I’d then find a homeless person, buy them a bag and get another dealers number thus repeating the cycle. The cold turkeys became progressively worst and my time not using became less and less. I would get booked for overseas gigs and would be forced to take enough heroin so that I didn’t get sick. I got mugged at knifepoint in Barcelona, ripped off in Harlem, almost caught at customs whilst traveling to Switzerland and many other dark events that were a direct consequence of my using but still I couldn’t stop. I knew I had a problem but still did not view myself as an addict.
I got into a serious relationship and thought that this could cure me. On the outside my life looked good but on the inside, I was a broken soul living on borrowed time. Within about a year of living with the girl of my dreams I was a daily user of heroin and crack cocaine. I wish I could say that my life fell apart at this stage because it may have save me and other people that I loved from a lot of pain, but this wouldn’t be my truth. I continued to hold things together with lies, manipulation and sheer determination to keep up a façade of normality. In effect, I was living a double life and it was exhausting. I wanted to change but had no idea now. I’d never heard of recovery, I didn’t know such a thing existed.
I met a doctor and would pay him £100 each month in exchange for a month’s supply of methadone. This would be how I could get clean I thought, but all that happened was that I used it on top of the heroin.
I was now in a long-term relationship and using heroin and crack every day without my partner knowing. This went on for about 7 years until one day she walked in on me smoking heroin in our home. My world came crashing down. It’s the day I lost everything but also the day I was to make the first small steps into recovery. The date was 14 Feb 2014. She kicked me out of our home and I found a drug agency whom I started to engage with. I started attending various groups and fellowship meetings (for me this was NA). After about 6 months I managed to get into a residential detox unit and got clean. It was extremely challenging but somehow, I found enough faith to get me through the dark days. When I left it was the first time in my adult life that I was completely clean from all substances. It felt scary and overwhelming. I felt like being naked baby exposed and vulnerable to the world with no protection.
After detoxing I attended a 12-week rehab program after which I went onto a mentor course to help others stuck in addiction. During this time, I was regularly attending fellowship meetings and staying away from old haunts and other users. But suddenly one day alone with my thoughts I found myself using once more. In a matter of days, I went from being clean with a new life in front of me and helping others to being a full time manipulating drug addict. To make matters worse I’d lost most of my DJ gigs so ended up driving for a drugs gang in East London to pay for my habit. It was the worst feeling in the world after having a taste of recovery and knowing it was possible. I felt powerless over myself and the wicked addiction that now had the better of me once more.
I was going deeper into oblivion, a rabbit caught in headlights unable to move. I hated myself and wanted to die. I could see no way out, I’d had my chance and wasted it or so I thought. I didn’t care about the consequences of what I was doing and couldn’t bear the thought of being sick each day so carried on in the madness. I tried to cold turkey alone but couldn’t even get to ten hours before I’d score and carry on the cycle of sadness once again.
I wanted to die, the darkness was consuming my soul. I remember being sat in a crack house surrounded by lost souls like myself and thinking that this was it, this was my life, ended before I had a chance to grow old.
Then something miraculous happened. The company that I was doing mentoring for, ‘Phoenix Futures’ phoned me and said that because they believed in me that they had found me a place in a residential rehab which they would fund. I broke down and cried.
I went into the rehab on 7th Dec 2015 and stayed until July 2016. It was exactly what I needed. The intensity of the rehab and tackling issues that I’d not looked at before helped me to see what went wrong the last time. I was so grateful for being there that I did everything suggested and gave it my all.
I left the rehab and moved into supported housing also run by Phoenix futures. This time I made sure that I did things differently. I now realize that for me to have long term recovery I need a good balance in my life. For me today this means doing plenty of fitness such as the gym, circuits classes, yoga, boxing training etc as well as regular fellowship meetings and I speak with someone in recovery each day. But I also need friends who are not in recovery as well as a healthy work life which is now slowly improving. I do a few DJ gigs each month and my writing is taking off. I’m writing a book about my experience, half fact, half fiction which is being published next year (and some chapters are now online).
I’ve applied to do a Masters course at university and recently gave a lecture to 3rd year criminology students on addiction and recovery. If I stay clean the future is there for me. I must remember to stay grateful each day and live in the present one day at a time. Today I am almost 18 months clean and sober.
Author Young Sung Hero is a writer based in the cities of Sheffield and London England. He’s worked as an editor for Ecentral magazine in London as well as writing freelance pieces for an array of magazines such as Mixmag, B magazine, Ministry magazine, Now and Then magazine. He’s also contributed to many different websites such as Hear No Evil, Transformation is real, The Fix, The Sobriety Collective, The Recovery Revolution, Sondry and many others.