Mark came to Horton’s Spring Street accommodation in Kirklees in September 2023. He had a drug addiction and became homeless as a result. Through his stay at Spring Street and connecting with local drug support organisations and charities, Mark worked on moving away from his addiction and is now in recovery.

This is his story.

My life became really bad and unimaginable when I started taking crack cocaine around four years ago. My addiction was continuous and was a problem. My mum and dad had passed away when I was 24. I was being dishonest, not completing jobs for work, and stealing from others. Before then I had not taken any drugs at all – I had a good life. I had a job as a joiner, I was a champion boxer, and I had good friends and a young family.   

I lost my job because of my drug addiction and I fell out with my mates. I hid my addiction from my partner. When she found out about it our relationship broke down. Social services got involved and I was told that I would not be able to see my children. I packed up my things and left. I was on the streets for about a week before I was referred to Spring Street.

Staff at Spring Street helped me to find the services I needed to recover and helped me when I was struggling financially. Support worker Lisa pushed me in the right direction and influenced me to get the help I needed. She was always there to remind me of my recovery group sessions and my dentist and doctor’s appointments. I had struggled in my first few weeks at Spring Street. I felt depressed, suffered from paranoia and often wanted to be by myself. Some of the other tenants were also drug users so it felt like a trigger to be in the same space as them. I wanted to keep myself busy and my mind off drugs, so I helped staff with gardening, quick and easy repair jobs, and cleaning.

Through Spring Street, I went to a local drug support service Change Grow Live (CGL). They offered me courses and support with the beginning of my recovery. I chose not to engage with them and I was still taking drugs. I only weighed ten stone when I was referred to CGL. Overtime I engaged with the service and with support from staff member Dave, I took up boxing again and did some training sessions at the gym.

I was also referred to another local drug support charity, Emerging Futures (EF) which put me up at a house for around three to four weeks. This was a drug-free house with a member of staff on site every 24 hours. I felt safe and able to stay clean from drugs here. During the day I went to a hub and attended Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous.

In January I went to Windmill House, a service that specialises in drug rehabilitation and respite. From then on I knew I wanted my life back. Within one week of being there I had clear results from a drugs test. Everything the staff asked me to do I did. I still went to Alcoholics Anonymous even though I didn’t drink, just to keep learning about it. I became a poster boy for recovery.

CGL, EF and Kirklees in Recovery (KIR) are drug support services that are linked locally and are funded by Kirklees Council. I am very grateful for these services as they helped me in my recovery. I don’t want to see them run out of funding as they are important services for people living with addiction. I’m hoping to raise money for KIR in a few months by doing a fundraising boxing match. My boxing trainer died recently and I’m looking to dedicate my next match to him.

There is no medicine that is able to help with a crack cocaine addiction. I had to attend a twelve-step recovery programme. The steps included acknowledging you have an addiction, to learning how to make amends with people and building trust. This was really good to attend – it changed my life. I couldn’t have done it without the support of staff at the recovery services and the programmes and groups I attended. I owe 40 percent of my recovery to them and 60 percent to myself.

I am now over two months clean from drugs and it has been really good. I now volunteer for EF. I am enjoying helping others who are experiencing what I have been through. I regularly go to the Mission Café in Huddersfield to represent EF and am proud to show other people it’s possible to recover from your addiction. I have also asked the manager at Spring Street to promote EF to the tenants. I owe my life to a staff member at EF for what he has done for me in my journey to recovery.

I am proud of being able to keep myself clean from the drugs. If I had not been an addict, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I’ve gained self-confidence and self-belief. Drugs had taken that all away from me. I am now reliable and honest, as being in recovery means I don’t have to lie about being an addict anymore. I have bad days but they say you can always do better – you are always in recovery. I do a minimum of two drugs tests a week and these have come back clean since January.

I have come far from where I was and I’m reaching all the targets I’ve set myself. I used to get food bank items during my time at Spring Street. Now I do my own shopping, have my own money and have a routine. I have job opportunities opening up – I have recently applied for a job supporting people in recovery. I have good friends, and I’ve put on weight and become healthier. I now have my kids back in my life and they have their dad back. I am currently bidding on a council house which I hope to move into. My finances are stable and I’m hoping to make plans to go on holiday. I’m enjoying boxing again. I was depressed and now I’m happy. It feels amazing where I am at now in my life. 

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