Mum shared the horror with me

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Nick began taking drugs at public school and was expelled aged 16. He got deeper into a "drug-led" life which, he says, had a profound effect on his family. He is now 28.

Drugs made me feel self-assured and when I was taking them I felt sure people liked me. I started with cannabis and moved on. It was all too easy to get drugs at first - the father of a friend was a cocaine addict and gave us stuff free, then I started buying amphetamines and other substances. No heroin at first. That was my bottom line.

I began to need drugs, and I used them every day. My parents didn't know and I wasn't living at home, but I realised I had a problem and I was scared. I decided one day to go home and tell my parents and ask for help. But the day I chose was the very day my mother was kicking my stepfather out and instead of my asking her for help, she was turning to me. I'd already been through my mother and father divorcing and that devastated me. I took a lot of drugs to get me through that period. I'd seen that day as my last hope.

It was a downhill path after that. I lost all optimism in life. I got more and more confused and disillusioned. I was stealing to feed my habit, I was having no success with girlfriends. I started dabbling in opiates and then I tried heroin. I had very little contact with home until I went to the doctor who put me into a treatment centre. My parents were told then, and I broke down in front of my mother. She was calm and practical, and said we'll see the doctor and get you off. She thought that would be the end of it.

I lived at home, secretly stealing, selling and scoring and telling lies to my parents. It was then that my mother began to change. I didn't know, but she had begun going for help herself and she was changing. She stopped making things easy for me, bailing me out when I was in trouble with the police, paying my fines. I was angry and aggravated and felt she had been brainwashed. It all came to a head the day I stole her silver rings, which were really precious to her, and sold them. The police arrested me and this time my mother refused to stand bail. So I ended up in prison on remand.

That was the turning point. I made the decision then to put myself into a treatment centre, where I was helped to realise I wasn't a bad person. I then went on to Narcotics Anonymous and at the same time my Mum was sorting out her recovery from my addiction. She really felt she had lost her life and she was rediscovering how to live for herself. And that has been wonderful for us. Our relationship is close and intense now. We can talk, we both know more about what happened. But we're more like friends now than mother and son. We're equals who have shared the horror of addiction.

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