“I was against drinking for ages, then I started to get into trouble”
Steven’s birth parents struggled with drug and alcohol misuse. He was adopted by a new family in his early years, along with his siblings. Steven was bullied at school for being adopted and said he took to smoking cannabis aged nine or so to make him feel better.
As he entered his mid-teens Steven started playing up at home and getting into trouble with his parents. Despite originally being ‘against alcohol’ due to his birth parents’ problems, Steven started drinking around the age of fifteen. By the time he sat his GCSEs he was drinking heavily. He left school with no qualifications.
Soon after that Steven started taking cocaine, MDMA and ecstasy, staying out later and later, increasing his alcohol and cannabis consumption. Steven later found out that this may have contributed to his mother getting depression. “I was getting really moody, pushing myself away from my family,” he says. Eventually, Steven was kicked out of his house and had serious drug debts. He was on the streets for two weeks, and was refused at most hostels because of his drug habits. Social services managed to find him to a house in Peterborough.
Steven had stopped taking drugs for a short period until he was 18 years old when he started to hang out with a new crowd of friends and started smoking cannabis again. He then committed a violent crime and was sentenced to jail at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institute. Around the time of his court date, he found out his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his child.
“When she had our baby, I thought, I’ve got to sort myself out, man up and take responsibility for some things.”
Inside Feltham Steven says, “drugs didn’t come across to me as much as I thought they would.” He was able to address his substance misuse problems with one of Addaction’s in-house staff through the ‘Journey to Recovery’ (J2R) programme . Steven’s key worker, Kira, worked closely with him to help improve his thinking and outlook.
“I learned to cope with what I’ll be faced with when I get out,” Steven says. “I used to hide my problems until I started the programme with Kira. Now I realise that it’s good to talk!”
Kira organised three consecutive all-day sessions for Steven and his parents with the help of Adfam. By day three, Steven felt like his parents finally understood him and he’d apologised to his mother for the stress he had put her under.
Now Steven is a ‘peer supporter’, helping other inmates at Feltham to combat any drug and alcohol problems. He tells others about the J2R service and encourages his peers to talk about their problems.
“If people want to talk about cannabis or Spice, then they know they can come to me. Most of us know the dangers but we don’t know much more than that.”
When Steven is released he plans to volunteer in the drug and alcohol treatment sector. “I’d love to get into a drug or alcohol team, so I can put everything I’ve learned here into practice and help others avoid the things I did.”
Steven also plans to visit his old school, who he is still in touch with, and talk to Year 11s about where he went wrong. In the long term, Steven hopes to develop a trade like plumbing – one day he wants to own his own business.