Since its inception almost a decade ago, Changes has been developing and delivering innovative, person-centred support for people seeking abstinent recovery from drugs and/or alcohol.  Our approach to recovery has been developed by service users and is peer led – in other words, people who have lived experience of achieving and maintaining recovery lead the way and provide the support that service users need.

Changes staff and volunteers are passionate people – we all consider it a privilege to work with people in recovery – and we know that we can help those looking for a new life beyond drugs and alcohol, just like Darren.  Here’s his story of addiction and recovery, as told to Mike Allen.

“I had lost everything. I had lost my family, my friends; I was street homeless and addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.  I was 32 years old and had absolutely nothing.  I managed to get off these drugs, but only by swapping them for alcohol and cocaine.  I ended up with an 8 year prison sentence and tried unsuccessfully to get off drugs in prison.  One day I woke up one day in Heartlands hospital with my mum and a priest at my bed.  It was fifty fifty as to whether I would pull through.

When I arrived at Changes UK, I was anxious and scared, but Changes provided the first real opportunity to speak with people who have had similar experiences.  

I picked up my first drug when I was 9 years old and didn’t stop until I entered recovery at 43. I was now clean for the first time in over thirty years! I was about twelve months clean when Changes offered me a job, at Clarity House detox centre.  It was lovely to feel trusted and in a position to start helping others who were the same as me.  I then moved on to another role within Changes’ supported living project which helped me grow in my recovery as well. Every person I help not only gives them hope, but also gives me hope for my recovery. 

I pray every morning saying ‘thank you for another day clean’. I’m slowly getting my kids back in my life, I’m starting to smile. I simply can’t express how I feel now, when my kids tell me what is going on in their lives, they have never done that, or more to the point, never had the opportunity to do that. Just to be a Dad is a wonderful honour and my tears of joy as I try to express my inner most feelings are so powerful. This is all down to Changes organisation for giving me that opportunity to do something different.

I plan to work with homeless addicts and spread the word of recovery; I’m passionate about what I’m doing. I never thought this was possible and if I can do it, anyone can. God willing, I will keep helping other people in the situation I have been in.”