Day 21 of Recovery Month. Today, we bring you the story of our very own James C. James is the gardening services manager at Changes UK and an vital part of the Changes family. We hope you enjoy the read!

To the outside world there would seem to be no reason as to why I got in to drugs I had a good upbringing in a pretty normal family home, my problem seemed to be the need to be liked and the inability to say NO!

At the age of 11, I started to smoke weed with the group of friends I had made at school and it very quickly escalated to everything and anything with my drug of choice being MORE! By this time there was a noticeable difference between mine and my friends drug use. While theirs seemed to be recreational and under control, mine became a full-time job without pay. No matter where I was or what time of the day I was ‘off my head.’ I had absolutely no control over my drug taking no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.

At 16, I tried heroin for the first time and that was it, I had found home. Heroin very quickly replaced all other drugs and became the love of my life to the detriment of everything and everybody around me and most importantly myself! This destructive relationship with heroin carried on for the next 15 years, losing me jobs, friends, belongings, family and very nearly my life. It took me from my own home to hostels to tents and finally the streets doing anything to fund my habit. Nothing got in my way, I was like a runaway train with no sign of stopping.
Finally, at the age of 31, on my umpteenth stay in a hostel, a door was opened for me and the chance to go to rehab. I walked through the door a broken and very scared boy but was instantly shown love and a different way of life which gave me the foundations I needed to rebuild my life drug free. One of these bricks was Changes UK where I moved to from rehab and straight away my family grew.

During my time at Changes UK I began volunteering in the Recovery Academy, and then in the 2nd stage property as a peer mentor to other residents who were beginning their recovery journey, as I felt it was important to support and guide others and give something back. However, my passion was always horticulture and I was City and Guilds NPTC qualified. Fortunately, in August 2015 I was given the opportunity to start a gardening business ‘Changes Gardening’ on a ‘permit to work’ basis with others in recovery. This was the perfect chance to give back to society and continue to develop myself in my recovery.

Today I am employed by Changes UK as the garden services manager. I have my own place; my family and kids are back in my life and for the first time ever I can take responsibility for myself and for that I would like to say thank you to Changes UK for being part of my journey…