Day 27 of Recovery Month brings us the journey of Charlie K. If you haven’t had a chance to read all the other stories we have brought you this month, then check them out as they are just as heart-warming and inspirational as this one!

I have many happy memories about my start in life; I had a loving family and was living in a stable environment. Mine and the family’s world came crashing down when I was 6 as my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and as her disease progressed it took its toll on the family. I struggled with the feelings this gave me and subsequently my behaviour began to deteriorate.

At 15 I left school and immersed myself into a drugs culture. It was the perfect way for me to escape reality and create an identity I could hide behind. Over the next 25 years my life continually spiralled downwards; I lost jobs, friends, partners and family. I went to prison and even lost my sanity at one point.

By the age of 39 I had become totally broken and lived in virtual isolation, preferring to shut myself off from the world believing there was something intrinsically wrong with me.

It was at this time a family member that I hadn’t seen in years got in touch with me and offered to take me to a 12-step meeting. I took him up on his offer as I knew he had struggled with addiction but he had his life together for many years now and also seemed very happy – I wanted both of these for myself!!! After attending meetings for a few months, I managed to get myself a detox. Afterwards I continued to go to meetings and stay clean.

It was at 4 months clean after talking to my sponsor I made the decision to go to Changes UK. I was finding it hard living on my own and felt my life lacked direction. Arriving in Birmingham I was immediately welcomed by the guys at Changes and made to feel like one of the family. I was encouraged to attend 12-step meetings and work with my sponsor.

Within time I was given the opportunity to volunteer as a peer mentor at the Clarity House detox project. This gave me a sense of responsibility, direction and helped me rebuild my self-esteem. I formed close relationships with the staff and volunteers and attended many training programmes. I was educated in professional work ethics and obtained the skills in how to support others who were where I once was; I began to really believe in myself.

After a year I went on to volunteer in the Recovery Academy. I facilitated groups and supported and mentored the guys that were new in the door. I felt part of a team and valued as an individual.

In 2015 I was named Birmingham volunteer of the year for the work I was doing at Changes UK. It wasn’t long after that I was offered, and grabbed with both hands, paid employment as a support worker at Recovery Central in Digbeth.

I have since left Changes and I am now working at a 12-step treatment centre helping vulnerable addicts in early recovery. I have a family and a brand-new life.

Most importantly I have a reality I no longer wish to escape. Many of the things I was taught at Changes I utilise in my daily life. The sense of family has never gone away and I shall remain forever grateful for the love, friendship and direction I was given at Changes UK.