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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Barrow man's battle to overcome drugs and legal highs

A BARROW man has spoken of his battle to kick drugs after an addiction to legal higs.

The man, known only as David, was serving a 16 month prison sentence for burglary in Lancaster Farms when he made the decision to kick his drug use into touch.

Inside HMP Lancaster Farms during his second spell in prison, a Barrow man decided that it was time to turn his life around and kick his addiction to drugs.

David said: “My Dad wouldn’t come visit me whilst I was in prison, it hurt - I missed him so much. I had thrown my family’s love back in their faces and all to feed my addiction to ‘legal highs’.

“I had messed up, I wanted my life back and I wanted my family back.”

David first experimented with legal highs when he was 13 years old. A friend at school introduced him to plant food, not wanting to be the one who didn’t join in David’s relationship with drugs began.

“There was a level of peer pressure involved although others faced more. I just wanted to join in and I did. We would get it online through a friend’s brother, we’d pay him and it would last a while. It was exciting.

“Just before my fifteenth birthday a friend suffered an overdose which led to me pulling back but because it was so addictive it wasn’t long before I was using legal highs again.”

David has suffered two overdoses where he has woken up in a hospital bed, the first when he was 15 and the second a year later.

“The first time my mam found me in my room. Once at hospital, the staff struggled as they could not identify the drug. That is one of the key dangers; you don’t really know what is in them. It was the first time my mam and dad knew about it, I admitted everything to them. Following that I stayed off drugs for around three months before overdosing at a party.

“My parents tried to get it through to me the dangers of taking any sort of drug, they even talked about moving me away to go live with a relative to get me away from the crowd I was hanging around with. I just didn’t want to know.”

At 16 years old David was ordered to carry out an armed robbery on a jewellery store by a drug dealer to pay off debts he owed. David was arrested, charged and convicted for his crime. He spent ten months inside juvenile prison HMP Hindley.

Upon release from prison David did not return to drugs immediately, he got himself a job and stopped hanging round with his previous friends as a method of avoiding temptation. However around seven months later he returned to drugs after falling into the wrong crowd once more.

David added: ”I was enjoying my life but I missed the drugs. I moved out but the temptation arose and I fell for it. By this time I was using illegal drugs on a regular basis and I started committing burglaries in the area I lived to fund my addiction.”

David was jailed in connection with a number of burglaries. However during his time inside Lancaster Farms prison David’s mind-set began to change and he started seeking help for his addiction.

David continued: “I spoke to people inside, they told me to change and not be dragged down because of drugs. By this time I started to see the damage I was doing to my family, my Mum would come visit me without my Dad. He didn’t want to see me, it was a turning point and it made me realise what was important.”

David was released earlier this year and since then then he has took part in the Force’s Integrated Offender Management (I.O.M.) programme. The I.O.M. process is there to support individuals who are released from prison and want to turn their lives around. The programme works closely with a number of partner agencies including UNITY.

David said: “Talking to people really does help and I am currently choosing to undergo fortnightly drug tests in order to keep me focussed on not taking drugs again. I’ve still got a year to run on my probation and I am currently seeking jobs to help in my rehabilitation.

“Taking ‘legal highs’ has cost me so much, my advice to people who think it is safe and cool to use is not to do it. I regret ever getting involved with it and it will be a mistake that will live with me for the rest of my life.”

Speaking on David’s story, Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Slattery said:

“David’s story is one that is sadly a common issue throughout the country. Drugs, be they controlled or deemed legal, can spiral a person out of control and into a life of further crime.

“We hope that people take note of this story as it a clear example of the danger of experimenting with drugs and how quickly it can take before a drug becomes an addiction. People have to act responsibly and consider the implications of taking drugs.

“Drugs damage communities and we appeal for anyone with information on the supply of drugs is asked to contact their Neighbourhood Policing Team or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said: “It is heartening to hear David’s story and I admire the way that he has turned his life around. Unfortunately, we don’t hear often about these success stories. As Police and Crime Commissioner I am focused on trying to reduce re-offending and work with partners to give perpetrators the support that they need to make changes so they move away from crime.”

For further information on drugs please visit www.talktofrank.com.

Anyone who has any information into the supply of drugs in Cumbria or sees suspicious activity is asked to report this to Cumbria Police on 101.

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