My name is Julian. I have lived in Bristol all my 39 years of age. I am from a large family: my father was Irish, my mother English, and I am the youngest of ten children. I always struggled as a young boy, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I thought there was something wrong with me, and there was as I later found out, after 25 years of substance abuse, drinking alcohol, and Class-A drugs. A criminal career from 13 years old; I’ve been to jail for my offences. I have made a complete failure of my life. I have messed up my home life with my addiction; I have hurt myself and my children, family and friends. I have done many things that I said to myself I wouldn’t do, like inject crack, heroin, speed, ecstasy, acid etc. I have never taken any responsibility for my actions: quite frankly, I hated myself and the world.
Today it’s a completely different life I lead. On the 1st January 2003 I came to Walsingham House, a treatment centre in Bristol. When I arrived I was 7 ½ stone and terrified, a huge fear, I looked 70 years old. I was welcomed at Walsingham House with open arms: it was the beginning of something very special. I spent 12 weeks here: I learnt how to deal with my anger and rage; it was a safe and secure place to deal with issues in my life. I had always used drugs or alcohol to numb out my pain: I shed tears of sadness, tears of joy. I met people like me, who understood me, who had been where I had been, and who had done similar things to me. Abstinence from all mood-altering chemicals is essential for my recovery.
I learnt so much about myself at Walsingham House: my thinking has changed, my behaviour has changed, and my whole outlook on life is very different now. I like myself; I am now comfortable in my own skin. A new discovery of life began for me her at Walsingham House and I have the utmost respect for all concerned; councillors, volunteers and a great cook.
I finished Walsingham House after 12 weeks of hard work, and went on to secondary treatment for six months, and completed that. A big thank you to all concerned at the secondary also. I am now at St James Priory Project’s Third Stage dry house and have been for the last two years. I am nearly ready to move on. All together, I am 31 months clean and sober: throughout all these stages I have stuck it out, and I have reaped the benefits of my hard work. I have friends who genuinely care about me, I am a volunteer in the community, I am also a volunteer at Walsingham House. I am so grateful to everybody connected to my recovery. My daughter is back in my life after eight years of me not being there; most of my family members are back in my life, and I do so many good things that I never thought possible.
Today I am responsible; everything in my life is good and ongoing. I take things one day at a time; I have my ups and downs, but it is how I deal with life now, and it is so different to how it used to be: a miserable existence. Today is a beautiful existence for me, and there are many people in Bristol who could benefit from my experience. If you have drug or alcohol problems, I urge you to give Walsingham House a try. I did and it worked for me.
A special thank you to Walsingham House and St James Priory Project for it was you who gave me this new way of life and for this, I will be eternally grateful.