Well it all started about 15 years ago now. I remember seeing in the Bristol Evening post a bit about a drug and alcohol rehab in the center of Bristol that took in homeless people and that Housing Benefit would pay for your stay. I was only 20 years old but already at that time in my life drugs had become an issue, so after my flat getting taken over by all the local drug users I decided to go to the rehab and see what they said. I was given an assessment the very next day and with in a week I got a call to say I had been accepted.

I spent  3 months in Walsingham House and even celebrated my 21st birthday  there.  I looked and felt 100% recovered but could not get my head around relapse prevention or keeping yourself safe,  in the community. I left and before I knew it I was right back to were I had started… mixing with the same people in the same using area.

It took me 5 years to get myself back into Walsinham House and in those 5 years my life got from bad to worse at the end of my using. To have died would have been a blessing as I was living in hell…  homeless, penny less with no hope or respect for myself or anyone I came into contact with.

The only thing that made me smile was the thoughts I had of my time spent in Walsingham House. I remember one time walking into the court yard of the rehab all of about 7 stone, I asked one of the workers if I could please just have a sandwich as I’d not eaten in days. They said Darren I still pray for you and hope you do what is needed to get yourself clean again. I was then given a sandwich and wished a safe night.


After finally getting a detox in a mental hospital I was accepted again into Walsingham House. I remember my first day back feeling really, really angry that I had to go into treatment for a second time and shameful that my way really didn’t work. At the same time I had more hope and an over powering willingness to do what ever it took to complete treatment.

From Walsingham House I then went on to a secondary treatment centre, I only had to few weeks to complete and ended up getting discharged for my behaviors around going to visit family with out processing in group. I felt it was unfair but luckily the dry house I was going to move into still accepted me. A few days after the discharge and  being out of the treatment bubble and in the real world I bumped into a old friend and made a decision to relapse!

The day after I could not stop crying just knowing I had 9 months clean time and I had just thrown it away over a crack pipe! I phoned a friend from the rooms of N.A meetings and he came and got me and took me to a meeting!

After that relapse my recovery has gone from strength too strength. I started a college course and doing some voluntary work, and then went on to working part time and studying, then more voluntary work and studying until I got to a place were I was ready to work full time. I have always got myself to at least 3 N.A meetings a week and work a program of recovery and have an amazing life! I have had a daughter in recovery who has just become 5years old and for her birthday I brought her a pony as that’s what she wonted. I have also got a horse myself as it was always something I had as a kid before the drugs came into my life. I work full time with ex offenders. I have taken my mum on holiday twice now, first we went to Turkey and just the other mouth we went Tenerife. I have a lovely 3 bed flat so my daughter not only has her own bedroom but also a playroom with all her toys. I go to the gym 5 times a week and love running. I will be running the Bristol half marathon again this year I have also run the Bristol 10k a few times now.

After being a lost street junkie I am now a recovered, responsible and productive member of society. And with pride I can say I’ll be celebrating 9 years of ongoing recovery in November 2011.

One of things I love the most from my stay at Walsingham House is  St James Priory Church.

I remember after being in Walsingham only a few days on my first stay, one of the residents asking if I had yet visited the church St James on the court yard. I was told it was right next to Walsingham and that you were free to go inside any time out side of the daily program.

So I asked a resident and they took me over! I remember feeling my first ever moment of pure serenity in that church and not a day would go past with out me going there at least once or twice just to get some peace of mind away from the treatment community.

On my relapse I went into there on my hands and knees begging my Higher Power  for the strength too get myself back into recovery..

Once back in Walsingham I started going back into the church as often as I could. Once I completed treatment I would still go to the church though being as busy as I was I’d only get there a few times a week. I could never go into town with out popping in the church just to feel the serenity that building would give me!

When I was told that the church roof needed repairs so it would be out of use for a few months I was very sad as I felt I’d lose an important part of my own personal recovery process. However it just meant I would have to pray more at home and visit other churches. So I did but now it’s back open I’m really pleased as although I like other churches no other church gives me the 100% peace of mind with true serenity that St James has for over 15 years of my life!!!

DN 🙂