Six months ago, I overdosed on Brighton beach, where I was found half-dead. I was really bad on heroin, crack and the drink. After that I came back to Oxford and I’m clean now. I’d hit rock bottom, but I’ve been given another chance in life.
I don’t remember the overdose, it’s a total blank. I remember being in hospital – I was there for about a month. When I came back to Oxford I was staying with a friend, but he was doing too many drugs and I knew I couldn’t stay there. That’s when Hannah and Liz at The Big Issue Foundation helped me get a place. Without them I wouldn’t have coped. They took me down to the council and helped me sort myself out.
I started doing drugs about 30 years ago, but I was clean for 15 years. However, after my mum died and my cousin took his own life, I went back on the drugs. I couldn’t cope, and drugs and alcohol were my escape. I lost my self-respect and had no respect for other people either. I’m a qualified block paver and slab worker and I used to be very good at it but that all went to pot when I went back on drugs.
Now I love selling The Big Issue. It gives me confidence and I’m part of society again. Being in Oxford I sell to people of all nationalities. Most of the people I meet on the street are polite. Sometimes they ignore you, but I don’t let it get me down.
I live in my own flat. I see old friends that still use drugs, but I keep telling them that if I can stop then they can too. They always give me a pat on the back. Before I wasn’t looking after myself properly and was just too consumed by drugs and drink. There’s a big difference in me now. And that’s down to The Big Issue.
I’m originally from Derry but I was raised in East London. I’m a traveller by blood. I’m proud of my identity and being part of that community. I just take one day at a time and whatever crosses my path I try to deal with it in a civil manner. I see myself as a recovering addict now so for me it feels nice to be nice.