Big Issue vendor turned Harley Street therapist Mark Dempster lived through addiction and homelessness, and survived. This is his new advice column, exclusively for The Big Issue. If you’ve got a problem, let Mark use his experience to help you through it.
This column is about helping and giving back to The Big Issue sellers and readers. I used to be the former and now am the latter. My name is Mark Dempster and I have led two lives, one before recovery from addiction and one after.
I know first-hand what it is like to be a chronic dependent addict, a dealer and smuggler, homeless, a criminal and prisoner in a foreign jail. Now I am someone who has achieved over 20 years’ drug and alcohol sobriety, learned the rules of society, begun the training and got the qualifications, written the books and set up my own counselling practice to help others in the way I was helped.
The experience and support The Big Issue gave me during my early addiction recovery helped me regain control and become a successful Harley Street therapist and addiction expert. It is a great honour to work with The Big Issue again, giving my advice through this column.
James struggles with cannabis addiction. He has tried stopping several times but couldn’t stay clean from cannabis use for any longer than four days. He felt restless, irritable and discontent when he stopped. James found it difficult to deal with the loneliness that he felt on previous occasions when trying to stop. He couldn’t hang out with same old friends as knew he would smoke when around them, he also didn’t know how to fill his time when not smoking cannabis and couldn’t stand the constant craving and obsession when detoxing from it.