Paul's Story

I moved to Sapphire Independent Housing's Recovery Service at Brecknock Road after spending 20 weeks in a rehab programme in November 2015. I had found myself homeless earlier that year after I lost my job as a builder and my relationship had broken down, most of which was due to alcohol.

Looking back I had always liked a drink, but as time went on my drinking got a lot heavier and I ended up binge drinking four to five bottles of wine every evening after work. I told myself I didn’t have a problem because I didn’t drink all day, I thought I was in control and could function without it if I wanted.

To cut a long story short, after 35 years of heavy drinking it all caught up with me and I ended up jobless, homeless and living in a B&B. My drinking was at a dangerous level by this point and my doctor referred me to ICAS (Integrated Camden Alcohol Services) where I was given a key worker to help me gradually reduce my alcohol intake. ICAS funded me to go to Broadway Lodge which is a treatment centre, based in Western Supermare, for people with alcohol or substance misuse addictions.

The programme at Broadway Lodge offered a medically supervised detox and lasted 20 weeks. You have to be dry when you join the centre and stay dry throughout your time there. If I’m honest when I walked into Broadway Lodge I was thinking to myself “I’m not like these people, I shouldn’t be here” but you have to leave all that at the door, as the therapy and group work sessions are intensive. You hear other peoples stories, spend time speaking to your counsellor and you start to realise how serious it all is.

After the programme finished it was time to leave Broadway House and that’s when my next big worry started to hit home – where was I going to live? I was referred to Brecknock Road and joined the service in April 2016. Brecknock Road was a safe haven to me as it is totally dry temporary accommodation, which is just what you need when you come out of rehab. I think I was a bit overly confident when I came out, thinking I had beaten it and was once again in contro. You soon realise when you are walking down the road and there seems to be a pub on every corner that staying focused is going to be more difficult that you first thought. Olu, my project worker, really supported me and pulled me through some dark times at the beginning of my stay. I suffer from depression and the worry about not having somewhere permanent to live was bringing me down. Olu kept checking in with me and kept me focused by reassuring me that I had a roof over my head and a lot to be positive about.

I spent 9 months at Brecknock Road and I know if I hadn’t had somewhere safe and dry like the Recovery Service to come to after rehab I wouldn’t be sitting here today sharing my story. That’s why I get frustrated when I hear about all the funding cuts, meaning places like the Recovery Service are closing by the day. What is the point of spending all that time and money on rehabilitation when it isn’t followed through? You need that time to adjust to the outside world as a non drinker and learn how to avoid triggers. I now know for example, I can’t go back to the building trade as there are just too many triggers for me there. I have had to realign my life to a certain extent but I don’t look at this negatively anymore because so many positive opportunities have opened up to me since I went to rehab and moved into Brecknock Road.

During my time at Brecknock Road I was referred to SHP Aftercare and undertook training to become an SHP Recovery Peer which I really enjoy. I want to help others who need it like I did and to my surprise it turns out I’m pretty good at it. I’m now training to be a SMART group facilitator using cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with SHP and I am also undertaking an introduction to counselling course. If you had said to me a few years back that I would have been doing any of this I wouldn’t have believed you.

I have recently moved into my own flat and I’m enjoying the simple things like redecorating and making it a home. My children are grown up now but I have lived in Camden my whole life and they still live in the area. My drinking didn’t just affect me it affected everyone around me, especially my children. That’s why I am so happy I have found somewhere close to them so we can start rebuilding our relationship in a new and more positive way.

Going to rehab was the best thing I ever did but having Brecknock Road when I came out it is what helped me focus on my recovery and realise I can live a happy life, outside of rehab, that doesn’t involve alcohol. I am truly grateful to Sapphire Independent Housing and the team at the Recovery Service who have enabled me to move on in my life and find a place I can call home.