A 48-year-old man from Lincoln who has been clean from heroin for two years has thanked a local charity, which rebranded on Wednesday, for saving his life.
Philip Garside was shoplifting to feed his habit around 10 years ago, which led to trouble with the police and landed him in court.
He has now turned his life around with the support of the former Addaction charity, now known as We Are With You.
Addaction Lincolnshire and Young Addaction Lincolnshire officially operate under the new branding from February 26 as part of a UK-wide move.
We Are With You provides free, confidential support to people experiencing issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health.
Philip, who has used the service for over 10 years, opened up to The Lincolnite at the rebrand launch event about his own personal experience.
He is now living in shared accommodation and is starting to get his life back on track. He said: “I was using heroin heavily. I was struggling and it has taken all this time to come clean. I wasn’t ready at the time, but the last few years I have been more stable.
“They helped me get clean and find accommodation, and helped me with getting treatment for Hep C. My life is back on track and they saved my life.
“Taking drugs triggered my mental health and psychosis. I got delusional and started believing things that weren’t really there and I thought that people were lying to me. I got paranoid.
“I thought I’d still be heavily using. I initially used the service to get a script (for methadone) so I didn’t have to shoplift. I still have mental health problems, but they are getting better and they (We Are With You) have been supportive all the way through my journey.
“Being on the script has helped and the determination from myself as I didn’t want to carry on my lifestyle and I am now a stronger person. I want to thank them for their support as without them I probably would be dead.”
Dave Penman, Operations Manager for Lincoln, cut a special cake at the rebrand launch event at the charity’s local base on Newland.
The charity, was originally established as Addaction in 1967 by Mollie Craven, whose son was a heroin addict as she didn’t feel there was enough support out there.
Fast forward to 2020 and it supports around 1,000 active clients in Lincoln and over 2,000 across the whole county.
Research conducted by the charity shows that one in six people across England and Scotland have personal experience of issues with drugs, alcohol, mental health or self-harm, but millions are struggling alone. Three times as many people surveyed said they would choose the new charity name as it is more inclusive, approachable and reassuring.
In addition to one-to-one interventions and group work, the charity also does a lot of work with the needle exchange, training around Naloxone (opiate reversal medication) and collaborative work with other agencies including the city council’s intervention team.
People can refer themselves or be referred from other organisations and anyone wishing to access the service should pop in or call 01522 305518.
The Lincoln service alone includes 14 recovery workers, four team leaders, three prescribers, an operations manager, a nurse and mental health nurse, a Young Person’s team, three administration staff and others. The charity has around 83 staff in total across Lincolnshire.
Karen Ratcliff, Lincolnshire Service Manager, said: “I think we are on more of an even keel now and you don’t see it (drug problems) as much on the streets now. We are still offering exactly the same services, but we are rebranding as We Are With You, which is a new warm and welcoming name.”