For a group of recovering drug addicts, the concept of being “normal” is completely alien.
And it took coming together and realising they were not alone that finally put them on the road to recovery.
The three, Stuart, Steve and G, have many things in common, but the most important to them is Drug Addicts Anonymous (DAA).
It’s a place they meet once a week to share their experiences and help other, like minded people.
The group was formed in 2010 by a group of addicts whose only options were to keep using and die, or get better and live.
Stuart said: “For me, I was a drug user who couldn’t stop. I could never get free from that obsession of using drugs even though I wanted to.
“I couldn’t see a way out.
“I lost sense of anything that was positive in my life and all I lived for was the feeling I got from taking drugs. I wasn’t working and I was stealing from my family and committing petty crime to get my next fix.”
Stuart, 42, started using drugs when he was just 14 years old. At first it was “recreational” drugs like cannabis, alcohol, speed and acid. Eventually he started using heroin.
“I came into recovery and got clean when I was 26,” he said.
“I started to build my life up and I was clean for seven years, but all I could think about was drugs so I wasn’t happy. Eventually I started using again.”
Stuart, of St Annes started attending DAA, a 12 step programme, shortly after it was set up, and starting to see an end to his obsession with drugs.
He said: “To me, we were a group of desperate drug addicts giving each other hope to get better. I got that feeling that there was a way out.
“It’s been four years now and I feel grateful. I’ve built up relationships I lost through drugs and I’ve turned my life around.”
For G, he said he tried everything to get clean, including rehabilitation and even a spell behind bars at a young offender’s institution for low-level stealing.
“At my worst, I was stealing from my parents,” he said.
“My mum spent thousands to put me into a detox programme, I tried rehab and it got the point when I ran out of ideas.
“Each time I got clean I would tell myself it would be the last time, but I couldn’t stop.”
Like Stuart, G started smoking “weed” as he began hanging out with the wrong crowd when he was 14 years old.
Soon he picked up crack cocaine, and his life started spiralling out of control very quickly, though he managed to keep himself in work.
“I always had a good job,” he said. “I was a sales person and I always had good money. I would try and stop using drugs thinking if I only drank it would be OK, but drink and drugs go hand in hand.
“I fell out with my family and my head was total chaos. I had lost everything. I hated myself and something inside told me I wasn’t able to do it anymore. I needed help.”
Determined to change his life, G, 34 of St Annes, started attending DAA five years ago and he has never looked back.
He said: “I can’t explain the difference it’s made to me. I am married and have a family – it’s completely changed my life.
“I thought my case was completely hopeless – I was an addict who was never going to get clean. But I have, thanks the DAA.”
Steve, who is Blackpool born and bred, says he spent 30 years continually drinking and using drugs.
In that time he never tried to stop.
“I just didn’t want to me be. I was running away from myself by drinking and getting high on any drug possible, whether it was prescription or illegal.
“I just didn’t want to face a life without drink or drugs and it was scary.”
Steve said when he first started thinking about changing his lifestyle he’d spend a week off drink, then tell himself it was OK to have one or two
“Before I knew it I was back to drinking seven days a week, non stop,” he said.
“I went to a rehab centre and got completely clean for the firm time in 30 years and I was frightened. I’d never been without drink or drugs.
“I started seeing the same people as I was before and I got back into that lifestyle.”
But one day, in a moment of clarity, Stuart, now 52, said he realised that if he didn’t stop drinking and taking drugs, he would die.
He walked into his first DAA meeting 18 months ago.
He said: “I was received there straight away, and I’ve been there ever since.
“My life since that day has changed beyond my wildest dreams.
“I am in a relationship and I have a child.
“I love my life.
“You have to try every day, but each day it’s easier. For me, I will never be normal. But once being a normal person was completely alien to me, now it’s something I understand.”
n DAA meets on Thursdays at 7pm.
For 24-hour support call 07927 915065.