Phil Grimes reached his lowest point when he was injecting heroin into his groin and nearly lost a leg.
With a criminal record, a spell in jail and hooked on hard drugs, his prospects could not have been bleaker.
Yet Phil has a tale to tell which, though grim and brutal in parts, is ultimately an upbeat story of hope which he hopes can help others.
Now clean for 10 years and working as an alcohol addiction coach, the 56-year-old, who is ‘Blackpool, born and bred’, is also the author of a book that has won plaudits from those who have read it.
Aptly titled Smack, Crack and the Long Road Back, the volume is a gripping account of Phil’s struggle with addiction, the depths he sank to while on drugs and his eventual, hard-fought journey out that hellish existence.
Phil self-published the book in November and since then, readers have posted a string of five-star reviews. This week it was Amazon’s 52nd best selling book on drug addiction.
Father-of-five Phil of West Park Drive, Blackpool, said: “If someone had told me when I was younger that I would be clean, have a good job and, even stranger, write a book, I would have thought they were joking.
“But that’s what has happened. I’ve had some amazing feedback from the book – people have told me that it has inspired and encouraged them.
“I was there, using heroin, smoking crack, stuck on that cycle – and there didn’t seem a way out for me. But there was.
“That can happen to others.”
Phil didn’t originally intend to get the book published.
He said: “Once I had come of out of rehab the final time and finally turned a corner, I started to write things down because I had a lot of things in my head that I wanted to get out.
“And when I got going, it was cathartic. It actually helped me.
“I didn’t intend to do anything with it, but when I got good feedback from my wife, my cousin and a mate’s mum, I decided to self publish it, with help from an online writers’ group.”
Phil says his addiction problems began when he was at school in Blackpool, when he was plagued by bullies and became hooked on sleeping tablets.
He started drinking heavily and then using cannabis. After eventually gravitating towards heroin and crack addiction, things spiralled out of control and he was jailed for five years for a serious robbery offence.
But a final attempt at rehab, and then a chance meeting with future wife Sue, whom he credits with helping turn his life around, led him out of the black hole.
Today he is in a job actively helping others addicted to alcohol.
n Smack, Crack and the Long Road Back is available from Amazon.