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Chuck's journey to maintaining sobriety, it's not always gonna be this grey.

Listen to our April edition of the Get Well, Stay Well, Move On. podcast here, or read the transcription of the podcast below:

Maria – Hi everyone, you are listening to the April edition of the Get Well, Stay Well, Move On podcast brought to you by RCA Trust. You are here with Maria,

Bekkah – Bekkah

Maria – and today we have Chuck with us, hi Chuck!

Chuck – Hiya

Maria – So today Chuck is going to speak us through a little bit about drug use, and particularly cocaine use. So here we are going to put in our mandatory trigger warning, we are going to be talking about drug use, suicide etc, so please look after yourselves. If you don’t feel like you can listen to this podcast, please access our transcribed version on the blog on our website. Chuck, so take it away, tell us a wee bit about yourself

Chuck – Hiya, thanks so much for having me. I mean I was using for, god, the last 10 years since I was 18. It’s came a long way since this, but I remember the first time I took it. I was at a party, a new years party when I was 18 and I had no intentions of using or that personally because I’ve got epilepsy. So I used to believe that if I took a line, I would go straight into seizure mode. And then that night, someone offered it to me and I don’t know why but I said yeah, I’m going to do it. I think out of my career of using, the whole time I was taking cocaine, I think that was the only time I only had one line the whole night and I was just absolutely buzzing. And then, I didn’t do it for a while after that and then it gets to the point where you start going out with your pals and that. And I remember I used to make a gram or two grams last me before I went out again. I started to think ‘this isn’t bad man’. I felt brilliant, that euphoric feeling. The feeling of like your ego just goes over and above. Felt like I could do nothing wrong, and that I could do anything. And then time went on, and this is how naïve I was about everything. I was working a part-time job, and the money wasn’t covering what I could sometimes buy. At first it was, and then I mind that I was messaging a dealer, and I was like no actually just patch it because I didn’t have the money but he had seen me typing and asked what it was I was after. I told him I was going to ask for some gear but I don’t have enough money and he says to me that he can tick it to me. And I didn’t know what that was, what is tick? He asked me if I was serious, and explained that if I get it the now, get as much as you want or whatever you need and then just pay it at the end of the month or whenever you get paid. And I thought oh my days, this is brilliant, not thinking of the consequences of what could come with this. I was so naive about everything in this game and when I was at college they all used to do stuff like that. And I mean the very first time I ever saw coke outside of films and programmes was when I was in Jelly babes for my 18th and just seeing people and my pals take it. And its so ironic but I remember looking at them in pure disgust and all that. Saying oh I can’t believe you’re doing that and being pure as judgemental as can be and then look how I turned out, you know what I mean? And then fast forward and I’m ticking it. At first I was able to cover it and then I think for myself personally people used to say oh you have a problem. Nah, not me, I just love taking it, I’m fine. But I think lowkey I didn’t realise that I was becoming an addict. I was out with someone at one point who really wanted to go out and I was out the night before and we wanted to get more gear. So I took out a loan. And I didn’t just take out one loan, I took out multiple loans. I think now that I’ve been paying it back and my credit rating has been ruined, I don’t even look at things like that now. That first loan I just got approved for I think £800 with like 3000% APR, something so stupidly high and you don’t know anything about all of that. I think that when you’re going through school and stuff that’s something they should teach you. If we were to change the curriculum for kids, I think that’s something that should be mandatory to learn about loans, APR, mortgages, and stuff like that. It was great getting this free money and were back to that naivety, I didn’t care as long as I was getting the money. And then it becomes so much fun but you have that honeymoon period with it and it starts to become fun with problems. And then I was in so much debt and I’ve done this in the last 10 years maybe 4 or 5 times. I’ve put my mum and dad through so much and they always used to say to me look, its not about the money, its just the constant lies I was telling. My dad would tell me if I told him it was Monday he would have to he would have to consult the calendar to check. It was that bad that I was lying about pure miniscule things and manipulating everything. And then, when I was coming here and I was seeing yourself Bekkah and you know just to be honest, I was saying I wasn’t using but I was. And I was just taking advantage of things like that, and I need to be honest now because if I’m not admitting it’s not getting the message across. The worst thing is it’s not even the lying to other people, you’re kidding yourself on at the end of the day. It just gradually got worse and worse and my mum and dad kept bailing me out. It just spiralled from there and there was points where I would stop and just get back on it again. Never in my head thought that I have a problem. Like I think I always was in denial. Ended up more or less having an identity crisis over this because when I stopped I thought oh this is it man, life is boring which is the opposite of all you know. So fast forward again to six months ago and I was still using, I was in thousands upon thousands pounds worth of debt. Mum and dad didn’t know about it and I owed so much money to dealers. I think for two dealers when I added it up it came to about 4 or 5 grand and like really bad you know. The thing was why I was so good at manipulating and getting tick was because when I did tick at the time with particular dealers I would always pay it back, so I was always reliable. They kept giving me more and more and then they were like that – you need to get this paid, and I would shrug it off and say that I would and ask for more and they would be like sound and gave it to me. I mean in the back of my head there was not a chance they were getting that money back, I would always avoid it. It got to a point where I was out one time nearly 6 months ago and I got put in a motor, someone picked me up and said we need this money, this that and the other, and I was like, right I’ll get it sorted. It was scary man, really scary. So this was the end of September and it was my birthday, mum and dad went out and it was a perfect opportunity to go out and get drugs. So went and paid for 8 grams of gear and obviously felt pure jolly, skipping down the road like I had a golden ticket. And then see when I got in the gaff, reality set in and I thought ufft my life is in tatters man. I felt great for like 20 minutes and then started having thoughts that I’ve never had in my life. Like I was going to top myself so I just took as much coke as I possibly could that day. I couldn’t even go down the stairs it was that bad. And then that night I went to my bed and I had a seizure and because of how fast I was moving in the seizure, I dislocated my shoulder. And then when that happened, I needed to go to hospital to have my shoulder reset. And obviously, in my head I was like, I’ll get this put back into place, then I’ll go back home and keep taking gear. Then I had four or five more seizures while they put my shoulder back into place. I was kept in overnight  and all I could think was I’ve got all that gear under my pillow.  In my head I was kidding myself on being in denial like it’s going to be fine. It’s going be absolutely fine, kosher. And then I did the whole thing, phoning my mum up, pure manipulating the situation like I usually would and was like oh you alright, are you okay, why are you like this why are you acting like that…? And she was like what is all these drugs under your pillow? What’s going on? Don’t even deny it? And at that point I knew the game was up. So it just got to that point where it all came out,  you know? Got all this debt, owed money to drug dealers this that and the other. And then I just felt like threre was no solutions because I knew within myself that I was at completely rock bottom. And then after that 6 months ago, I joined an 12-step programme to help me get off it, done what I had to do through the programme and then you work it everyday. I’ll work the steps every day of my life. I nearly died and now through that, I just remember getting to one month clean. I never thought I would get 30 minutes clean, never mind a month you know? And then it just gradually built up and so a week on Friday ill be seven months clean. It’s something I never thought I would be able to do. And like we were saying, everything does happen for a reason. And I honestly do believe that I was meant to have that seizure because if I didn’t I would still be in more debt, people looking for me and not telling them. I think it’s just the whole thing, I did feel ashamed about it, but I’m proud to be an addict because I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t, that’s what makes me who I am. But now I can get it under control doing the programme that I do, and it has really saved my life. I can’t think what it would have been now if I had still been that way, id probably be dead. That’s the harsh reality of it, so it has really saved my life. I continue to keep doing that every day, keeping myself straight and narrow, and I make this sense of a change of thinking. I was out a couple of weeks ago and it was the first time I was out in a public environment. I was around people that were drinking. I was in situations where people were drinking, and it just didn’t even phase me because drink can often be a trigger point into me going to get Cocaine. My folks were maybe a bit nervous about it. But I said if I couldn’t do this, I wouldn’t do it. I came back home absolutely fine. I’ve had a whole change of thinking, where I know I don’t need this in my life to have a good life. And I don’t know about you, but when I finish my work on Saturday’s, I get buzzing to do nothing. Having that normality, not having to worry about anything, and being able to just chill, chill and watch a film, play games or stuff. And see when you’re working all week and then off for say two days, I always like the day that you finish before the two days off, if that makes sense. I just really like it because it means I’ve got the whole 2 days to look forward to.  I can just chill for the rest of my day. Sometimes it’s been difficult. I won’t lie, there’s nothing wrong with having the thoughts of doing it as long as you don’t act on that thought, and I don’t have that. And, I never thought id be saying no, never thought I’d be doing this. If you said to me when I was still using, do you want to do a podcast, id say no chance. And I’m just being honest, so its that whole change of thinking, and that’s where I’m at now. Its just saved my life and I’m eternally grateful for it.

Bekkah -  So obviously in that recovery portion aspect, obviously things have been going a lot better, so how is that relationship with your mum and dad now?

Chuck – Oh so much better. It’s the best relationship we’ve had in about 10 years. Especially with my dad, because my folks aren’t stupid. Yeah, it’s so much better. My dad said to me in the kindest way possible. My mum and dad never used; I mean they aren’t big drinkers. We were just talking about it because that’s the whole thing, you don’t realise this is an illness, but it is an illness. My dad said to me in the kindest way possible, you’re just built differently, and I didn’t even take any offence to that. I get where he’s coming from. Now, there’s a sense of trust there that I can feel. My mum and dad know for a fact that I am not using. And what a feeling that is, its just so much better, it’s the best. I tell you now, it’s the best it’s been in 10 years. I wish I started this programme when I started using, in hindsight it’s a wonderful thing, but its better late than never. The thing is with my mum and dad, its just so much better, starting to do things together, when I was using there was a point where my mum wouldn’t speak to me, I think it was just because I’m her boy. My dad, it just got to the point for months where when I walked down the stairs, he wouldn’t even talk to me, and I think for one of the times it went on for about 8 months, 8 months he never even spoke to me. The thing is, rightly so. I used to get called all names under the sun of my dad. Then, when he realised it was an illness, I think they thought I was doing in spite because I’m not well. But yeah, everything’s been good, we started doing things as a family, I can be there for my mum and dad, and openly talk about my addiction, and that’s the kind of things the programme helps you do. Theres nothing wrong with addiction in guys, talking is a good thing. I’ve got to that point, doing what I need to do, just being honest, and its honestly just the best way you can be. Even when you ask me things, there’s nothing that’s not on the table, everything is on the table. I can’t get the message across if I don’t be as honest as I can.

Maria – That was one of the main ideas with this podcast, discussing how important talking is. It breaks down the stigma that’s involved with addiction, and lets people feel that they are not alone. And people relate to a lot of stuff that you’ve spoken about. And feel that, they may not be ready right now, but eventually they might be.

Chuck – Yeah.

Bekkah – I’m curious though if school had taught you about APR and you understood that when you took your pay day loan, would you have taken the money looking back.

Chuck – That’s the thing, that’s a very good point. If I knew about APR, and I was heavily addicted to cocaine, I still don’t think I would have cared. But, if I was maybe using a couple of times and trying to get money, then seen APR, then that maybe would have been different. But, I do genuinely think that you are learning about that stuff, it could put you off. See places like loan companies, they want to get you into debt, that’s what they want. That’s the name of the game, but I think at the state I was in and if I knew about APR and stuff like that, I still would, 110%.

Maria – You make such a good point, that’s one thing I have always thought, you don’t learn about these things growing up, you don’t learn about the kind of value of money and getting stuff back. And I think as you say, if someone did have that education it could make a lot of changes. People might have a lot more sense and awareness with their money and how to get stuff and be more informed.

Bekkah - You know, the thing is you can make more informed decisions. Because you know what the APR is, doesn’t mean you don’t take the loan, but being aware makes it an informed decision. So, in a recovery point aspect, do we still utilise our 12 work steps everyday? You still utilise them and come to talking therapy, you still see Debbie.

Chuck – Yeah, so I’m still here seeing Debbie, even though I was still using. But you know the thing is, like, I even said this to Debbie, you, Maria, Bekah, this is a good place for me to go. I think personally for me, the help I was receiving, its not that it wasn’t good help, I just didn’t have enough other things. I still come here every Monday, from 10 to 11 and I’m not even thinking that I don’t need to come here and see Debbie. Just speaking with Debbie, speaking to yourself, doing this, this helps my recovery. I do this and I then do things like my 12-step programme and stuff then every Monday I do this as well, every Monday I go to a crisis centre in Glasgow and speak with other addicts and stuff. People that go, follow 12 step programmes, share their stories, share back and stud. I’ve been doing this a couple of months now. I’ve been doing this since January time and talking to folk in there and you know, I was sharing my story and people in there ranging between 18 to mid 60’s could relate to my story which is madness, and in a good way. Even when I hear people’s stories, I think, you aren’t alone. Even when I heard someone tell their story, I thought that person was just talking about me. And I’m not being all me, me, me, but doing this helps my recovery, especially doing the crisis centre as well. And I know people don’t ask for a sympathy vote, but I can’t help but feel sorry for people. And I think that’s just how I am as a person. But you know, its so helpful and the people that we see every Monday, they are eternally grateful, they make the choice whether to come to this or not. And the thing is, see the people that wee see, they do genuinely feel like there is no way out. Nobody but their own, and I was exactly the same six months ago. And now, I’m doing things I never thought id be able to do. Actually, I have always thought this, I have always said to Debbie, see what you do, I’d love to do this as a job in a heartbeat. I love doing it. Because I’m talking about it more with people, because it’s the same environment, its going to work the same as what I do in there, and I thought, I’m actually quite good at this.

Bekkah – I think you touched on something important there, that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what you do as a living, what car you drive, what colour you are, how old you are, it does not discriminate. I think as an education standpoint, if you’ve been lucky enough for your life not to be touched by addiction, I think it’s really important to remember sometimes. People have these preconceptions of what someone who is addicted to anything looks like.

Chuck – Theres that whole misconception where its like you know, because you use, that you are a down and out, you are a user, this is some of the terms I’ve been called, that’s just what people assume. So, there’s a whole stigma and people can be judgemental about it because if I hear someone’s story, I don’t know what they have went to get into that state, such as family trauma. People turn to drink, people turn to drugs, you know, then you get your casual users that just use and then they’ll be fine. Before I got into the state I was in, I used to just wish I could use to have a good time, but I had to have it and take it to the limit. Theres just that whole stick, which isn’t right. Who am I to judge anyone because of the state they are in, I don’t know, that’s just selfish and that is stereotyping. You just take care of you, and that’s fine fair enough, but at the end of the day, like if I was in a situation where people were doing stuff around me, id remove myself from that situation for selfish reasons because my sobriety comes first. I’m not saying it takes over my life, but I have to be cautious if you know what I mean. So I can’t put myself into situations like that, I’ve got too much to lose. And if I’m honest man, I’m too busy to relapse. I’ve got too much going on, but it’s the best way to be, I think. Keeping yourself busy. And I think personally for myself, I’m really into gaming and stuff. Takes my mind off it big time. Not that I’m thinking about it, but see when it’s the early stages, it takes my mind right off it. But I’ve got to the point where if I’m not doing stuff like that or if I’m just chilling, I can chill out without thinking about it.

Bekkah – I think that kind of takes me into my last question. You kind of tested the waters and went on a night out around that six month mark of your sobriety, and obviously we have had conversations in the past before, you were quite involved with the music scene and stuff like that. So if you were giving advice or information to someone who was in your shoes a couple of years prior, and they’re trying to navigate a social setting and still engage with their friends but remain abstinent from cocaine, what would your advice be for them?

Chuck – You know, like the absolute honest answer is if you’re even in the early stage and maybe you can cop with it at first and then see if it gets harder and harder, and people around you are still using, honestly the best way to do it is to cut them out. You need to cut those people out. Now the thing is I still spoke to my pals and stuff like that, but instead of going to social things, maybe doing something during the day, now that’s different. But if it’s a night out scenario and you’ve got pals that were maybe heavy users, the best thing for you especially if you’re early in your recovery, you have to cut them out. Because you’ll find that, or I’ve found that the people I’ve used with that I thought were my pals, really aren’t your pals at all. What I’ve found is that you’ll message they people and be like do you want to go for a scran? And they’ll be like no I’m busy, but if you asked do you want to get some gear they’d be like yeah, yes please and that’s the harsh reality of it. So like I said I think the best thing honestly is to cut them out. You have to cut them out, and it’s hard, and you could be cutting out people that you’ve known for years, it’s tough. But at the end of the day you’ll eventually meet other folk down the line. I know it might be harder when you’re in your mid 20s because you’ve been pals with folk for years but I’m just emphasising that you need to cut them out. Like I said, for me, I’m not risking my sobriety hanging around with people who use that are going to pull me in. So again, it can feel bad being selfish, but you’re being selfish for the right reasons. I’ve learned working the programme, if you’re selfish for the right reasons you cannot go wrong.

Maria - So obviously with any social environments being the ages that we are, we're all in our 20s. I think drugs are something that are getting more and more so nowadays or something are so normalised. It's very rare to be around people within the ages that we are and for somebody not to be using. So I think now they're getting less discreet, if you get what I mean. It's not something that people need to hide away and do. Like I'll be in a social environment, I see someone doing it right in front of me.

Chuck – It’s rife, its everywhere! Especially being in the music scene, right? So I like, obviously, you know, play drums in bands and stuff and you know, I don't do that now. I'd still make music. I've got a wee thing in my house where I can record and stuff like that and do my own thing. But the especially the music scene in general, it's rife. It's like, no, not even that. It's everywhere. Do you know what I mean? And hats of to people who go out with people who use and have no desire whatsoever. But the whole stigma there is that if you don’t use you’re a weirdo. If you don’t drink, you’re a weirdo. I know people who don’t drink at all, people may have had bad experiences one night and drink at all and it’s like hats off to you. But it's rife. It's everywhere and it's just that way, it does make you a bit angry. Do you know, I mean like I'm sorry for looking out for my own health. Do you know what I mean? Because I wouldn't even wish upon what happened to me to anybody else. And I know from my story it can is bad, but there's probably other people's stories that may be worse off than mine and they've came out on top as well. But I it's rife. It’s so easy to get it, so easy and its rife, absolutely everywhere man.

Maria – I think because of how rife it is, people might find it a bit more difficult to realise they’re struggling with it when they’re struggling with how much they’re using or how often because everyone around them is doing the same thing. They might think awk its okay because everyone is doing the same thing I’m doing. It might be a point where they don’t know what they need support for. Would you have any advice for anyone who is feeling like that? What they should do, or who they should speak to?

Chuck – Yeah, they should speak to someone – anyone! Someone that’ s worked a programme, somewhere like here RCA Trust just speak to someone. Even go to your GP, just explain it there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. See at the end of the day if you’re nipping it in the bud or feel like your struggling finding yourself in those environments, cut them out. You just need to be focusing on yourself and you can still chat to these people, but just remove yourself from those environments if it’s bringing you down. But I would say to speak to your GP, they can refer you to things like RCA Trust that can help you. I mean, when I came here for the first time first I spoke to someone who worked for like a drug thing for the NHS. And then I got a referral from here and I got a phone call. And then there’s always things online that can help you out. Theres nothing to be embarrassed about. As I said, I’m not embarrassed, I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t an addiction/ But just speak to someone it’s the best thing you can do. Saves your life man.

Bekkah – Back to what we always say, the first step is always the hardest. Taking that first step can make you feel really vulnerable to put your hands up and going – right I can’t control this anymore, can’t cope with this anymore. But actually, it’s quite empowering taking that first step to taking back control and making change. Have you got any parting words for us today Chuck?


Chuck – So obviously, I’m really big into my music right? And I love the Beatles, but an album I really like by George Harrison who was in the Beatles is called All Things Must Pass. I used to listen to it constantly in my recovery. There’s a line in that tune near the end that goes – its not aways going to be this grey. And I took that on like a mantra, because it’s not always going to be this grey. You improve on it and move on and that’s it. Big up George Harrison.

Bekkah – That is definitely going to be title for this months podcast – it’s not always going to be this grey. Love it, thank you for that.

Maria – We’ll thank you so much for coming on and talking to us Chuck. Fantastic to have you and amazing you’re approaching seven months.

Chuck – thank you, thank you so much

Maria – And if you’re in the Renfrewshire area and feel like you need support for alcohol or drug use or gambling, nationally then please contact the RCA TRUST on 0141 887 0880. You can also contact us through our website and on our various social media channels which I’ll list in the description.

Bekkah – So that’s all from us today folks, I’ve been Bekkah

Maria – I’ve been Maria

Chuck – And I’ve been Chuck.

Bekkah – And this has been the Get Well

Maria – Stay Well

Chuck – Move On

Bekkah – Podcast. We’ll see you all next month. Bye-bye

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