Cam's story

It all started when I was 12 years old. My Dad was a very angry person. I got the brunt of it. He beat me black and blue most days. It was very hard for me to understand that this was my Dad's way of showing love.

This went on until I was 14 years old and I ran away to London. I felt very frightened of the thought of the big city. Living on the streets was hard so I started smoking cannabis. Cannabis stopped working so I went on to take speed. I lived a very angry life with begging and stealing. In the end I was sent to prison where I found heroin.

I went to my first NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting in Prison. I hated it at first. I felt the people were talking rubbish and the God word freaked me out. But I went lower and lower over time with my addiction to the point where I was willing to try anything so I went back to NA with an open mind and changed my life for good. The more I went, the more I found that the people were almost the same as me. NA gave me hope and an understanding of my addiction. Today I am happy and living the NA and AA lifestyle. The 12 step way is the only way for me.

After a bad break up with my long-term partner having lost my house, car and dog, I completely lost the plot I became homeless and being an emotional wreck I began drinking heavily to try and numb my pain. I would wake up to a Special Brew and say goodnight to one. It was so bad my stomach shrunk so I was I was unable to eat properly, yep the liquid diet!

I managed to contact Street Services (respect to Gerry) and was introduced to O'Hanlon House Emergency Accommodation. It was not for me and only compounded my problems being surrounded by fellow 'pissheads'. I managed three sleepless nights there, owed to the fact that us newcomers shared rooms and to say the least drinkers narf snore!

From there I moved to my allotment shed, even building an extension to include a kitchen area. It was rather cosy with a bespoke bed, radio, television, lighting, fresh running water and cooker. To earn money to support my alcoholism during the summer I would fill up a cool box with ice and cheap drink from the legendary 'Deli' grog shop on the Cowley Road and resell them in the parks of Oxford. I've been homeless before, travelled around Europe armed only with juggling batons and Oxford is an easy town to survive in.

But the reality of the situation was that I would cry myself to sleep every night for months and was seriously considering committing suicide. I have never been so low, feeling that life on Earth was too painful, pointless and that I would never recover from this mindset.

‘Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before’ - I was really questioning that one.

Gerry from Street Services then hooked me up with Julian Housing and after the interviews I was given a room with them. I was still really f**cked up, but kept convincing myself that now I was on the road to a Council House, ie. a Headquarters to centre productiveness I was on easy street. I began setting unobtainable goals in my mind and on the frustration of not being able to meet them, would become depressed. This was an ideal opportunity to drown my sorrows in drink. This became a revolving pattern which steadily become worse.

I'd get legless, make a real tw*t out of myself, play loud music into the AM and my room would get trashed. Plus I'd stopped eating again and couldn't see that I'd ever control my chaotic mind and lifestyle.

And all through this my Key Worker Gemma was in support. I would try and not attend Key Working sessions because of guilt, embarrassment and feeling downright rotten! I can't thank Gemma and the other Julian Housing staff enough for their genuine concern and tolerance of me during this time. They really do care; but I think you got to show willing or how else can they help.

I needed a real kick up the bum and thankfully it materialised in the form of an official warning. The last of which was a contract I had to sign. No loud music, no drinking, keep room tidy etcetera. I knew that if I didn't tow the line I would be evicted. If I was kicked out of Julian Housing not only was it stepping backwards, but ruining my best chance of moving on.

Sobering up was agony with sleepless nights, sweats, paranoia, depression and a constant feeling of low self-esteem, but it did get better slowly day-by-day. Throughout this period I pretty much locked myself in my room, there's no way I could have done it homeless.

So here I am now, sober, positive and maintaining a regular routine. I'm not setting my goals too high or long-term - just concentrating on the real issue, my alcoholism. I'm now participating in sports and intellectual hobbies, which is giving me structure and alleviating the boredom which tempts me to drink. One day at a time they say!

I've tried to keep it short. to the point; if you the reader can relate to any of this please have a really good head shake and evaluate your position whilst in Julian Housing. If you're here you're probably starting from scratch and Julian Housing is the best place to be for that. Don't f**k it up: it's our best chance!

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