Action for Homeless

From the Blog

Being homeless and taking heroin in St Albans

From my experiences of being homeless & dependant on drugs & alcohol, I found it to be stressful, fearful & challenging most days out there on the streets. Every 24hours that passed felt like a huge struggle & battle with depression & destruction. No one in their right mind would want to live a life as a homeless drug addict, but then I wasn’t in my own mind. I felt powerless, like I had no other choice, heroin simply had to come first & the fear of possibly going without this drug I so desperately needed physically, mentally & emotionally. My first waking thought was heroin & my need for it was stronger than any of my other basic needs, without this drug I would suffer from withdrawals, feel so sick & completely exhausted. I was neglecting myself & my health, I wasn’t eating much & within a short space of time I was losing everything & everyone around me.

In order to raise the much needed money to fund & feed my habit within the first 4-6months I turned to shoplifting which consequently resulted in 2 court appearances, I was edging closer to a return to prison after having not reoffended for the previous 5years. I would see other homeless people sitting down begging for money I presumed then was towards drugs & or alcohol maybe. I was part of the homeless community in Luton & after hearing how much money could be made from begging, I simply needed the money for my own addiction so I began sitting & begging myself. I would spend up to 16hours begging each day to get the money I needed. When I look back, reminding myself of that vicious cycle I was stuck in for 3years of my life it seemed as if it was a job 2 me back then. I continued to self-medicate with heroin as it was what I needed & was my everyday routine, it was simply all I had known, I was living everyday like a hustle & struggle. I would use heroin to drown out & numb all the intense & all consuming thoughts, feelings & fears I had kept hidden inside for so long. In reality I was traumatised & would seek solace in using this powerful & damaging drug!

After nearly 2years of being homeless, I felt I had to get away & go somewhere else. I left Luton for St Albans City in search of more money I could make from the generous St Albans community. I would chat with many people & the first thing I would say to them is that i wasn’t a drug user, although I was well aware of the problems I had, I guess i was still in denial with myself. Through begging I would make up to £100-£150 a day, which contributed hugely towards my heroin addiction. I was using & spending more money on heroin as my habit was gradually getting a lot worse & becoming more problematic, my life was totally unmanageable. I had no self-respect for myself at all & some of the looks I would get from members of the public were beginning to hit me more & more as time went by. This would really hurt me as what right did anyone have to feel the need to judge me when they didn’t know anything about me or my life. Nobody knew the struggles & problems I had to face & endure from the past & present on a day to day basis.

Everyday I would be approached by local outreach workers who would ask me why I was still choosing to live rough & I would tell them it was best I stayed out on the streets as I didn’t really have much choice, my habit was too strong. As time went by, I was more aware of my addiction & had gained more acceptance around it. I was completely broken & felt now was the time something had to happen, I needed to implement changes in my life. I was approached by a local lady in St Albans City whilst I was sitting begging for money, we spoke about my situation & how I could begin treatment for my addiction by going on a methadone script. This kind lady wanted to help me, I felt I could trust her & she invited me into her home as I began attending appointments at a local drug/alcohol support centre & at this point I was waiting for a phone call to move into a nightshelter. I felt a strong connection with this lady & now I think of her like a mum.

I am now almost 1year into my sobriety & I’m looking forward to starting college in September. I am now actively involved in a fantastic group ST ALBANS ACTION FOR HOMELESS.

Wayne Odell

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