Charity staff – much like pharmacists – do the job we do because we enjoy helping people. And one of the things that picks us up on a busy, stressful day is hearing from a beneficiary – someone we’ve been able to support through a difficult situation. A few months ago, one of our service users shared with us a significant anniversary. He had been 8 years clean & in recovery. We decided this needed to be celebrated! And always keen to follow the journeys of our service users, we caught up with ‘John’ (fake name) to pick up on his ‘Journey of Recovery’.
Pharmacist Support has been the silver thread that has run through my life, from my first contact in 1994 to the last time in treatment in 2011 and through to the present. PS never said no to me, they were always there during the numerous treatments I had, to support me. It didn’t end when I came out of treatment in 2011, I was unemployed earning no money, State help was not forthcoming, and our savings were severely depleted. PS gave us a small grant every month that went a long way and made the difference between living and existing. They also arranged for my wife to speak to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Manchester to explore any additional source of money that we might be entitled to. This produced a grant for my son whilst he was at University to help him buy books, as we could not afford it. As part of the recovery of the family, PS sent my wife away to a residential course to explore what it was like to live with a person who has a substance use disorder, and how they may help that person.
Whilst I had been in treatment I was impressed by the way that, as part of the therapeutic process, people, after leaving stayed in touch to help one another. I discussed this idea with PS. They arranged for me to have training as a telephone conference facilitator, with the idea of forming a telephone conference of pharmacists who had been in treatment wanting to stay in touch to share problems, before they escalated out of control leading to a relapse. PS pay for our teleconferences and it has been a great success, especially with pharmacists who are meeting both the police and the GPhC for the first time. They are invariably bewildered and unsure. Older members of the group can set their minds at ease, as we use our own experiences to help them. As well as the teleconference, PS organise a face to face meeting of pharmacists in recovery every year and this is an eagerly awaited event. Pharmacists can make as much use of these services as they want, some don’t, that’s OK, but we, like PS are always there.
The life my wife and I lead now could be described as “not like it used to be”. We both have an enduring desire to pass on our experiences to those pharmacists out there who are still suffering. I remember what it was to be alone, thinking you were the only pharmacist in the whole world doing what you were doing. I felt a great shame that I had let down my profession. Thus, I volunteer for PS, to help spread the message that PS is there for pharmacists in times of need. Some may not want to be helped, content in their drinking and drugging. That’s OK. When they need help, I tell them to pick up the phone to PS and just say “Help” PS will do the rest.
Outside of PS our lives have become fulfilling. We are both able to indulge in hobbies that would have been inconceivable when I was using. I do a little pharmacy work to help with expenses. My wife is very active in Families Anonymous providing help to the families of drug users.
If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating disorders or any other dependency and could use some help please contact our addiction support helpline on 0808 168 5132.