‘I honestly thought I’d never do it. I used to frown upon drug users and addicts. But when I became one I understood. No one can understand unless they’ve been through addiction.’

Meet Shumon. He’s 36. He used to be a heroin addict.

‘I never thought it would happen to me,’ he told us when we sat down to hear his story. ‘I had a relative that was a user which put me off. No-one would have believed I would go down that route.’

Things began after Shumon spent some time in Bangladesh. ‘I stayed in a village that had a heroin epidemic. Everyone was using it. I tried it a couple of times and I was OK. I smoked it for 3-6 months but I easily stopped.

‘I told my mates, I can quit easily. So I did it again for another few months, but I found it harder to get off this time.

‘I had to get off it because I was coming back to the UK and I didn’t know where to get it, and so I stayed off it for two years. But I then met someone who was a heroin user so now I had access again.

‘We’d get together after work every day to smoke, but I stopped again after a few months until we met up again, and this carried on for a couple of years.’

‘Every time I quit, it was for my family.’

Soon, Shumon had also discovered crack cocaine. It too began to take over his life.  ‘I honestly thought I’d never do it,’ he says.

‘I used to frown upon drug users and addicts. But when I became one I understood.  No one can understand unless they’ve been through addiction.’

With the support of his family, Shumon managed to stop using – but it wasn’t straightforward.  ‘My biggest problem was going to Bangladesh. Every time I’d go, I’d come back with a habit. It was pretty crazy. 

‘Withdrawal is much harder over here. I tried rehab in Bangladesh which helped. I came back straight away so I wasn’t tempted and I thought it was over, but after a few months I’d be back on it.’

Shumon’s family continued to encourage him to break free of his addiction. ‘I realised that every time I quit, it was for my family. I spent time in jail for intent to supply and this was a real wake up call. It made me think “what am I doing?”

‘I thought about what I was doing to my family, my wife and kids. I tried really hard and did my best, but relapsed when I came out.’

‘Stronger’

Shumon recently decided it was time to change his future, and renew his efforts to get away from the drugs that have dominated his life for over a decade.

‘I decided to do it for myself, so I knew I was ready and this really helps. I recognise the damage I’ve done and how I could have done so much better. I can see how much money I’ve spent and what I’ve destroyed.’ 

Shumon attended the Community Addiction unit, which helped him withdraw, and staff there recommended he contact Recovery Cymru for support. He also took part in Footsteps to Recovery, and the NewLink Wales MILE course.

‘These courses were a huge help,’ he says. ‘They helped me see things in a different way and helped me understand myself, even how to talk to people. They explained what addiction and relapse are, and gave me the skills to prevent it. 

‘They’ve made me stronger.’

‘I’m not giving up’

11 months into his recovery, Shumon is now confident in his future.  ‘I’m able to say no now.  I couldn’t do that before. The longest I’d gone without using was 6 months but I’m now feeling really positive. I’m doing it for myself and feel strong enough to maintain it.

‘I’m so grateful to my mum and dad for standing by me even though they didn’t understand. I’ve been with my wife for 15 years but how she’s stayed by me I’ll never know. But they’re happy. I’m happy. 

‘I’ve done well, but I know I have a long road ahead and need to keep positive.’

Shumon is now looking forward to the future he’s worked so hard to reclaim. ‘I feel I’ve lost 15 years of my life which I can’t get back, but I’m going to try and I’m not going to give up. The courses have prepared me and given me a coping mechanism. 

‘I want to do good now, and not go back. I’m going to start volunteering as soon as I can.’