CEO and peer supporter

Sean Robinson

Why does addiction matter to you?

I’m 12 years clean from drugs and sober from alcohol. I was 48 when I finally admitted I was an addict and changed my life. It began with asking for help and starting the process of acceptance. Since then I’ve seen the worst of what addiction can do (jails, institutions and, too often, death). It’s heart-breaking. I believe many more can be helped with the right support and resources.

What’s it like being dependent on drugs or alcohol?

Being powerless over using drugs or drinking something that long ago stopped being fun (if it every truly was) and knowing that I needed it to function, to cope, even to survive, is a horrendous, shaming and desperate way to live.

What’s your worst memory of addiction?

I’m not sure I can bring myself to list the depths I went to. I’ll leave it as waking up either consumed with paranoia or immobilised by a gnawing bolus of fear in my gut that only vodka or drugs would take away – temporarily, of course, until the next time.

What’s your best memory of recovery?

Grateful to say there are many! Collecting my fist 30-day clean chip at an NA meeting is up there but I’ll go for writing a novel. Objectively and being honest, it’s not great – I’ve had ten rejections from publishers. Subjectively, it’s wonderful and I love it! I learned that action is everything. It didn’t get written fantasising about doing it but literally putting pen to paper. There is no way I would have ever finished it while rattling down booze and coke, pretending to myself I needed them to be creative – utter, utter rubbish! It was a lie I told myself to protect my supply.

What can our charity do about the problem?

We try and help those who are struggling but don’t have the funds to get private treatment or who have got lost in the system. Having two trustees with lived experience of addiction means we can connect with clients quickly and understand what they’re going through.

What does society need to do?

The most obvious thing is to provide more statutory resources but at a broader level it would help to bust some of the myths around addiction. The idea that it’s just the ‘park bench drunk’ or the ‘street heroin user’ is nonsense. Addiction touches anyone, from any background or walk of life. If society appreciated that, it might help to take away the stigma and allow more people to seek recovery without shame. Garry and I run addiction awareness sessions; get in touch if interested.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s struggling?

Ask for help. Accept that you can’t do this on you own. Take action. For me, I had to redefine what strength means – move away from grit, determination and battling towards acceptance, patience and tolerance.