I am 26 but by the age of 13 I was a heroin addict.
It started when I was smoking cannabis in a friend’s house. He left
me alone for half an hour and I found some brown powder. I didn’t
know what it was but I had seen my friend put it on tinfoil and
burn it with a lighter. So I got a bit of tinfoil, poured out the
full contents of the bag, put a flame to it and there it was. I
The friend and me would put in £5 each for a tenner bag and it
led to the disaster my life became.
I started stealing from my family. It was little things at first,
such as video tapes, CDs and so on, but, as my habit grew, my
stealing got bigger – music systems and cameras, video players,
televisions. I even stole my mum’s wedding ring that she got off
her mother’s mother and that was the end. I was chucked out of the
house and started staying with friends but then I stole from them.
My habit was now bad but I didn’t care. I shoplifted to feed my
habit and ended up being sent to prison. It still didn’t hit me
that my life was a mess. I was 16.
After prison I went straight back to drugs and ended up in a hostel
in Glasgow city centre. But my habit was so bad that I couldn’t pay
my rent – only a fiver a week but that’s a tenner a fortnight and
that was another bag of smack, as every penny I got went on it.
I was evicted from the hostel and started sleeping and walking the
streets. It was alright to start with as I had made a lot of
friends on the streets who took care of me until I did them wrong.
I owed them money and ran away. So I ended up with another group
and that’s when things somehow managed to get even worse.
Every night I started breaking into cars and offices and by the
time the police captured me I had broken into more than 30 cars and
29 offices. I was sent to Barlinnie prison for 18 months.
I did my time but still hadn’t learned my lesson. I went straight
back on the drug scene.
I was breaking into offices and, instead of buying heroin, I was
buying cocaine. Then I was put on methadone and that’s when my life
started to change. I was mentally broken from all the hurt I had
done to my family and friends and everybody I stole from, but the
staff at Glasgow’s London Road project got me through it. They
treated me with respect and I never had that and that’s what made
me carry on and believe I’d get there.
Now I have been clean for 18 months. The past is still with me as I
am writing this in my prison cell. I told the police everything
that I had done so that when I get out I will have had a couple of
years clean and I can start a new life.
James Simpson is a recovering drug user and is on remand in
Barlinnie prison, Glasgow