My name’s Leigh, I live in Wiltshire and my son’s a homeless drug addict. Welcome to my new blog! Ryan has been using drugs since he was a teenager. He’s now 35, been to prison several times and this is his sixth year of homelessness. Living through the last 20 years has been kind of like going to hell in a handcart with no chance of getting off. Loving an addict is the most heart breaking, hopeless place to be. You can’t deal with it but you can’t seem to escape it either. With drug-related deaths at an all-time high in England and Wales, addiction is one of the worst problems facing families and society. Living in hope that my son doesn’t end up as a statistic, let me tell you a bit about the start of his problems.
Things began to go wrong for Ryan at the age of four when his dad left us, never looking back. I still can’t work out how someone can walk away from their children so easily; funny old life. While his younger brother was always happy, Ryan wasn’t and he quickly started having nightmares and showing behaviour problems. In the 80s taking your child for some sort of therapy wasn’t that common and anyway, I thought with plenty of love, routine and discipline he’d be OK. We lived in a nice house with his nan and grandpa just round the corner. They were brilliant, so hands-on, taking both boys to football, hockey and chess clubs. We’d have pizza and videos every Friday, go for picnics at weekends and socialise a lot with friends and their kids. What could possibly go wrong? 30 years later I’m still asking myself the same question. But things went spectacularly wrong, the first run in with the law happening when Ryan was just 13. He and a friend beat up another boy who they said had been nasty to a local girl. They ended up in Magistrates’ Court but were let off with a conditional discharge. Ryan was grounded for a month and lost all privileges but he’d already stepped on the track that he’s still on today.
So looking back on your addict’s life, or listening to what their family might have told you, were they showing signs of going down the wrong road early on? Tell me when the wheels started coming off for your loved one.