Former North Wales Drug Addict Helps Others Beat the Habit

A father-of-two whose drug addiction ruined his life and left him on the brink of suicide has received a special award from a policing czar.

Pictured presenting the Rehabilitation Awards to the North Wales Recovery Community of Bangor, is North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones with, from left, Deputy Commissioner Ann Griffith, Stephanie Jones, Marc Yates, James Deakin, Dave Murray, John Redican, winner of the Recovery Award, and Kevin Morris.

After three decades of drug use, 47-year-old John Redican has now turned his life around having been clean for almost two years and is now playing his part in helping others to steer clear of addiction.

He was presented with the Recovery Award at North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones’ Community Awards event at the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarfon.

John, originally from Manchester, was able to make his recovery and rebuild relationships with his loved ones thanks to the Bangor-based North Wales Recovery Community.

The charity, which offers a therapeutic day programme as well as abstinence-based housing facilities for up to 20 people, saw their unique work rewarded with trustee James Deakin being presented with the Supporting Recovery Award.

Arfon Jones said: “These are truly great examples of people with lived experience of the problems of addiction making a massive difference to people suffering from drug abuse.

“It is so inspiring to see that after 30 years of drug abuse that someone like John Redican is now free of it and is helping others on the path to recovery.

“Those with life experience are invariably the best at supporting others because they’ve lived it and the rest of us have to learn it.”

John, who has two daughters, Naomi, 16, and Savannah, three, says drug addiction took hold of his life, destroyed it and then left him contemplating suicide before he sought help in North Wales back in September 2016.

He said: “I started taking drugs 30 years ago. For the first 15 years it wasn’t a problem, I was taking them when I was socialising.

“But the drug use crept up on me and began stopping me from working. I worked as a scaffolder and it started to become dangerous.

“I lost a lot of jobs. The drugs became so important. I needed it more than I wanted it.

“It took over my life and it ruined it. Even having kids, that wasn’t enough. My eldest daughter disowned me and I just thought I’ll carry on then. It does have that hold on you.”

He added: “Amphetamines were my main thing but it got to a point when I was staying in London and I was using GHB, liquid ecstasy and crystal meth.

“I had a stint on that and I was blacking out. I woke up once and had cut my head open.

“It had taken over me and I’d lost everything. I had nothing left and I knew enough was enough.

“I decided to move from Manchester to North Wales and I was put in touch with James at North Wales Recovery Community.

“He asked me my story and within two weeks I’d moved in. I must admit I did think it would be the same as anywhere else as I have tried to recover in the past.

“But it’s not rehab, it’s a recovery hub. You don’t get told what to do. You build the foundation for your own recovery and since I’ve been here it’s changed my life.

“It’s given me full time work as a substance misuse coordinator and I do voluntary work.

“You have that understanding. You can tell people you’re not alone, I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve lost everything and almost my life.”

John, who has now graduated from the main house to one of the charity’s ‘move on’ units, has been elected chairman of North Wales Service User Forum so he is able to pass on the message of recovery to others.

Not only has his inspiring story led to him winning an award, most importantly he has also been able to develop a relationship with his daughters.

John said: “I was a little bit in awe of everyone at the awards ceremony. Obviously I was very proud and shocked to win an award.

“But the award is for everyone who has helped me because you can’t do it on your own.

“I now see Savannah every couple of weeks and speak to Naomi every day.

“She’s coming down to stay with me for a week soon which is amazing because once she wouldn’t have even acknowledged me in the street.

“My two best friends are my ex-partners. They used to hate my guts but I’m building bridges.

“I’m now in a relationship with an amazing girl who knows everything about me and doesn’t question it.

“I came to North Wales as an open book after everything else I’d tried had failed.

“One thing this journey has taught me is I’ve got recovery now and it’s time to give it to other people.

“Taking your kids to the park or going for a family meal, that’s a high. You don’t need anything else.”

James Deakin, who himself has been in recovery from drug addiction for 15 years, launched North Wales Recovery Community with a group of friends back in 2015.

He said: “We provide an open access recovery hub for recovery from substance misuse and we can have up to 80 people at any one time on the programme. About 60 per cent of people we engage with sustain long term recovery.

“Traditionally no one does it the way we do. People can fund the residential element through housing benefits so there is never a waiting list or barriers such as searching for funding.

“The project was designed to plug the gap. We had to provide unique provision to secure funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.

“The team are all individuals who have been through it themselves. It provides that automatic identification and a positive role model.

“As addicts we like to feel sorry for ourselves and think ‘what do you know about my story?’. I always say sit down and you’ll hear it’s probably similar to yours.”

James, who is originally from Manchester, added: “We’re living proof that people can get well and lead happier lives than before.

“I moved to North Wales 20 years ago. I’d got into a lot of trouble with drink and drugs and moved here to start again.

“I was lucky, I didn’t need to get formal treatment. Once I got myself clean I worked as a chef.

“But all I’ve known in my life is drugs and offending. These are my people and I wanted to help.”

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