How a recovery charity helped a man battling a 26-year-long drug addiction avoid being put 'six feet under' by connecting him with a new-found passion for cookery

  • Without parents around, Andy turned to drugs to feel 'accepted by others'
  • His 26-year-long addiction ended after an altercation left him hospitalised
  • But with help from Double Impact, Andy has used a new-found passion for cookery to move forward with his life

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 14:49, 20th Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 12:35, 30th Oct 2017

Feeling at a Loss

Andy battled a 26-year drug addiction with cannabis and other Class A drugs from age 14 onwards

The reasons leading to drug and alcohol dependency can be complex and intricate – with research suggesting these type of addictions are most commonly a response to traumatic or difficult life events, particularly during childhood. 

For Andy, this appeared to be the case.

Without a mother or father present in his life, Andy felt at a loss. He also felt like he lacked help and guidance – and it was these feelings that led to his initial use of drugs at the age of 14. 

‘Cannabis was my ticket to being accepted by other people,’ explains Andy, talking to the Double Impact website. ‘I ended up having an addiction for 26 years, through using cannabis and Class A drugs.’

‘I also developed mental health problems and was diagnosed as bi-polar. My rock-bottom was at the age of 39 when I ended up in hospital again, with a punctured lung, having been beaten up by a drug dealer. I’d had enough.’

Tackling Recovery

Once he’d made the decision to get clean and sober, Andy checked himself into a rehab in Nottingham. It was here where he had his first assessment with Double Impact – a charity who offer a unique service to help recovering individuals ‘break the devastating cycle of addiction’.

‘Whilst at Double Impact I completed several short courses and became a volunteer, helping staff to deliver group sessions,’ Andy recalls. He then decided to look ahead at what he could achieve with a brand new future in front of him.

‘My next goal was to do a course in professional cookery at college. Once I had started this, Izzy and Hannah at Recovery Recruitment told me about the volunteering opportunities at Cafe Sobar and encouraged me to apply. 

'I worked as a volunteer trainee assistant chef at Cafe Sobar for 6 months, prepping and cooking food. It was brilliant – I really enjoyed it.’

Cafe Sobar opened in 2013 and provides an alcohol-free environment for regular recovery groups and other events

Double Impact's Cafe Sobar initiative was launched with help from the Big Lottery Fund, and functions as a friendly and welcoming alcohol-free ‘hub’ in the heart of Nottingham. 

It helps individuals like Andy get on the employment ladder – as well as providing a social space for those in recovery to converse with those in similar situations to themselves.

"If it wasn’t for [the staff] and for this project I don’t know where I’d be – probably 6 feet under."

- Andy

The Future

Andy loved the time he spent volunteering at the cafe, and is now earning a wage at his position there. ‘I have been working for them part-time and am being paid for it!' says Andy. 'I’m not in it for the money – it’s the satisfaction of knowing that people have enjoyed the food I’ve prepared.’

‘I’m now doing a NVQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery and have a work experience placement at Hart’s restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Nottingham. I hope to go on and find full time work in an established restaurant and maybe even set up my own business in time.’

Andy remains incredibly grateful for the help provided to him by Double Impact’s independence and wellbeing services. ‘My work as a chef has given me a life, it’s given me a purpose. I’ve not had many opportunities in my life, but I’ve been given this chance to turn things around and I’m not going to waste it.’

‘Thank you to all the staff – if it wasn’t for them and for this project I don’t know where I’d be – probably six feet under.’

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.