Hitting ‘oblivion’ – how addicts in Cumbernauld are turning their lives around

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 17:35 on 22 January 2015.
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Cocaine Anonymous Scotland helps people with addicitions to drink, drugs and painkillers. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.
ADDICTION, defined by the National Health Service as being “a strong, uncontrollable need to take drugs, drink alcohol or carry out a particular activity such as gambling” is perhaps one of the hardest conditions to battle in life. However, Cocaine Anonymous Scotland has spoken exclusively to Cumbernauld Media about how their fellowship is encouraging people addicted to everything from alcohol to painkillers to seek support and aim to overcome their condition.

Speaking to Cumbernauld Media’s Scott Campbell, one of the fellowship’s members spoke of how he previously used drink and drugs to hit “oblivion”, before discovering Cocaine Anonymous Scotland.

A 30-year-old salesman from Airdrie, the fellowship member told Cumbernauld Media: “I’ve been a member of the fellowship for two years; it was the first place I went to where I felt that I wasn’t judged or criticised, because people related to the same issues which I was and had been going through, and how low I had sunk.”

He explained how Cocaine Anonymous Scotland has set up a group in Cumbernauld, offering support to people in the local area who have additions to various substances, including among others things: alcohol, cocaine, heroin and painkillers. 

“The Cumbernauld group has, on average, ten members attending the weekly meetings; and, ultimately they maintain sobriety by putting in to the fellowship what they get out.”

He added: “The group gives people the opportunity to start opening their mouths, in a sympathetic environment, meaning they can be honest.”

The Airdrie resident – who we’ve chosen not to name for his own protection – spoke frankly to Cumbernauld Media about his own experience in battling addiction, as part of a special two part series on how addicts can and are trying to turn their lives around in Cumbernauld, after Police Scotland confirmed the seizure of nearly half a million pounds worth of cocaine and heroin in a house in the Eastfield area of Cumbernauld.

“Every person is different when it comes to addiction,” he explained. “I used to be a people pleaser when I younger; and, in the end it led me to lie about exam results. I began to become delusional, and I started believing my own lies, before I began abusing alcohol and drugs as a means to pull through.

“I kept telling myself ‘I’m only 21-years-old, I have time left’, then that became ‘I’m 22’, then ‘I’m 23’ and so on – it was a cycle,” he told our reporter. 

“My family would look out for me and pay off my debts. I would then have about two months clean before the drugs were put in front of me, and I would start over again – all before I hit what we call the ‘physical allergy’. 

“The fact is that you can be clean for 2 months or 2 years, but the second you get the substances back into your system, and you go back to where you started – you then start finding other ways to get your hands on the drugs.”

Speaking more of his own experiences of addiction – and the battle against it, he added: “It wasn’t until I started to think ‘I’m becoming morally, physically, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt’. It was then that I started being honest; I started being open with my sponsor, and as a result I’ve now been 14 months clean and sober.”

Founded in 2001, the first meeting of Cocaine Anonymous Scotland took place in Glasgow, and has since grown to boast up to 50 weekly meetings throughout Scotland, while the wider Cocaine Anonymous group spans the globe, offering support to addicts in a number of countries, including America, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Norway and Russia.

The fellowship’s work is much closer to home than most people would realise though, with weekly meetings held in various towns throughout Scotland – including here in Cumbernauld, our Cocaine Anonymous Scotland member explained.

He added: “The group in Cumbernauld allows its members to break through the speaking barrier – it’s fantastic for local members, and it’s helped me a lot too.”

In explaining how the fellowship helps its members, he outlined the Cocaine Anonymous’ ’12-step programme to recovery’, to our reporter.

“Based on somebody’s modern interpretation of the ‘Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous’, step one of the programme is to admit that we’re powerless and that our lives are unmanageable; steps two and three are about trying to comprehend a solution, and get a bit of space, while step four is about thinking of our fears and resentments. Step five is to share our wrongs with another person – mainly our sponsor, who has been through the process before. Steps six and seven thereafter are about giving this self-will over to a higher power; and, steps 8 and 9 are about making amends to the people we’ve wronged, while steps 10, 11 and 12 are ultimately about maintaining the sanity that has been restored to over lives.”

He added that being 14 months clean, he now “does service” on the Public Information Committee of Cocaine Anonymous Scotland to spread the message to sufferers that “every addiction is within our midst”, and that support is out there, despite “sensational news reports that never mention a solution”. 

According to Cocaine Anonymous Scotland’s website, the 12-step programme – as adapted from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous – encourages members to:

1. Admit we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Admit we’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. And, finally, after having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

For more information about Cocaine Anonymous Scotland you can visit their website, www.cascotland.org.uk or call their helpline on 0141 959 6363.
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