OPINION: Drug users have an illness and need support, says ex-addict

The concept of addiction and drug abuse. Syringe against the background of an addict experiencing a

Drug users don't need vilifying, says former user Rick - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Recovering drug user Rick* says more understanding is needed for people struggling with addiction

I am an addict in recovery and have been reading the stories around the great work being done to tackle the blight of addiction in Norwich and the frustrations and fears of the residents that have and continue to be affected. 

There’s no excuse for people defecating in doorways. It’s disgusting and not necessary. However there’s a number of issues at play here. Heroin withdrawal can causes you to lose your bowels, the hit of crack cocaine can do the same and when you become an addict the only thing you think about is getting that into you and planning what to do to get your next fix. 

It changes you as a person and along with the criminal aspect is not a life it’s an existence.  

Everyone has a right to live in safety and without fear of people loitering in the doorway/stairwells. It’s anti-social behaviour and should be dealt with accordingly. 

These are people, real people and from all walk of life that for whatever reason have found themselves ensnared in the endless cycle of addiction. 

When people go into tower blocks they aren’t looking for trouble. Just somewhere to use and they won’t hang about. If they do then I would advise to call the police.

The whole issue needs changing from a social problem to an actually recognised disability covered by the DDA.

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There needs to be more impetus on treatment, education (I’ve shared my life story with teenagers before) and prevention rather than vilifying those that have an illness. 

I’m very pleased that the police have been given extra money to tackle county lines and the recent disruption to the supply in the Norwich.

If I was a judge I’d throw away the key on Class A dealers - it would be good, too, if they knew what it was really like to be constantly in withdrawal.

I’ve been fighting with mine pretty much all my life. With years of abstinence only to find myself back to square one. 

But it’s not like the last time where you start off with a little bit, you're back to the level you were taking when you stopped within days/a week if you haven’t overdosed. 

This is not a lifestyle that you would choose to get into, it’s so easy to fall into and I don’t care what anyone says, cannabis really is a gateway drug for some people. 

* Not his real name