'You don't start as a tramp': Horror stories as base for addicts opens
PUBLISHED: 17:48 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 17 October 2019
It has been hailed as a place of hope and safety for recovering drug and alcohol addicts.
And after a year-long £1m regeneration project, a former science laboratory has been transformed into a warm and welcoming hub.
The Next Steps base on Oak Street, Norwich, run by the Matthew Project, will help support recovering drug and alcohol addicts through its six-week Recovery Support Programme.
It features an art room, woodwork studio, group therapy space, counselling room, sensory area, computer suite, exercise studio, café and kitchen.
Graham Parfitt, recovery hub manager, said: "What we offer is hope. Before we set up the hub there was nowhere like this in Norfolk for recovering alcoholics or drug addicts. There is potential to support even more people through the hub. Addiction is fatal."
To access the Recovery Support Programme, as well as other Next Steps centre projects visit www.matthewproject.org/nextsteps or call 01603 981686.
■Cameron Taylor, 53, from Stody near Holt, previously lived a successful life as a creative director of a design company.
But three years ago, after more than 30 years of severe alcohol addiction, he deliberately set fire to himself - which he survived.
Mr Taylor's relationship with alcohol started as social drinking aged 18.
"Client entertainment, drinking at lunchtime and going out after work was part and parcel of the job and alcohol just crept in. You don't start off as a tramp with a brown paper bag in a churchyard. It is a progressive disease. Alcohol takes everything from you. It took away my relationships, two wives, house and cars."
He used alcohol to mask his problems and described his condition as a curse that took him to dark places as well as impacting on his physical health.
Mr Taylor lost his job seven years ago because of his alcoholism and went through 11 sessions of rehab over 20 years.
He used to drink on average a bottle and half of brandy and a few cans of cider a day.
Mr Taylor, who hopes to go into career into creative advertising again, said: "The recovery programme has improved my life beyond compare. It gives you belief in your life."
The last time he drank alcohol was about six months ago.
■Karen Hamilton, 35, from Sandy Lane in Dereham, snorted her first line of cocaine aged 19 while working in a Reading bar.
And after 10 years of a party lifestyle, which involved regularly taking cocaine and ketamine, her life ended up in a path of destruction.
She stopped taking drugs for one year while pregnant with her son, now aged five, but took up drug taking after his birth when her relationship with her child's father ended.
Miss Hamilton, who ended up working as an electroscience production technician, moved to Dereham in 2018 after finishing drug rehabilitation.
She said: "Addiction destroys things. People don't trust you. You get to the point where you cannot look at yourself in the mirror."
She said that without rehab and the help of the support programme, she would be dead.
"I was suicidal. I didn't want to be here."
Miss Hamilton, who recently started a job, last took drugs on October 2018.
She advised anyone addicted to drugs or alcohol to get help.
"You are not alone."
Miss Hamilton added: "The hub is amazing. There is something for everyone. It is precious."
She hoped to carry on creative writing, a skill she picked up at the hub, and described life as "beautiful".
■A former Recovery Support Programme participant has started a year's internship at the hub to support recovering addicts.
But 14 years ago, Kay Arnold, 30, from Dereham, snorted her first line of cocaine in a club which made her feel invincible.
Miss Arnold said: "That feeling soon goes. I would use drugs continuously for four days and be out cold for three days. That cycle continued until it took over every aspect of my life. It took over my finances, relationships as well as mental and physical health."
She spent over £50,000 on drugs, forcing her into debt, and in her final year of addiction she started drinking excessively.
Her addiction caused her to lose her job as a commercial and insurance underwriter at NFU Mutual.
Miss Arnold, who completed rehab, said: "I feel free, valued and loved now. I am the person I was meant to be. The recovery hub is somewhere safe where there is no judgement."
She has abstained from taking any illicit substances for nearly two years.