'I didn't want to be that person around my twins' - former addict on turning his life around

  • ITV Wales correspondent Carole Green reports from Deeside.

  • This report discusses issues which some people might find distressing such as substance misuse and addiction.


A veteran from Deeside who was addicted to cocaine and alcohol has opened up about turning his life around while his wife was pregnant with twins.

James Hunt has been reaching out to people struggling with their addictions, urging them to seek help at the start of the new year.

He said: "I've had days where I haven't wanted to be here. I reached a point where I wouldn't have cared If I had been wiped out by a bus.

"I just got sick and tired of making the same mistake over and over again and I just didn't think I had a way out."

James admits he's had some "dark times" and says he used his addictions to numb himself through them.

He said: "Waking up. Sniffing cocaine and doing that throughout the day. Then drinking because I was so paranoid and edgy. Then I couldn't sleep and repeat, repeat, repeat.

"I would only stop because I felt ill and as soon I felt better again I'd repeat it.

"As soon as you stop taking those substances the realisation of your life kicks in. Because you hijack the way that you feel in order to feel good, your dopamine levels are completely gone.

"So the only way to remotely feel any pleasure at all is by drinking or taking cocaine. It's a good way of numbing the reality of your situation."

James' wake-up call came when his wife fell pregnant with their twins.

James joined the army to get away from his addictions but after suffering an injury in 2013 he had to leave.

This led him back to using again. But he describes his path to being substance-free as a "spiritual" one.

He uses profits from his heating business, CIC Cafgas, to support Nanny Biscuit food pantry as well as services for veterans and drug users.

He said: "I went straight back to the only way I knew how to deal with it and that was to numb it out.

"My wife was pregnant with twins and I just knew I didn't want to be that person around my twins.

"I wanted them to be proud of me. I wanted to be proud of me. That was the turning point for me and I just took action".

He continued: "You have to cut people out of your life and take drastic action. If you want to be someone different you have to do different things.

"There was lots of ups and downs but as of the 29th of April 2019, that was the last time [I used cocaine or alcohol]."

"I went to Africa and spent some time with a tribe there. It sparked something in me and made me realise you can have so little and yet have so much.

"On the return home from that place I just never touched alcohol or cocaine again. I found myself."

The first point of contact many substance users will have when seeking help for their addiction is Wales' day and night helpline - DAN 24/7.

More than a third of people who contact DAN 24/7 do so because they are looking for help with alcohol misuse. Credit: DAN 24/7

37% of all contacts to the service are for alcohol misuse while cocaine makes up 13% of all contacts.

Luke Ogden from the service said: "The first step is always the hardest and that's admitting you've got an issue.

"The second step is knowing what services are out there to help. We have access to services across all of Wales.

"If someone wants a face-to-face service they can give us a ring and we can put them in touch with that.

"If someone doesn't want to speak with anyone but still wants that help they can go to our website."

Worried about mental health?

MIND

Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

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CALM

CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – open from 5pm to midnight every day, for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

  • Phone their helpline: 0800 585858 (Daily, 5pm to midnight)

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PAPYRUS

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

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SAMARITANS

Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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YOUNG MINDS

YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals.

It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

  • Phone Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4pm)

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The Martin Gallier Project

The Martin Gallier Project are a Wirral-based charity dedicated to helping individuals and families across the North West of England.

They were the UK's first Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention charity. The project offers non clinical suicide interventions on the high street, with no barriers to access, waiting list or criteria.

The service is open 7 days a week 9.30am-4.30pm - lines and emails are only monitored during these hours.

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