An Angus man has told how he escaped the mess and misery of drink and drug addiction.
Steven Smith, 35, from Arbroath, turned his life around after hitting rock bottom in the grip of cocaine, amphetamine and alcohol.
Mr Smith spoke out after celebrating a major recovery milestone to send a message to others caught in the hopelessness of addiction that change can happen with the right support.
“Drink and drugs made my life an absolute mess – family, friends, work, relationships were all ruined,” he said.
“In the end I felt utterly alone, invisible and suicidal.
“I was forever in a state of paranoia, run-ins with the police were rife and I can’t tell you how many times I ended up in A&E.
“I wouldn’t have wished my life on anyone.”
Mr Smith, desperate for help, applied for a year-long addiction recovery programme at Teen Challenge North East Scotland, Sunnybrae near Fyvie, which helps adults and teens to find freedom from life-controlling issues.
“Teen Challenge Sunnybrae was an amazing experience, however, it was tough,” he said.
“Personal issues such as depression and overwhelming anxiety were brought to a head. I felt very vulnerable.
“I worked hard though and successfully graduated in 2014, which was a great day.
“My friends and family were proud and I finally felt I had achieved something worthwhile.”
When asked what was key to his recovery, Mr Smith said dealing with issues through his Christian faith instead of medication.
He is now a self-employed gardener, living happily in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where he met his now wife, Jennifer.
The couple have a baby girl, while Mr Smith also now enjoys a fantastic relationship with his older son.
“Every day I am thankful for how my life has turned around,” he said.
“If you’re reading this, feeling helpless, broken, worthless, anxious, depressed, lonely or hurt, please know that you can get through it.
“You can have you a whole new beginning.”
Teen Challenge North East Scotland also runs a women’s addiction recovery refuge, Benaiah, near Mintlaw.
At both Sunnybrae and Benaiah residents complete the faith-based Teen Challenge programme, which is made up of a balanced mix of class-based studies, counselling sessions, personal reflection, work duties and recreation, helping students to become physically, emotionally and spiritually whole.
Area Manager of Teen Challenge North East Scotland, Gordon Cruden, said: “Steven’s story is huge encouragement for anyone caught in the hopelessness of addiction.
“His journey, along with the many others who come through our Teen Challenge programme, show that leopards really can change their spots.
“Addiction recovery isn’t easy but with hard work and determination, men and women can leave behind the mayhem of drugs and alcohol abuse to become contributing members of their communities, enjoying vibrant, happy lives.”
For further information on the charity visit www.tcns.org.uk or call 01651 891627.