Steven Scott has overdosed on drugs three times and counts himself as lucky to be alive.
He started using drugs when he was a schoolboy and has lost friends to substance abuse – “too many to count”, the 38-year-old from Edinburgh says.
Now he’s a recovery champion with charity Change Grow Live and is using his experience to save lives by training to become a support worker.
Scotland has just recorded its worst ever year for drug deaths, with 1264 lives lost in 2019 – the highest rate in Europe and more than three times that of the UK as a whole.
Here’s Steven’s story:
I have lost a lot of my friends to drugs, too many to count when I was growing up in Wester Hailes. I myself have overdosed three times. I have no idea how I survived when so many others didn’t.
I started on drugs while at school and by 16 I was on heroin. At 17, I was sent to a young offenders [institute] for shoplifting and then for a few years, prison was a revolving door. At 22, I was put on drug treatment order.
I was a mess. I was on methadone and I was a big benzo user. They were my drug of choice.
After getting into residential rehab, I managed long periods of staying clean but in 2008, when I relapsed, I ended up taking crack cocaine. I thought it was different. I was badly mistaken.
When it goes bad for me, it goes bad very quick. I also turned again to street drugs.
I would never smoke crack unless I had heroin, xanax and etizolam there. It got very scary.
Throughout my time using, I overdosed three times, I was clinically dead each time. Once from heroin and twice from the other drugs.
I put my mum through an awful lot, but she always stood by me. I wouldn’t be where I am now with all the help from support services and I couldn’t have done it without methadone and other substitutes, they saved my life really.
It’s quite hard when you have been a survivor for all those years to listen to advice.
While I was using, I was very chaotic. I was skin and bone and losing my teeth. I used to hate looking at my reflection in the mirror.
Every time I had an overdose, I knew it was either change or die. I got to a point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time and what they told me in rehab stuck.
There are so many ways of recovery. I believe the route out of this is listening to those with lived experience. I now do assessments over the phone as part of my job and I was on a call with someone recently who told me they’d never had a call like it.
I use my own experience to give them motivation. Hopefully they think well he’s done it multiple times and never gave up then I can do it too.