‘You need a plan and purpose’

A former heroin user has said finding a new purpose in life has finally helped him to kick his 35-year drug habit.

Grant Couzens, of Worksop, has been clean for eight months now and is enjoying studying a nursing access course at North Notts College.

The 50-year-old said he was at his lowest ebb when he returned to his parents’ home in Retford in March this year.

“I had been in India for a few months and I was so unhappy, having made a few half-hearted attempts to end it all,” he said.

“I came back to London with just two rupees in my pocket and had nowhere to go so I came back to Retford. I was really broken and I think using drugs was a deliberate attempt to break myself. I just didn’t want to be in my body any more.”

Grant said he got great support from his family but knew he needed more help with the issues surrounding his drug taking and headed for HOPE for Homeless in Worksop. He said he initially found it hard to be around other people with drug problems but soon found the motivation to put his past past behind him.

“Opiates are like a velvet claw – they grip you around your neck and totally change your life. I knew I needed a new plan but when you come off drugs your past soon catches up with you,” he said. “I knew I wanted to get into mental health nursing and it was great to get a place on the access course which will help me to go on to university.”

But he said that the transition has not always been a smooth one and that he has had to make major changes to his lifestyle.

“I had let my mind run the show for so long and really had to work hard to ignore what it was telling me. Your mind will always try to sabotage you – despite your best intentions,” he said. “It’s also really important to get away from the place and people who led you to taking drugs in the first place. You have got to find a purpose in life and be brutally honest with yourself – otherwise it’s worthless.”

He added: “You have this misguided sense of loyalty to stay in touch with people but you realise that when you come off drugs, people soon stop calling you.”

Grant said he has joined a writing and music group and is taking positive steps to sort his life out beyond his college course.

“I used to moan that there was never anything to do in Worksop and Retford but I lived in London for so long and what did I do with my life then?” he said.

“I really want to work out in the community and reach out to those people who need help before they end up in secure institutions.”

“You need a plan and a purpose and to do it for yourself. All I have ever wanted is a contented mind and I think I am slowly getting there.”