'Today's mighty oak is just yesterdays nut.'

HOW DO YOU FIND TALKING ABOUT YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES?

I am quite comfortable talking about my past. I've worked hard on coming to terms with it, and talking helps me deal with it, rather than self-medicating myself and numbing the memories with substances. Having said that, you must feel safe and trust the person you are disclosing to.

CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH SUBSTANCES? HOW OLD WERE YOU?

I can remember weddings and family parties, and stealing the occasional drink as a small child. The first time I drank with the sole purpose of getting drunk was when I was thirteen. 

I had been playing the truant from school in the park and a lady walked past me and my friend. We notice that she had fallen and we went to help her. It was obvious that she was in a bad way and I ran to the phone box to call an ambulance. 

Now I'm not sure if it was because of my age that they thought it was a prank, or were simply really busy, but it took ages for the ambulance to come, and by the time it did the woman had died in my arms. I went to my friends and got drunk for the first time . . . but not for the last time.

WHEN YOU WERE AT YOUR LOWEST, WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO CHANGE THINGS?

Asking for help was really important. Like most men I had trouble doing this. Sometimes you may have to ask again and again, but thankfully the help is there, although you may have to wait and be patient.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR RECOVERY AND MENTAL WELL-BEING?

Go to as many groups and (mutual aid) meetings as you can, and do not become complacent. Your recovery must become the most important thing in your life. That's the way you get your life back.

WHAT DO YOU CREDIT WITH HELPING YOU CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

I was very lucky in that I had an excellent key-worker in Hounslow called Mary Egan, who mentored me and challenged me to better myself. She encouraged me to go to the meditation group than she ran, and very reluctantly I did so. I attended and it changed my life. After I while I began to help out in the group and when Mary became unwell I took over the running of the group and in the process found my calling. 

Every day is an opportunity to help others, and to try and do the best that I can.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT THE MOMENT? FUN, HOBBIES, INTERESTS?

I enjoy walking my dog, watching films and listening to music. I also play 'Ingress' on my phone. It's a type of war game that involves controlling the area(s) between two teams. 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE AFFIRMATION OR TECHNIQUE FOR MEDITATION?

Meditation helps calm my mind and allows me to cope with external stress. 'Chi Gong' meditation is probably the form that I use most, and the breathing techniques help me to calm the mind. As for affirmations, poems like 'Promise Yourself' by Christian Larson, and 'If' by Rudyard Kipling have helped me. My favourite affirmation at the moment is, 'What other people think of me is none of my business', by Dr Wayne Dyer.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

I am quite happy with life as it is, though I am hoping to go to college to learn to become a counsellor.

WHAT WAS THE LAST TUNE YOU LISTENED TO?

'A kind of blue', by Miles Davis.

WHAT WOULD BE THE SOUND TRACK TO YOUR LIFE?

'I'm so glad I'm standing here today', by Joe Cocker and the Crusaders.