8 – Bittersweet Symphony (1992)

“I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah.
No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.”
From “Bitter Sweet Symphony” lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger / Richard Ashcroft,

For regular readers of this blog, you may already know that I grew up in Easterhouse won a scholarship to Hutchesons Grammar and had good opportunities.

You may even know that I threw it all away for many reasons and that I started with the drugs and gangs at age of 14.

In this post, though, I want to talk to you about my experience with Methadone.

After leaving prison in August 1990, I ended up very quickly back in the cycle of addiction. My very own desert of despair, where one day seemed to melt into another and prison etc ended up on methadone for the first time at age of 22 (1992). I went through my drug counsellor to the doctor in order to get a prescription. I couldn’t believe that if I said the right words I could get free drugs.

I still remember the first day I collected my prescription. I was on my way to a building site, where I worked as an overnight security guard. At this time I was based in Yoker. I went to the doctor’s almost in passing and could not believe it when I left with a week’s worth of methadone and a week’s worth of Nitrazepam, in two very large bottles. It was before everyone had to take their script orally in front of the pharmacist, daily.

As good as it seemed initially getting all these drugs for free, I very quickly found out that I needed to dramatically increase my heroin intake to get a stone out of it. The very nature of the methadone made it harder to get a buzz. I was an addict. I took drugs because I wanted to get high. The methadone interfered with this so I stopped taking the methadone within a few months ( I did keep collecting and selling them, though). Even though I continued taking heroin at this point I still went through withdrawal because of the methadone. It was not a good time.

My addiction continued, but I tried methadone a few years later and this time I insisted on detoxing with it. Every day I would religiously collect my script at Easterhouse Health Centre and by this time you had to take it in front of a pharmacist.

I took NO other drugs during my 10-month detox and ended up on 2ml a day put into a wee funnel-shaped glass to make it seem more. Think about how small that actually is and you may get an idea how strong addiction can be.

At the end of my detox I called my drug counsellor and asked him what was next. At that point, I had been on drugs for around 10 years and EVERY waking thought was about my next fix. My 9.30 daily appointment just became my next fix.

Nobody had taught me how to live. How to make decisions that did not involve getting a fix. Nobody taught, me how to cope with life’s circumstances without running to get a fix.

The scene in Trainspotting when the baby dies and the mother just goes and has a fix is one of the most accurate depictions I have seen of addiction. Having a fix is your coping mechanism for everything.

My dependence on drugs was my go-to for everything.

My life changed through an organisation that used to sit outside the needle exchange in the evenings at the health centre.

Teen Challenge offered a hope worth fighting for and the “tools” to deal with life’s issues.

I went to one of their Christian rehab centres in May 1997. I was presented with the love of God through Jesus Christ and a full-on discipleship (life application) programme that helped me grab hold of the life that was being offered to me.

In 2001 I got married to Tracy and was working full time and enjoying life. Dark times held no fear for me now as I had a hope to get me through and the coping mechanisms and life skills to deal with them.

2009 we moved back to Scotland where we helped out with Teen Challenge Strathclyde and the Haven Kilmacolm (the very centre I first walked through the doors of 22 May 1997). In 2011, along with my wife I started Easterhouse Community Church (part of Assemblies of God, Great Britain) in Shandwick Square Shopping Centre, a place I spent most of my addict life in and only a few hundred yards from Easterhouse Health Centre.

I was sick of seeing friends die. Still today many old friends are dying due to the ongoing health consequences of drug abuse.

We are hoping at some point to bring the Teen Challenge bus back to Easterhouse. An organisation providing the REAL and valuable alternative to the government’s answer. Hope through Christ!

As a Christian, the cross of Jesus gave me real hope that I could start again and the Bible-based life teaching has enabled me to grab a life worth living.

My beautiful wife Tracy is a nurse and my three girls do not need to grow up in a home full of addiction and all it brings.

There is a hope.

The above is an edit of a letter sent to the Daily Record journalist, Mark McGivern. He was doing a series on Methadone and how many people were just being “parked up” on it for life. I felt it right to send him my experience, which ended up being published in the Daily Record on 8th September 2016. Mark was my first proper dealing with a journalist, and I found him to be courteous and respectful, but also very probing and curious. He was also passionate about using his position to make a difference, which can be seen in many of the investigative series’ he has undertaken. Thank you, Mark.

Here is a link to the article, hosted on the Daily Record website.

This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.

The Haven
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Street Connect
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church
Stuart Patterson

If you would like to know more about the background to Methadone, click on the link below. It leads to the University of Maryland’s Substance Abuse and Research pages.

3 thoughts on “8 – Bittersweet Symphony (1992)

  1. Stuart God has done a transformation in both our lives that I see first hand his promises are always kept especially the one he says he will return the years the locusts have eaten. Now we trust in the Lord with all our heart. We lean not on our own understanding. We acknowledge him in all our ways. And he does direct our paths. As he has given us free will to choose this life and to choose the path the Lord has set for us he has a plan for everyone life but it is up to us to choose to believe praise God for the miracles he has done in our lives this is a testimony that no one can deny as they can fiscally see with there own eyes…Amen

  2. My life is very similar to stuarts , but I’ve never had the same help as him ,I’m still using drugs to this day ,I don’t no what it feels like to be straight ,but I think I’ve done really good over the last 6 year I’ve come of dyhidrocodien ,methadone,suboxin,,Valium ,drinking alchahol ,I’ve done it all myself ,I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a rehab ,even though I’ve asked many times ,they always told me it cost to much money ,but by not putting me in rehab has actually cost more to the NHS ,cos it must have cost thousands and thousands of pounds to keep me on a script of about 3or 4 different meds ,Luke meth ,then suboxin ,vallium ,stomach tablets ,pain killers ect ,I think I slipped through the net ,but I’m just one of many that slip through the net ,now I only smoke hash ,and that’s just at night time ,if I had something to do with my time I’d be very happy ,and stay of the drugs for ever .all the jail time I’ve done was either due to drugs or drink ,now I’m 53 years old ,I’m still suffering wi the after affects of all the drink and drugs I’ve done ,its now mental health problems I have now ,I just need to get out the house ,I’m looking for some voluntary work ,I can’t even get that ,I thought it would b very easy to get work helping someone ,but its not that easy ,what chance have I getting a paid job ,if I can’t get work doing something for nothing ,

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