A MAN who felt helpless while in the “absolute grips” of drug addiction has spoken of how he turned his life around.

Jamie Steele spent years being in and out of hospital due to overdosing and suffering seizures.

The 32-year-old had been taking drugs for around half of his life – since he was just 14 – but later found himself highly addicted to opioids.

“People are always like ‘it must have been mental’ and it wasn't,” Jamie said. “I lay in my room and did nothing for seven years.

“Opioids are what really gripped me and took me to my knees. I was in the absolute grips of addiction because when I started, I couldn't stop.

“When I put one in my body it kicked off a craving that I had no control over. And I couldn't stop until I was stopped; until I ran out of money, until I overdosed, until something happened.”

The Gazette: Jamie went on to reveal he overdosed countless times.

He added: “That never really stopped me. The love of my family couldn't, nothing could. It was the only thing I cared about.

“But I guess internal emotional pain is what made me made me want to get sober. I guess that's the reality of it. I hit my rock bottom and just couldn’t go on any longer.”

Jamie, from Kirkcaldy, checked into Abbeycare Scotland in Erskine in October 2022, and his mum paid the fees.

He spent a month at the centre and has been sober ever since.

“I would be dead if I didn’t go,” Jamie said. “There’s no doubt in my mind about that whatsoever.

“The staff, I can't explain how good they were. They were all absolutely unreal, especially a therapist called Marie. The therapy that I got was amazing.

“Looking back, Abbycare gave me the space that I could get sober in. I couldn't do it in Kirkcaldy. I couldn't get a f***ing minute.

“Abbeycare gave me 30 days where I couldn't take drugs. It gave me a safe space to be drug free and it got me sober.

The Gazette: “I had tried everything. I tried counselling, opioid replacement medication, it was what I needed to do next. I had no options left.”

Jamie now works for ADAPT Substance Recovery – a drug and alcohol triage service in Fife.

He also plays in two bands, does boxing as a sport and goes to meetings in Glasgow as part of a recovery programme.

Jamie said: “When I left Abbeycare I got heavily involved with a 12-step fellowship. I practice a 12-step programme on a daily basis right up until this day.

“I'm thoroughly involved in the fellowship. I go to a few meetings a week and I put my hand out to newcomers and sponsor them. I take them through the 12 steps.

“My family know how heavily involved and how passionate I am about it, and they see me helping other people so, they’ve got peace of mind. “I went through lots of fellowship meetings in Glasgow, so it was a big part of my recovery.

“I just live my life on spiritual terms, really. And that's what keeps me sober today. And it's kept me sober since I got out of Abbeycare.”

A recent report from Public Health Scotland revealed there have been 278 suspected drug deaths between December 2023 and February 2024 in Scotland.

That is an average of 23 per week.

This was 11 per cent higher than the previous period, and stable compared to the same periods starting in December 2021 and December 2022.

Meanwhile, between October and December 2023, 1,942 drug-related hospital admissions were recorded in Scotland, 24 per cent lower than the previous quarter.

Douglas McFarlane, register manager of the Abbeycare Group, said:
“We are alarmed to hear of the latest rise in suspected drugs deaths across Scotland, showing that this crisis is still far from over.

“It is shocking to think that 23 people a week lost their lives as a result of drugs over the past few months, leaving behind devastated family and friends.

“Abbeycare’s mission is to facilitate recovery by providing specialist residential detox and rehab services, as well as offering counselling, aftercare and family support.

"We believe that increased access to abstinence-based rehabilitation can play a crucial role in reducing the number of deaths caused by drugs in Scotland.”