Hi Prison Widow. My name is Stuart and I am an ex offender and drug addict.
For the last three years, I have been working with youth offenders, sharing my experiences of prison. I have served enough time to qualify to advise!
I have never used Spice, heroin was my DOC (drug of choice) and I have been clean for four and a half years. Every day is a struggle, but I keep myself busy and enjoy working with young people advising them to stay on path A, and avoid path B, which was where I hung out for many years.
As far as rehabilitation goes in prison, it is simply down to the individual whether or not they want to change their lifestyle. Luck had always been on my side because I had supportive family members and friends. When I was ready to reach out, I held out my arms and I have never looked back. However, the kids I work with today, many of them, don't have a support network that is ideal. One young man I mentor lives with his mother and father, who both smoke drugs, and his father uses recreational drugs of a weekend. His parents aren't horrid people, but, the young man hasn't known any different and has always been exposed to drugs. Basically, growing up in a household around drug use has been the norm for him. But it isn't the norm, far from it in fact.
The young man smokes cannabis pretty much like thousands of young people do these days. In January 2018, his friend was sent to prison for theft due to Spice addiction. I am in touch with the mother of his friend and she tells me that he is not doing well. Like many stories I have read on your blog, her son constantly phones her for money and strangers constantly badger her for it to, because her son owes money in prison. She pays it, because what caring mother wants their son to be beaten up and harmed? I have even known families of prisoners windows to go through and criminal damage being done on their cars because they have refused to send money to their loved ones. This is the situation we are in right now. Not only are the prisoners and staff at HMP being affected by Spice, but families of addicts, many of whom are completely innocent and never use drugs/substances themselves, are being targeted.
The young man I mentor tells me nightmare stories about Spice in and out of prison. He needn't tell me because I have seen the effects myself and the trouble drugs cause in prison towards both inmate and staff. Our prison's have become lands for zombies. Places that remould people in to the walking dead.
It is all fine and well for the Government to plough millions in to rehabilitation in prisons, but realistically, what opportunities are really out here for when a person gets released from prison? Especially an individual who has been to prison more than once?
I have known prisoners to get released (one being myself) who had the intention of turning it around, only to be released and sent here and there and having to wait for benefits money to come through which can take up to 6 weeks, depending. By the time people get their benefits, and have to wait for them, the revolving door starts all over again and people need money; so, the inevitable happens, and 'sod it' I'll get some drugs because waiting weeks for benefit entitlements is a joke. I've heard it all before and I have been one of them. But I turned it around? Correct, I did, but I had a brilliant support network around me called family. Some of these young kids have nothing. A lot of adults who are released from prison sleep under doorways on their very first night of freedom!
To look at my past with a clear head has been a huge experience and even more of an experience getting to know young kids who think drugs are the bee all and end all. For the rest of my life I will always have cravings for heroin. That will never go away. To be the person I am today is hard work and I have jumped many hurdles to find myself again. Yes it can be done with determination, and I completely agree with the Government that families are the key to reoffending. But how many families hold that key? Let's be honest?
Name has been changed to protect the identity of the writer