How Jack, who lives with schizophrenia, struggled with addiction – and how he’s ready to move on
Jack is 27. He’s spent half his adult life in secure settings.
“I’ve been struggling with addictions since the age of 15,” Jack recalls.
The first drug Jack became hooked on was mephedrone, a psychoactive stimulant better known by its street name of m-cat or meow meow. He also used cocaine, and cannabis.
“I could be dead right now, [given] the amount I was using,” he says.
In his early twenties, Jack was placed in two secure settings – a specialist hospital, where he was sectioned, and a rehab facility.
“It was a horrible ordeal,” says Jack. “At the time, I was in a drug-induced psychosis which led to my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.”
“At the time, I wasn’t ready to stop using. I was open and honest [about that fact]. When I was in hospital I stopped using for a little while, but then got back involved with it, because I was addicted.”
Jack didn’t cope well while being sectioned in hospital. He became depressed, put on weight, and began to see a flare-up in psychotic episodes.
“I was always suicidal,” he recalled. “I was like ‘there’s no way out for me right now.’ My family wouldn’t have me, I couldn’t find a place on my own, couldn’t get discharged. I was just stuck.”
In 2019, in partnership with the local NHS and social care partners in Northampton, specialist mental health support provider SIL - which is part of Lifeways - set up Lorne Road, which was designed to provide opportunities for people like Jack.
That same year, Jack was able to move to the Lorne Road supported living service. As he was born and raised in Northampton, he liked that the service was in a familiar place.
Jack’s move back into the community didn’t come without problems. However, his team at Lorne Road were there when Jack was ready to change, and to support him to make the needed changes in his lifestyle to move away from drug use.
Part of Jack’s chosen lifestyle change was to try new activities and develop new relationships – not easy in the time of COVID – but for Jack this came in the form of a lively black kitten called Oscar.
Despite Oscar’s regular mischief, Jack’s formed a deep bond with the now grown-up cat, and credits his pet for helping him get his life on a new, brighter path.
“I don’t know what I’d do without him [Oscar the cat] to be honest.”
Jack’s feeling more positive and hopeful for the next stage of his life – although he’s well aware of the challenges he faces.
“I’ve definitely got a better handle on it [life],” says Jack. “I [still] get flashbacks and unwanted feelings… I struggle with anxiety, and deja-vu symptoms.”
Onwards and upwards
Jack’s next plan is to move from Lorne Road and live on his own.
“I’m ready for that little bit more independence, really,” he says.
He’s applied to the local council for his own place, and may rent privately, depending on the outcome.
Either way, Jack’s happy to be out of secure settings and pursuing his own future.
“I’m safe and stable where I am now,” Jack adds.
Ready to move
SIL’s team are delighted at the progress Jack’s made.
“Jack is now ready to move on,” says Richard Cunningham, SIL’s Service Development Director.
“For SIL, Lorne Road represents one of the keys to our success – which is partnership with our colleagues in the NHS and social care.
“This was a new service, specifically designed to look after people like Jack. I believe Jack stands as a shining example of both his and Lorne Road’s success.”
About Lorne Road:
It provides accommodation and 24-hour support for people with complex mental health needs.
At SIL, we believe there are still too many people currently in hospitals or institutional care settings who, with the right support and structure, would thrive in community settings.
SIL provides specialist support and recovery services for people with complex mental health needs, supporting them to transition into their own tenancy.
Find and contact SIL services in your area.
SIL is part of the Lifeways Group.
About the Lifeways Group:
The Lifeways Group provides extraordinary support for working-age adults in the community.
We support adults with diverse and complex needs, including learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and mental health conditions.
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