Phil's story

Phil had never used technology before, but during lockdown he decided to give it a try. Now he's encouraging others to do the same. 

"I used drink and drugs for about 40 years of my life. It got to the point where I knew I’d be dead within a year if I didn’t make some big changes. Eventually I decided I’d had enough. I spoke to my doctor and he sent me to the drug and alcohol service in Gloucestershire. That was my turning point.

I joined everything and stuck with the programme. It was really good. Initially I didn’t share anything, I just listened. I was very shy. Gradually I opened up and started to enjoy it. I was connecting with people who understood me.

It’s now been 4 years and I’m in a good place – I’m so much happier. I’m volunteering as a peer mentor and a service user representative. 

Lockdown has been alright for me. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t think about going to get a bottle in the first few weeks, just to brighten up the day. But I’ve learned that when that happens I need to just talk to people. So I spoke to my partner and we talked it through. I just take each day as it comes.

Sometimes I miss seeing people, I miss the laughs - but video calls are good. I look forward to them. They give you some kind of connection and it’s more personal than a phone call.

My service is like a little family. They’ve made me feel part of something. I’ve got a good person on my side called Nicky. She’s always at the end of the phone if I need her, and she’s been checking in on me which has been a good incentive to stay on track.

A man smiling

Video calls are good. I look forward to them. They give you some kind of connection and it’s more personal than a phone call.

Before lockdown, believe it or not I just couldn’t get to grips with technology. I didn’t have the patience and I felt embarrassed when people tried to help me. I thought - I’m 55 years old, I should know how to use a computer. It was a confidence thing, I never really had confidence in my ability to do anything.

So I just stayed in my little bubble, getting my kids to help me if I needed to use the internet. My partner bought me a laptop for Christmas, but I hadn’t even opened it.

I’ve been trying to complete the SMART recovery programme training for well over year, but in lockdown I just got on with it. Each time I completed an assignment I got a bit more confident, and I felt chuffed with myself. So I went on to another one. I’m now a certified SMART facilitator and I’ve completed all the Change Grow Live online training courses too.

If you’re fearful of using computers I want to let you know that it isn’t as bad as you think. People in addiction are often scared of trying new things, like I was. We get comfortable and we make excuses for things we’re scared of. It’s usually to do with confidence, and we don’t want to feel weak.

Have a bit of confidence in yourself and things get better. Learning to use a computer has helped me so much. Give it a go, don’t be shy and don’t be scared to ask for help. Try not to worry about what other people think.

Believe me, you’ll be amazed at what you can do."