Lancaster ex-addict’s Christmas joy after kicking 25-year drug habit
David Mcloughlin is celebrating the festive season clean and sober as he puts his addictive past behind him.
The 46-year-old is working to help others by setting up a community cinema for those in recovery. His five-year-old nephew, DJ, is delighted to have his funny uncle back.
David said: “I am now called Uncle David again and it is the most amazing feeling.
“Spending time with my nephew makes me want to be a better man. Little DJ has no idea he has saved my life.”
At the age of 12 David’s life changed overnight when he lost his mum to cancer.
Overwhelmed with grief David turned to drugs in the playground to fit in with those who bullied him.
“The end of my mum’s life was the start of my very lonely existence. My mum loved me more than anything, she was the one person in the world who I thought was going to be there, it was the end of the world for me,” said David.
David was bullied for being gay during his teens and his unhealthy relationship with his father forced him to leave home at 16-years-old.
“As a child my dad scared me to death and was not the sort of man you could talk to about your feelings,” he said.
David lost his father when he was 22 and never got the chance to build up a relationship. He turned to the gay community and progressed from marijuana to harder drugs, including heroin, ecstasy and cocaine, overdosing on many occasions.
He said: “It was more about what drug wasn’t I taking.
“I was off my head, I just wanted to party all the time. I never stopped to think I could die, this was a harsh world, a harsh way of life.”
The streets were a regular bed for David as he would often wake up in the gutter.
Making a name for himself as a party animal David’s relationship with drugs took a dark turn.
In 2003 David lost his job and two years later he lost his home – entering a relationship which was dependent on drugs.
“Unfortunately I just had a neon sign over my head saying ‘vulnerable man do what you want’. I was afraid of losing him if I didn’t go and get money for drugs.”
The three -year relationship led David to a life of crime with drug dealers giving the pair an ultimatum - sell drugs or die. David escaped and was forced to look at the harsh reality of what his life had become.
“I was left homeless when my partner left me, my family weren’t talking to me, I kept thinking why don’t they love me? And of course they did.”
David got help from Discover in Preston, a community drug and alcohol service. Detox followed at Kevin White Unit in Liverpool then Lancaster’s Littledale Hall, a therapeutic centre where David shared his journey with 30 other people for six months.
For him detoxing, to allow the drugs and alcohol to leave his system safely, was “hell on earth.”
He said: “Cutting off heroin and methadone, it is like every bone and every muscle from your head down to your legs hurts. You can’t sit still, I could have peddled to the south of France. I prayed to my mum, screaming ‘please take it away.’ In the end detox worked for me. I am grateful somebody gave me that opportunity.”
Since January David has transformed his life and has developed Metamorphosis, a community-led voluntary organisation for people who feel excluded from society, arts and culture. Teaming up with a number of organisations David developed Open Cinema Lancashire, a community cinema that allows people to come and watch films in an alcohol and drug-free environment. David and a small team have been able to pilot the project in Lancaster and screen films every Tuesday in Lancaster Library.
He also volunteers for the Amy Winehouse foundation visiting schools in Lancaster and Preston to speak to children as young as 11. David said: “Littledale Hall saved my life and all I want to do is give something back.”
For cinema details visit https://www.facebook.com/opencinemalancashire/ or call 01524 555900.