A former Aberdeen drug addict who now helps others on their road to recovery has told how he believes a family support group could have saved his mother’s life.
Sam Raion, 42, began drinking while still at primary school and moved onto recreational drugs.
He was imprisoned for drug offences in 1999 and it was there he discovered heroin.
He spent the next 20 years as a “functioning addict”, working as an engineer while battling his demons, and twice attempted to take his own life.
Sam, from Seaton, said: “I had quite a troubled childhood. It wasn’t as bad as some but it still involved a lot of trauma.
“That led to starting drinking around the age of eight or nine. The house was full of alcohol as a lot of households were in those days.
“In prison, I found a drug called heroin, and for the next 20 years I was a functioning addict.
“I was working offshore and around the world as an engineer but all the time I had addictions and I never dealt with it.”
He added: “The one thing I always come back to was there was never help for my family.
“Unfortunately my mum, Jilly, died 10 years ago and the one thing I regret is that we never had the chance to sit down with a family group and talk through these issues, so it’s something that’s really important to me.
“I drove everyone away bit by bit through the lies, deceit and pretending everything was fine.
“The impact drove mum to drink.
“Me being imprisoned broke her heart and she was alone. That’s the reason she died in her 50s which I hold myself responsible for.
“I hope through family groups things like that can be avoided.”
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AiR has now launched a new campaign and family support group, supported by Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) and Alcohol and Drugs Action (ADA).
The organisation provides peer support to those battling addictions and their families, from people with experience of the issues themselves.
Sam’s life has now improved to such an extent that he runs fitness classes through AiR, and he believes it has the potential to save lives.
He said: “Thankfully this year there has been quite a change in me and that will continue.
“For me, recovery is the rest of my life, and it’s a good life.
“I really want others to have that opportunity, not just for themselves but for their families.
“You are not alone. There are a lot of families who don’t want to admit there’s a problem and I myself have had family members who have done that.
“By uniting and supporting each other, what a difference can be made. Lives can be saved.”
He added: “With AiR, because everyone there has lived experience or has been around drugs experience, there’s always someone you can relate to and the difference that makes is huge.
“It’s really hard talking about stuff, and if there’s someone there who can relate to even part of your story, it helps you open up a little bit more and that’s where I think AiR has this incredible advantage because lived experience makes a difference.
“I am very excited. That’s why I am part of AiR.
“I have worked hard and I am humbled to have been given positions of responsibility in a very short space of time.
“Every life matters and even if it’s just one person, that’s one life saved.
“But there will be many more and that’s the advantage of this partnership.”
Get In Touch
- Aberdeen in Recovery Family Support Group meets on Fridays 1-3pm fortnightly at AiR Community Rooms at Elim Church on Marischal Street.
- The Family Bereavement Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month from noon-1pm at the Credo Centre on John Street.
- Contact AiR on 01224 638342, 07936 800808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alcohol and Drugs Action also holds fortnightly family support meetings from 7-9pm at 2 Imperial Place.
- Contact ADA on 01224 594700, 07927 192706 or e-mail email@example.com