Earlier this month, Claire Cahill, Finance Director for Elastic FM met up with Adam White to learn more about his story on how he has recovered from his addictions because she believes that this story may inspire others and support those currently suffering to enable people in the community to make alternative choices and gain support.
This story is captured in the words of Adam and is his truthful journey and experience which may or may not be similar to others who are reading this. With any journey we need to respect that others who were involved at the time, may have a different version of events and we accept this as Adams truth and he is now demonstrating his courage to speak out to inspire others that there is always another way if you are willing to change.
An interview with Adam White who will be appearing on Your Perfect Balance show with Carolyn Wellington on Monday 12th September 10am – 12pm
Adam White was born on 18th of July 1983. He has a twin sister who was born half an hour before him as well as an older brother Jamie (4 years older) and a younger brother called Luke (7 years younger).
Adam told Claire that growing up was relatively good, although they had bad times as any family would. His mum was a good mum growing up and loved all her children, his dad was a quick-tempered man and not shy to give the children a good hiding if they angered him. Adam’s dad wasn’t the best growing up and in his later life freely admitted that his parenting skills led a lot to be desired, but as Adam said “he was our dad and loved us in his own way”.
Growing up in the 80’s /90’s for Adam and his siblings was certainly a different style of parenting to what it is now. His life through school wasn’t the best, he found growing up his temper was just too much and he would fly off the handle at anything and anyone. Adam spent a lot of time at schools suspended for fighting and as he reflected said “to be honest my dad was a handy bloke growing up so I aspired to be like him and liked the whole macho lifestyle”.
When Adam progressed to secondary school, he got into basketball in a big way so that helped keep him on the straight and narrow but even then, he found he would get into altercations and fights. He played basketball for teams and school up until leaving, at which point he started smoking cigarettes and drinking.
Adam had never really done any of that before and his friends would be drinking and smoking, meeting up with girls so he decided he wanted to “live a bit”. This behaviour led to the addictions. During the interview Claire asked Adam what he thought “the triggers for his behaviour were”
“I couldn’t say what the triggers were, I guess at the time when I started drugs, I was 16, I started smoking resin to begin with just now and again and progressively got to smoking it every day. This put a major strain on my already volatile relationship with my dad. I was living there and he hated drugs so this would cause arguments.”
“I moved on from smoking resin and met up with a guy who sold and smoked weed so I started smoking that daily and that was certainly a lot stronger than the resin, so more noticeable when going home”
“My dad would kick off more and more at the state I was coming home in. He even punched the guy who was selling me the weed one day.”
As Adam grew older he started trying other drugs, the first cocaine and then ecstasy on nights out, in fact it got to a stage where he wouldn’t go out if he couldn’t get any pills. He used to go out get high on E’s all weekend before going home to his parents completely high with his jaw swinging and eyes wide. Later he was taking other drugs like ketamine and smoking crack cocaine now and again, however kept that one low key from most people. Given these details, seeking support from professionals, friends, and family can make a significant difference on his journey towards recovery.
Adam started dealing drugs and said “I’ve always worked all my life, work has been chequered, moving from job to job for hitting bosses or fighting people, albeit still working”. “I dealt drugs too so it worked out I wasn’t paying for my drugs. I was in total taking drugs daily nearly 12 years”.
Claire was curious as to how he stopped when it was clear from listening to the story, Adam was taking quite a concoction.
“I was going out one day with a friend into town on an all-day session, I got to my friends flat and asked him if he had any ‘Charlie’, he pulled out a bag of sniff and racked 2 lines up, one for me and one for him. We snorted the lines, necked a beer and headed off to town walking up Sheffield Road”.
“As we were walking up Sheffield Road my mate was telling me about a bloke who had just passed us, telling me he was supposed to be a genius, but as he’s telling me this my heart started pounding weirdly. I understood we had taken cocaine, however it wasn’t a cocaine rush, it was different, I started to panic and I felt dizzy”.
“I questioned my friend on the coke we had just snorted, but he said he felt fine and it was nothing to do with the coke being dodgy. We finally got into town, went into the Sun Inn pub and ordered a pint. I couldn’t shake this feeling off and ended up leaving town and going home”.
“I managed to chill myself out and finally feel myself again. A few weeks later I was walking to a friend’s house, I didn’t drive then and I rolled a spliff for the walk. I lived in Newbold and he lived at Brimington, it was a nice day so decided to walk up”.
“I got to the subway near the old Tesco and BOOM, my vision went and my heart pounded, everything around me was moving at such a fast pace and I couldn’t work out what the things were, just flashes of light”.
“I panicked so much it scared me, I threw the spliff on the floor and I still couldn’t see properly. I stayed like that for what seemed hours although it was just a few minutes”.
“I finally got my vision back and rang my friend panicking and carried on walking to his house with him on the phone. I finally got to his house, gave him my weed and told him I have done with drugs, he laughed and said he’d save it for me until I wanted it tomorrow”.
“I’d said I was stopping many times before over the years and never did so why would he think any different?”
On that day 13 years ago, true to his word Adam never touched a drug again. It had scared him so much he never touched drugs again. He learned that what he had experienced were panic attacks, drugs had caused them even though he stopped the drugs that day. Adam continued to have panic attacks every day for about year or so after until 3 years later when he met Tina. He knew her from years before and she used to like drugs too. Like Adam, she stopped and had been clean for 5 years. Adam had been clean for 3 years so they decided to meet up and have some fun and within a few months Tina fell pregnant with their daughter.
They got an house together and life was going good, their daughter was born on 6th November 2013. 2 years into their relationship and things were not working out. In Adams words “not due to Tina, due to me”. “I was a good dad, but a rubbish partner, I still liked to go out , get drunk with the lads and then return the next day and treat Tina like rubbish”. “I spoke to her disrespectfully, with no violence, but abusive with my words, really dragging her down which I’m deeply ashamed about and have so many regrets”.
Adam went on to tell his story
“Tina kicked me out in the end and I started living on my friends sofa as my parents didn’t want me there because I was still going out and getting drunk, causing trouble and my dad didn’t want me there because we’d be arguing all the time”.
“This led to my mental health getting worse and it’s only now I realise I have had mental health issues all my life which I’ve just masked with substance abuse”.
“Living on sofas and going from living with my daughter to now being an every other weekend dad completely messed my head up.” “I started drinking more which then led to gambling”.
“The gambling started gradually and for a good couple of years it was just football bets until I went on to fruit machines. It was just the odd fiver in a machine until I started gambling on horses”
“A friend had got me into football bets and a guy at work had got me into horses. Little by little I started gambling all my wages away and then I started gambling online resulting in some big wins” “Guess what, I started putting all my winnings back on”.
“I ended up signing up to Gamstop and that barred me from online gambling. I started getting loans, credit cards and running up debt to get drunk and gamble. I was clearly on self-destruct and didn’t care about my own life despite having my daughter”.
“On my weekends I held down a great relationship with my daughter and she was properly looked after, she never knew anything about my addictions, it was well hid from her”.
“I’ve never drunk when having my daughter, I prided myself on being a responsible parent, however on the days, I didn’t have her I was the most irresponsible, immature person you could meet”.
“I was still in that mode of reputation whereby I thought I was the big man and cared about what people thought about me and anything negative about me got challenged with fists”.
Fast forward a few years and Adam is living in Brampton, the drinking is getting worse and whilst he wasn’t dependent on alcohol he was a binge drinker and could easily drink litres of brandy and go out partying on the weekends when he didn’t have his daughter.
The gambling was the worst it’s ever been and he was gambling nearly everything he had. There were plenty of times Tina would have to give him money so he could have his daughter. This was to cover the basics of feeding her.
Adam only recently admitted this when he did a talk with a group last week. Adam said “I was so ashamed I never told anyone about that. I sold a Mercedes I had bought off a friend, I’d not even paid him for it and sold it to gamble”.
“I sold it for £600 and then gambled it within 45 minutes. It had all gone & I found myself walking back home with no car”.
“I got another car eventually, but I was still gambling. I couldn’t seem to stop. I was crying most of the time when I was alone until one day I spent my last £160. I had only planned on putting £20 in the bandit, however I had spent it all”.
“I felt dizzy leaving the bookies, a bit like that scene on lock stock and two smoking barrels where he loses the card game. I drove home although I can’t remember the drive home, it was a blur”.
“I got home, opened my door, went inside and cried”.
“I sobbed like a baby, I couldn’t find a way out of this life, I hated who I was, what I was, what I stood for and what a rubbish dad I was becoming with the constant let downs”.
“I decided I was going to end my life, I had hit rock bottom. I grabbed a knife out of the drawer and decided I was going to slit my wrists and end it”.
“Before I did it, I was looking at pictures of my daughter on my phone and crying when suddenly something said in my head, ‘don’t do it, think about your daughter’ ‘what would this do to her?’, ‘you’re stronger than this, you beat drugs, you can beat this’”.
“I put the knife away and decided to go to sleep and set a plan in the morning. I eventually got to sleep and when I got up the next day I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom and ripped myself to bits and how I looked, what I had become, what a rubbish dad I was becoming resulting in me thinking what do I need to do to make ME feel better?”.
Adam realised that morning he was handling his gambling addiction wrong. He was focusing on stopping gambling and failing whereas he needed to focus on the driving force behind why he gambled.
He decided to move away from Chesterfield and try new surroundings. In the 36 years he had been in Chesterfield it had always been a negative experience for him with the only positive experience being his daughter.
He moved away and the gambling stopped. Since that day Adam has had 2 relapses and he has not gambled for nearly 2 years. He has been free of drugs for 13 years, he no longer drinks and realised after 30 odd years he was not very nice when he drank so he’s been 1 year drink free and stopped smoking cigarettes 1 year ago. He has no vices anymore and every addiction he has beat.
Claire was curious about what advice Adam would give to his younger self.
If I could give my younger self any advice it would be, follow your dreams, have the can-do attitude and listen to the older generation.
Tell me more about the charity you are planning to set up
The charity is in the first stages of getting set up. I’ve got a lovely lady called Kelly Thurlow who is a HR whizz and she’s helped people build charities and businesses up before so she’s helping me set it up.
The charity will to be helping people with addictions, which is something close to my heart as I’ve been through it.
Tell me about the talk you have recently done
I did a talk at Chesterfield football club where a good friend of mine, Oli Barnes works for a program called Spireites which is aimed at helping addicts and people suffering with depression and anxiety. They do classes and help people with life skills. It’s a really good program and they do a fantastic job in the community. Through my relationship I was asked to do a talk which I did it and it went down a storm. The group engaged and loved it. I received some great feedback. They’re getting me some more talks organised in the next couple of months. I’m also looking to talk in schools in the future.
What would a letter to your future self include?
If I was to write my future self a letter it would be keep doing what you’re doing no matter what setbacks you have. Address any challenges and keep moving forward. You have a dream, fulfil it, it’s not a journey I’m on, it’s a quest. A journey is already planned like a tour travelling from dot to dot, a quest is heading to your future not knowing what’s around the corner, so just follow your dreams and see what happens.
What is your driving force?
My driving force behind my aspirations is my daughter, everything I do is for my daughter. She’s very much a people person who is kind and likes to help people if she can and that drives me to want to help too. With my life I can help loads of people not to make the same mistakes I did.
What’s the legacy you want to create in the world?
The legacy I want to create in this world is one where people will learn to handle issues / problems in life without using drugs or gambling. I want to help them learn to get to their full potential and have a positive mindset instead of negative. This is the reason why in September I have taken the step to become a qualified, trained counsellor.
Everyone at Elastic FM wants to wish Adam huge success with his mission and thanks him for sharing his story so openly & honestly. Don’t forget to listen into Carolyn’s show “Your Perfect Balance” on Monday 12th September between 10am & 12pm to hear more of Adams story.
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