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Interview for Substance Magazine – Chris Cole’s Story


My name is Chris Cole and I am now the Service User Involvement Team (SUIT) Project Co-ordinator. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to introduce myself and to give you a brief history of where I have come from.

I have been in recovery for roughly 9 years and have experienced many ups and downs whilst going through the process of trying to find myself.

In my early days of recovery I found it very hard to get one day clean and to live life on life’s terms without the use of substances. With the support of others in recovery and mutual aid groups I managed to find my way in life. I will always be thankful for those who have supported me throughout my recovery as without the support I had received from those people I would hate to think where I would be today.

I had found myself in a lot of negative situations whilst I was in active addiction and have experienced the usual things that come as part of the job description whilst living in that type of life style.

My life had come to a point where I could not live the way I was for much longer. I had a choice, either listen to those around me that were saying that I will never amount to anything and just give up or I could engage with local services and access the support available to me.

At that time I had exhausted all of my resources and I was very tired both mentally and physically. I then thought I will try something different as my way had not worked up until that point so if nothing changes then nothing changes. I finally gave up the high cost of low living and accessed support from a local treatment centre of which then referred me to a rehab and they then introduced me to mutual aid and others in recovery.

I had heard about recovery but had never seen it or experienced it so this was something new to me and I welcomed it with open arms and an open mind.

I will not say that achieving and maintaining recovery is easy as it’s a huge learning curve from day one as I had to challenge my personal thoughts, beliefs and behaviours in order for me to progress within my life which was difficult at times. What I can say now is that active addiction and everything associated with it is now in the past and that the person I once was now seems like a stranger of which is priceless!

Once I had achieved recovery I wanted to help others who were suffering in the same struggles as I did as I knew how hard that life style could be. I did not gain a lot from school nor did I attend college and I had no consistent work experience so I became a volunteer within a treatment aftercare service.

This felt right! I was helping others and my skills came from my past experiences. I no longer felt like I had wasted years of my life in active addiction I now feel I was completing research for my new career.

I then trained and became a qualified substance misuse worker and was in that post for about 6 years. The opportunity then came up to be the project co-ordinator of SUIT of which I am very happy that I was successful to secure the position with such a great service supported by inspirational colleagues who are also in recovery with a passion to help others.

The moral of the story is that it is never too late to turn your life around and if the same obsessive behaviour from taking substances/alcohol can be channelled into something positive then the skies are the limits! I now have more in my life than I ever thought possible and have the peace of mind that I am now doing the right thing and contributing to society in a positive way.

If you are currently experiencing drug or alcohol addiction issues and live within the Wolverhampton area then please come and visit us at SUIT where one of Experts by Experience staff members will happily support you with any difficulties you may be facing.

There are many new and exciting changes coming to SUIT with a lot of opportunities for “Experts with Experience” to be trained and become a part of the SUIT team.

If you would like to become a part of our volunteer team then please do not hesitate to contact us.