James’ story

I began using cannabis at around 16-17, alcohol not long after, predominantly cannabis though. I used almost daily til 20-21. Alcohol was used more as a way to amplify the effects of cannabis and was used periodically til the later part of my using at which time it was almost daily. There was some use of over the counter pills also at the later part of my using.

I experienced for me significant trauma at around 21 after which I began experiencing significant mental health problems. Directly following the trauma I became psychotic and became overcome with the experience of hearing, seeing and sensing information that others did not tend to hear, see or experience. There were also other childhood trauma/ distress factors that contributed to arriving at the psychotic state. Homelessness was also a theme in my life at that point.

My quest for recovery is driven by a fearful but relentless search to understand my experiences in ways that honoured me. I also hope to find greater degrees of wellness through learning. Finding safety for myself and taking personal responsibility for my life and no longer allowing it to fall to the hands of others, whose interests may not have been solely for my welfare.

I am now a loving father and partner. I have two young children. I work in community based mental health care advocating and facilitating autonomous person centred recovery outcomes from the position of my lived experience and first hand understanding of what is possible. I heard, saw and sensed things other people didn't for over 15 years and spent 6 years in recovery from substance abuse via community based peer initiatives of recovery before government reforms advocated for them. For me recovery means: Personal responsibility, Life, Acceptance, Hope and Change.