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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
'I couldn't imagine life without heroin'
Crack cocaine
James tried most Class A drugs

As the government launches a new campaign to tackle drug abuse, one reformed addict explains how drugs came to rule his life.

James considers himself one of the lucky ones - he has beaten his addiction to drugs and is still alive.

James began taking drugs at the age of 12.

He abused practically every Class A drug there is in the years that followed. He overdosed five times on heroin.

But James was not what many people would perceive as an addict. He held down a job, working nine to five, five days a week.

Nine to five

For a long time, even he did not believe he was an addict.

"I was going to work everyday in a suit and earning the money to feed my habit," he says.

"I always deluded myself into thinking that I wasn't an addict because I was getting up and working nine to five every day."

I just couldn't imagine my life without heroin or crack

Many of James's friends thought differently.

"I lost a lot of good friends because of my addiction.

"A lot of my friends used to come up to me and say 'James, this is going to kill you, you are going to turn into an addict'."

But at that time, drugs were the single most important thing in his life.

"There wasn't a day that I could go without injecting myself. In the morning, that was the first thing I had to do.

"My whole life revolved around it. It affected a lot of other people in the process, including my family.

"It was terrible. I just couldn't imagine my life without heroin or crack."

Kicked the addiction

Today, James is clean and has kicked his addiction. He believes he is lucky to be alive.

"Considering the fact that I overdosed five times on heroin and abused practically every drug under the sun since I was 12, I feel extremely lucky to be alive."

There wasn't a day that I could go without injecting myself

He believes that if there had been greater awareness of the harmful effects of drugs 13 years ago, he may have been deterred from trying them out.

"I do feel and believe strongly that if there was more information given to me around the age of 12 or 13 about the effects of heroin and crack then there could have been a possibility that I might not have gone down that avenue."

For that reason, James has backed a new government campaign aimed at giving people information and advice on drugs.

The 3m 'Talk to Frank' campaign encourages young people to phone a new helpline or log onto a new website called for advice and information.

"I want to use this as a message to 12-year-olds out there not to get involved in drugs because at the end of the day you may not be one of the lucky ones like I am."

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