Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:15 UK

Cocaine addicts offered support

Cocaine Anonymous leaflet
This is the only Cocaine Anonymous group outside the central belt

A drop in the price of cocaine and its increasing availability has led to a support group for addicts being set up in Perth.

The first meeting of Cocaine Anonymous will take place on Tuesday evening. It is the only such group to be run outside the central belt.

People will be put on a 12-step recovery programme and former drug users will offer help and advice.

The meetings will be held every Tuesday in St Ninian's Cathedral.

Alan, 28, from Perth, is a former user who was behind the effort to bring the group to the town.

He has been drug-free for more than a year, but at one point had been so low he was going to kill himself.

He started drinking when he was eight years old, then moved onto cannabis when he was 12, then through acid, amphetamine, ecstasy and on to cocaine at 16 or 17.

Even if I didn't want to use, the obsession was so strong it just become impossible not to use
Alan
Former cocaine addict

Doctors and counsellors had tried to help him, but nothing worked until he went to Cocaine Anonymous.

Alan said: "It was an addict helping another addict - they felt like I felt, they acted as I acted, they did what I did.

"When I could see people who were very similar to me recovering I just believed, 'Well if it can work for them, why can't it work for me?"

Alan lost many jobs and homes because of his addictions and ended up thousands of pounds in debt.

He said: "In the end I was using against my will. Even if I didn't want to use, the obsession was so strong it just become impossible not to use."

Alan believes that cocaine is getting easier to get hold of.

"When I was young cocaine was unaffordable, I simply couldn't afford a gram of coke at £50/60," he said.

"Cocaine's come down in price and earnings have gone up and I know people in my own family that are 17 or 18 who tell me they've gone out and went half on a gram at £20.

"When I was young I looked around the clubs and it was the city high flyers who were on coke, I called it the rich man's drug, but it's become so much more attainable, so much more affordable to the public."




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