Real Voices interview: James*
Meet James, a student who has faced addiction
What were you addicted to?
Cannabis. I started smoking it when I was 11. It used to be a thing that I would do with my friends on the weekend. But then I found that I used to buy it for myself quite a lot, probably at least two or three times a week.
When did you know you were addicted?
I got to 12–13 and thought, yeah, I’m addicted. But I didn’t really want to admit it. But now that I’m 16 I do admit that I’m addicted. Just four months ago I talked to my mum and she agreed to support me. So I got a youth worker called Jenavi at Addaction [a UK-based drug and alcohol treatment charity]. When I first met him he told me about Addaction and what they do, and different ways he can help me. He also asked me stuff about what I like doing. I like to do music, so he takes some time out to go with me to the studio once a week. Addaction also helps me with homework and coursework – I take it there once a week. I found that’s helped me to cut the cannabis down a lot.
So you haven’t stopped taking it?
Not totally, not yet. It was out of control. The aim at first was to keep it under control, but I do intend to stop completely.
What impact did cannabis have on your life/school work?
A really large impact. I wasn’t able to concentrate properly in school, so I couldn’t really get a lot of work done. My friends noticed that I’d stopped really interacting with them that much. It affected my family too – I wouldn’t have time to look after my little brother, who’s three, because I was in my room, smoking and feeling lazy.
And you look after him now?
Yes. It seems like I’ve got a lot more time to spend with him. It makes things better with my mother too, because she has more time to relax. It was always hard on her, and my dad’s not around.
How long will you stay with Addaction?
I’ll stay with them till I feel I don’t need their assistance anymore and that I can do it by myself.
* Name has been changed.