Rushden parks chosen for former drug and alcohol users' colourful new year messages of hope
Members of a group for drink and drug addicts in recovery have clubbed together to fund a graffiti art mural highlighting their life-changing service.
People who attend one of the weekly Cocaine Anonymous meetings in Rushden have been given the mural art space by Rushden Town Council to advertise the group's work.
Cocaine Anonymous' logo and contact details will adorn part of the Jubilee Park skate park in Bedford Road and a wall near to the Spencer Park tennis courts in Washbrook Road.
The founder of the Rushden Saturday evening group, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "Quiet honestly, it saved my life. I, and many other thousands of people, have recovered from drug addiction as a result of Cocaine Anonymous. Not only that, it placed me back within the heart of a family with a purpose of helping others.
"Rushden Town Council have been fantastic. We had a stall at the Christmas lights switch-on and they have backed us. They are really trying to make inroads with the drug problem in Rushden."
The 37-year-old former builder, who has been drink and drug-free for three and a half years, moved to Irthlingborough from Northampton, has recently married and started his own business.
He was helped to beat his addiction with help from members of Cocaine Anonymous (CA) - a mutual aid fellowship - that works with the 12-step programme in the same was as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Rushden's Saturday Cocaine Anonymous meeting helps people addicted to any mind-altering substance including Class A drugs - heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine - Class B drugs such as cannabis, prescription medication and alcohol.
The father of two had been attending CA meetings but his life had spiralled out of control until he had lost his job and contact with his family including his children.
Down to nine stone and penniless, shoplifting to fund his habit, he had been sitting in a crack den when he came to his senses.
He said: "I had a gut-level experience that I was on a path of certain death. My existence was pain. I was powerless. I reached out to two men who I know from Cocaine Anonymous. They came to my door and got me. I went into Recovery House - six-bed rehab unit in Rushden - that was August 2016.
"I went through the six-steps over six months. In the last month, my sponsor took me through the 12-steps.
"Now I sponsor multiple men two have been clean for a year.
"There is help out there. People don't have to go through that misery. In every single pub in every single town people are using cocaine.
"This illness doesn't discriminate. I was a very ill person. All the morals I had instilled in me as a child went. I was powerless. We're not inherently bad people - we do bad things.
Now, the Irthlingborough newlywed, who met his wife whilst in recovery, wants to encourage anyone whose life is affected by addiction to get in touch with the group or meet the members when the graffiti artist produces the mural on from 10am on Sunday, January 5 2020.
He said: "We want people to come along. We are willing to talk to family members or to addicts.
"I can now give back. I wouldn't change any of it. Through that experience in that dark place I have a unique way to help addicts and I have a unique ability to connect with them in the darkness. I have this purpose."