“It is like being born again, I will never go back to drugs, never again.”
That is passionate war cry of 39-year-old Che Yarnold, from Stroud Road, Gloucester.
The volunteer at Gloucester’s Emergency Accommodation Resource (Gear), which works with homeless people, has spent the last 10 months free from drugs and alcohol.
A former addict for 19 years, Che enrolled himself into one of Gear’s two dry houses after spending more than three years sleeping rough.
He started his addiction when he was just 13, and despite going to school and Worcester College, he was only looking for more drugs.
“Those were some dark times, they were very difficult for my family and me,” he said.
“I was addicted to drugs, and access to drugs was easy when I was younger. They just took me to another place, but I didn’t understand how much it harmed me and the people I love around me.
“I split up with my partner years ago, and just went to stay in the street.
“I couldn’t stop it, those years were really tough.”
The father-of-one approached Gear Projects eight years ago, and started using their day centre services.
But as things got worse, he grew apart from his teenage daughter and severed contact.
He added: “I didn’t want her to see me in that state. I played an active part of her growing up, but for a year before I started the dry programme, I couldn’t face up to it.
“I was at rock bottom. That’s when I decided enough was enough. I got into the dry programme, and it was difficult, very difficult. Without them, I don’t know where I’ll be.”
And 26 weeks later, he came out a changed man. The dry house allows former addicts to stay for up to nine months to help with their rehabilitation and to find a career.
For Che, it was a no-brainer. He is now looking to enrol in a counselling course at Gloucestershire College at the end of January, and continue working with Gear.
But until then, he will be enjoying time with his daughter over the New Year and restarting his life again.