Daniel’s Story

I was born in South London into a loving home with very busy parents. I wasn’t academic but interested in art & music. I was always playing up at school and associated with older lads, all of whom smoked cannabis and were as disinterested about school as I was. At 11yrs old I was smoking cannabis daily and experimenting with recreational drugs such as LSD, speed and ecstasy in and out of school hours until I was eventually expelled for drug dealing. By the age of 16 I was selling and cultivating cannabis to feed my growing drug habit. Amongst the guys I hung out with cocaine use was the norm so I started dealing the drug. Eventually, due to my excessive cocaine use, I became extremely unstable and paranoid and my associates started to feel uncomfortable around me. To deal with this paranoia I started using heroin.

By the time I was 18 my cocaine use had escalated to crack cocaine use and I was injecting both crack and heroin on a daily basis. I simply couldn’t function or cope with life without these drugs. Due to the extent of my addictions I started supporting my drug habit through crimes such as theft, fraud, deception and drug dealing. I was constantly wanted by the police and felt like I was living life on a knife’s edge, always waiting for the next disaster. For 23 years of my life I went in and out of the prison the system on more than 40 different occasions and wasted over 8 years of my life behind bars. My life had become a cycle of crime, drugs and jail.

When I reached 39 years of age I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was suffering from hepatitis C and I had no veins left on my body where I could inject – I was on the brink of death. My mum gave me the number for E-gangs. I eventually arranged to meet Paul and he told me about how Jesus Christ had changed his life through Teen Challenge. It was at that point that I made a conscious decision to change. I also believe that the moment I made that decision God took over and gave me a sense of hope. I decided to join Teen Challenge also.

The staff at Teen Challenge London were real and had taken many of the same wrong turns as I had. Because of this they were able to empathise with me at a time when I felt totally misunderstood. I then began to realise that it was no fluke that I had survived many life threatening situations in my time and that God had always been there protecting me. So, I became a Christian and made a commitment to God. Since then God has placed it on my heart to go back out into the world and reach out to people in serious addiction and young people who are at risk of taking the same path that I did. He has turned negative into positive. I have also gone on to meet the girl of my dreams who is now my wife. Jesus Christ has totally transformed my life and I now work alongside Paul mentoring and case working for E-gangs, now known as Exit Foundation. Only with God was I able to find strength and taste the fruits of hope.