A day in the life of Vernon…


My name is Vernon Bailey, and I’m a recovering addict, and I work with CAIS at Hafan Wen as a Heathcare Support Worker.

I’m a recovering addict, I’ll still have them behaviours inside me, but I choose not to use them. I choose to funnel them out now to use them in a good way, rather than in my devious ways. Addiction is not going to rob me of anything anymore.

You can get free from addiction, it’s do-able. It’s hard work at times, but it’s as easy or as hard as you want to make it. You’ve got to ‘train hard, to fight easy’. They taught me that in the Army. I train hard, every day now, up here, and it makes the rest of my life so easy.

I love life now, and I never thought I’d say that. 18 months ago, I wanted to die. I thought I had nothing to live for, but I’ve got everything to live for now and I love my life, so go for gold people.

(In Welsh)

Two years ago, I started back on heroin and crack cocaine. I also had a lot of prescription drugs; pregablin, diazepam and dihydracodeine. It started when I went to Glan Clwyd hospital for alcohol detoxification. I had a blood clot.

I was operated on and, upon waking, I always remember the Doctor asking if I wanted any pain relief. “What have you got?” “I’ve got dyhracodeine “

He didn’t need to say anything else. I said “yes I will have that”. I had that. I then thought what else would be nice? Diazepam. I then went to the Dr and said “I am not feeling so good, I suffer from anxiety” he gave me diazepam.

I left hospital with diazepam and dihydracodeine. I then went to my GP and, one way or another, I talked my Doctor ‘round to give me pregablin.

So what I did was, Mon, Tues, Wednesday tablets and Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday I went on heroin and crack cocaine. I spiralled out of control and before I knew it I was trying to hold a job down (impossible), so my morning ritual was, because I wasn’t sleeping, I would just have a little vodka to calm me down, and it went from quarter bottle to half bottle before work. Before I knew it, half bottle of vodka, couple of splifs, few lines of coke, bit of heroin just to calm me down and that was my morning ritual, oh, and via the Spar to get 6 cans before dinner.

(In English)

I managed to get through it, and I went to a place called ‘Phoenix Futures’ on the Wirral. 3-4 weeks in to it, when I started to ‘get’ the programme, and pick things out of the programme, asking the right people the right questions. Because you have 30 peers there, let’s say average of 10 years of addiction, that’s 300 years between them, of knowledge. You can’t get no better counsellor than that. We used to fire questions off each other and pick each other’s behaviours out, point them out, and work on them.

How did you start working in social care?

I finished my rehab, which took 5 months. It was more than enough. I phoned Mel, as I remember Mel saying ‘If you stay 6 months clean, I’ll get you a job here’. So I phoned Mel and said “can I take you up on that offer?”

I started voluntary and did that for about 3 months, and I’m working here now. I have a job here now.

I’m half way through my Level 3 NVQ now. I’ve done Level 1 and 2 while I had ‘commitments’ to do in rehab. While you’re a ‘senior’, you’re allowed 2 days out of the house and you can do whatever you want, they call them ‘commitments’. But I wasn’t going to waste that, so I put them to good use, I went to college and I started my Health and Social Care with Drug Misuse, to get the Level 1 and 2. I managed to do the both of them in 12 weeks. I had a lot of help from the tutor, fair play to her. She wanted to get me through them as I much as I wanted to get through them.

So the idea is that I’d like to get my Level 3 done this year, 4 and 5 next year and then, the main one I want to get, is my degree. Never had one, and I’ve always wanted one, and I am going to get one.

What do you enjoy about working in social care?

Most of all I like supporting the ones who are struggling, giving them reassurance, that it’s do-able. I’ve been on their journey. They’ve got to go through what they’re going through at the moment, but with that added support and knowing that I’m a recovering addict, and I’ve done it, gives them that extra support. Hopefully it gives them a bit of inspiration.

I’ve had a few coming through here now, I shouldn’t have my favourites, but I do. We all do. We’re human beings aren’t we? You do get this massive ‘high’ from helping these people coming through the detox, from day one to day of leaving. Its nice seeing ‘winners’ go through that door. We all know then, as team, we have given them 100% and possibly, we’ve saved their lives.

What would you say to someone who wanted to work in social care?

I don’t really know, all I can say is that it’s such a rewarding job. Because I’m so passionate about it, there’s no right or wrong answers. It’s an amazing job to be with. I work with an amazing team here, from the management down to us ‘healthcare’. We all just gel and work like a team. It’s an amazing job to be in. I wish I would have done it years ago.

I’ve got nothing but love for the girls here. They nursed me back to health. I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the healthcare team here, and the nurses of course and the doctors. I would not be here. When people out there are just fed up listening to you, because you’ve been going round and round like a broken record, when you come in places like this, you’ve got that first line is that ‘healthcare’, and they sit down and listen to you.  They don’t care if its 3 o’clock in the morning, they’re just there for you.

It’s an amazing team here, and amazing team, and I’m so proud of myself for being a part of it.

Diolch Vernon!


Posted on 05 June 2019