Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.



“I’m Bez and I am a coke addict”.

My ears pricked up when I heard mention of one of my favourite vices. 

Maybe this boring, useless meeting would be worth staying awake for!

“I have an addiction to coke and I’ve been clean for eight months, three weeks and two days”.

Polite round of applause from the rehab. group and even I made a half hearted attempt to clap and look impressed.  I get the feeling that Bez has maybe said all this before, many times before.

 Now, do I doze off and hope no-one notices or shall I give this group thing a bash?  Whilst I hate to admit it, even I, who is not one to traditionally follow the rule book – I kinda realize that the more groups I do, the more clapping I do, the more navel gazing and “mother my dog” lamenting I engage in, the quicker the powers that be will decide I’m cured and send me home so I can get back to my life – my fun, happy, boozy, ‘tripping off my tits’ life.

So, after making the decision to pretend to engage with this drivel, I sit up in my seat, feeling the hard, uncomfortable wooden struts of the chair digging into my rump. 

Oh great, just what I need – the lovely Bez, his ability to avoid the devil that is cocaine for a good hour and a seat that has taken issue with me and is slowing chewing my arse!  Bloody great!

As I sit, squirming, trying to give my butt some respite – the very clean and proud Bez kicks off with his story and I kick off with my attempt of fake redemption of my terrible ways.

“I’m Bez and a coke addict and I’ve been clean for eight months, three weeks and two days”. 

Yes, I know Bez – just cut to the chase, will you?

“I was born in Glasgow, my Ma and Da drank, but then everyone did where I grew up – it was what people did – to deal with the crap that they lived with.

I had my first proper drink when I was four – at my brother’s wake.  I sat under the coffin with Billy McKlusky and had a wee dram – as my Ma would say – it was Scotch and I remember how it burned down through me, the smell, the heat, the dirty yellow of it and although it made me sick as a dog a few minutes later, even the smell as it came back up was something special, something to like. 

As I grew up there was always booze and fags around – me Ma smoked, my Da smoked and then so did I.

 I had my first smoke at five.  I nicked a couple of cigs out of me Ma’s handbag, snuck out the back with me mates, Billy and his little brother Tommy, down out of our back yard, out past the cobbled track that ran from where I lived to the railway yard. 

I stood there, all macho in me cousin’s hand-me-downs, my hair slicked back with spit and a dab of marg, with me Ma’s hand-me-down battered fag in my mouth – lit and smoky and after taking that first drag down feeling me guts coming up to meet the ciggie.

I wanted so much to be a real man, not a nancy boy who couldn’t handle his drink and drugs, but as I swallowed down the puke in my throat and tried to stop the acrid wetness from flying out of my nose, I knew I was gonna have to work at it.

“I won’t bore you with the chunk of my life from then to when it gets really interesting – just to say, I drank at four, I smoked at five, thieved at six and fucked when I was ten – and by then I’d reached the dizzying heights of being a proper man. 

When I was twelve I was a runner for the local firm, taking a bit of this, dropping off a bit of that and loving every minute of it.  It was about this time I discovered Cannabis and from that first little borrowed  bit of puff and happiness, I realized that if I had felt love for my first drink of Scotch, it was only a boy’s childlike crush in comparison to something that proved to be more a love of my life than any girl could ever be.

“A few years later, I got into bikes, motor, not push variety and with the money I had coming in from my rather dodgy career, I had ample to get a big, loud, smelly beast of a bike.

“I could talk for hours about my first bike for the rest of the evening but that’s not why we are here, why I am here – just to say – the first time I sat astride her, I felt the hot, meaty throbbing of the engine between my thighs and almost shot my load right there and then.”

The mention of what almost happened with Bez and what lives between his thighs had me focusing on what he was actually saying and not just the rise and fall of his voice. 

I actually sat up, stopped gazing at my feet and looked at the man who called himself Bez.  Tall, maybe 6’1”, 6’2”, shoulder length mad black dog hair, tied back with a bit of well chewed leather thong, dressed in leather trousers, a red T-shirt and a black leather waistcoat and huge pair of clumpy heavy biker boots.  A lot of silver jewellery, a matching mad looking moustache and eyes the colour of burnt golden syrup. 

Whilst I don’t normally go for the biker type, too macho and sexist for me and always covered in grease, oil and bits of bike, I could have made an exception for him. 

Whoa – girl, down dog – maybe what the all knowing doctors and staff here kept saying – ‘the addict, if deprived their addiction of choice, will latch on to any other addiction they can get their hands on’.  So, coz I can’t get a JD and Coke – drinkable or sniffable, I’m now sniffing after sex.  Help me Trisha, I’m a sex addict!  Oh please, what a load of tripe. 

And so, after stamping down on such a ridiculous thought and the uncomfortable itch of early lust, I brought my thoughts and eyes back to Bez and let myself fall back into his life.

“After that first bike, I never looked back, always buying new parts, always building my dream bike, always striving to make it perfect and when it was perfect, growing bored with it so quickly, it always caught me unawares – and then – as soon as the boredom came, crashing it, trashing it or hocking it on; and so on to the next dream bike and the next all consuming need to make perfect my dream – again.

“Somewhere, between the bikes, the booze, the puff and now running my own little firm of young un’s wanting to be the next big thing, the next big man, I got a girl pregnant, married her, had a fight with her brother, killed him, packed up my business interests and moved down to this neck of the woods. 

I left two days before my daughter was born – strangely enough we never had a really good relationship since then.”

I could believe the cheek of the man, but still wanting to hear his downfall, I tuned back in.

“It was moving down here finally I stopped acting the big man and actually started living as the big man – let’s just say, my business interests took off, far bigger and better than they ever had back home – down here – there was always more buyers for the commodities I had to sell – knock off – a bit of smack, drugs, guns and sometimes even girls.  Now, before you all get really pissed with – they were always legal – none of your kiddies pervs specials – that type of thing makes me sick to the stomach.

“Enough about my career – enough to say – I bought, I sold, I bought bigger, I sold better and with that came enough money to make me a happy man – but strangely enough – the more I made, the happier I thought I should have been, the more I couldn’t sleep when I was knackered.  The more I drank, the more I puffed and eventually the more I headed towards the ultimate love of my life – the thing that brings me here now – I remember the first time far better than my first fuck.  I was in a pub in Croydon – I say pub but your run-of- the-mill Croydonites with their fake gold and everything Burberry and the girls with their famous face lifts never drank or came near such places. 

So, there I was with a bunch of mates, Spaniel, Animal, big bollocks Benny and a handful of scummy dirty looking women (my favourite type) too much peroxide, too much scent and far too little covering them up, just sitting back and listening to some Sabbath tribute band churn out the same old offerings they always did, when one of the girls made a big old show of dancing in a very naughty way around me and gesturing me to follow her to the bogs. 

Now, never one to look a gift dog in the mouth, off I went into the dark,  dank, ripe smelling loos to get to know the young lady a bit better. 

Five minutes later of a bit better and a quick  clean up with what was left of her T-shirt and she starts cutting some lines of something white and crystally and shiny, rolls up a £20 note and takes a toot, then offers me said note and a couple of lines.    

 “Firstly, it felt weird, flying backwards up my nose, then numb and then fuck me, it was like 4th July had gone off in my head – Oh Man, it was absofuckinglutely fantastic – thought I had died and gone to heaven. 

After that I did it whenever I saw that girl and slowly I started doing it more and more with the girl and without, it didn’t matter to me.  It was like all my mates did it, had it, and therefore so did I.

“It got to the point I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself without it, couldn’t go with a girl without it, couldn’t run my business without it and more importantly, couldn’t even be bothered to ride my bike without it.

“It got to such a point me mates started calling me ‘Daniella’ after some bint off the television who had a similar love to mine of the Old Columbian marching powder.

“Shortly afterwards, it were about nine months ago now – my daughter came down to visit me and I was so coked off my tits I actually passed out whilst she was talking to me.  It cuts me to have to admit that whilst my baby girl – well, oh 12 year old – was visiting me for the first proper time and telling me about her Bratz collection, her school mates and her new Daddy, I had to pop to the loo for a couple of little pick-me-ups and I think it was after the fifth or sixth little pick-me-up – I actually passed out.  I ain’t seen her since.  It’s not that I don’t wanna see her, I really do, it’s just that she won’t see me.”

At this point a lot of the group were sitting nodding in agreement, like they’d all been there, like they all knew what he was feeling and making noises and gestures of encouragement.

But not me, I might have been a bit of a party girl, when the mood took me – which, oh might have been a tiny bit more than Mr. & Mrs. Norm, but not me –  I didn’t have a kid and if I had I would never have put drink or drugs before them.  I would have loved them and cared for them and always put them first – wouldn’t I? 

The nearest I had to that kinda connection was with my niece – Lulu – who I loved to bits.  Janie – my ‘Earth Mother fat cow of a sister’ sometimes left her with me whilst she want off to her yoga class, or pottery class or whatever self improvement jag she was currently on – and I never passed out in front of my girl Lulu. 

Yeah oh – sometimes I had a little something to knock off the rough edges before Janie and the baby came round – just so I’d be in a better frame of mind and be more happy, silly Auntie Lou than grouchy pissed off  Auntie Lou – but I did that for little Lulu – to make her time with me nicer.

And maybe there had been a couple of times when I’d been giving Lulu her bottle and had to stop and pop upstairs to freshen up a little and maybe I can vaguely remember a time when Lulu was watching me having a stiff JD – grabbed the glass and helped herself to a little sip or so – but it was so funny, she looked like a natural bar botherer, I didn’t have the heart to take it away from her and yeah – she might have got a bit sick after, but nothing that a wet wipe and a spoonful of Calpol couldn’t deal with.

But, I never passed out in front of her – if she stayed over with me – I’d wait till she was asleep and then I’d have a few lines, a little something to lift the spirits and I always made sure that the windows were closed, the front and back door locked and the baby gate on before I passed out.

So, after becoming quite self righteous about what a low life Bez actually was – I carried on listening to him and his tale of woe.

“After that time with my daughter it really started getting out of hand – I couldn’t eat, sleep, do anything without my shiny white lines of crutch – I had a couple of spills on my bike and after the last one me mates had just about had enough and brought me here to sort myself out.

And so, here I am – eight months, three weeks and two days and clean and counting – my name is Bez and I am an addict. 

To start with it was hard being here – no bike, no mates, no drugs, but gradually I’ve realized what a fuck up I was making of my old life, before here. 

The drugs I don’t miss now – that much.  My mates pop in occasionally to say Hi and show off their bikes and I find that the longer I am here the more at peace I feel – I don’t crave the drugs now, just a better life than what I had before, which God willing – I’ll achieve when I move on from here. 

“Thanks for listening.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Bez has now left the building!

So, was that it?

Was that the great secret of how to change your life forever?  If it was – then, sorry, but I missed it.  I thought that the whole idea of sitting in this chilly, unwelcoming room, full of addicts and losers (not me, however) was that one of them was going to give up the magic secret of how they got clean, how they can live their life free from drink, drugs, sex, gambling, goat bothering or whatever thing it is that flicks their switch, how they can go back to their lives outside of rehab. and live without excitement, without fun, without happiness?

I know that this being my first meeting unfortunately it won’t be my last. But I was hoping for something a little more than decaffeinated everything and Bez.

Maybe it’s because I’m new to all this stuff, but I don’t feel ready to carry on sitting on the butt munching seat whilst the group all simper and coo together over how well Bez has done.

I leave the hall and walk out into the night, back to my room.  The sky is black, the route back to the rooms is not particularly well lit – jeeze, you’d think that with what this place is costing they could get some decent lights fitted – a person could trip and do themselves a mischief here. 

The walk back is cold and dark, the sky is pitch black with a smattering of misty stars – the air is so cold I can feel it way down in my lungs and as I breath out a plume of white, frosty breath surrounds me.  I hear an owl call from somewhere near and I smell the chilled, green, piney smell that always reminds me of dark winter nights and I pick up my pace and hurry back to my room – eager for some warmth and comfort – neither of which I found at the meeting tonight. 

I miss Lulu, I miss my flat and I miss the fun I used to have; but I’m suddenly struck by the weirdest thought – that maybe, just maybe, my life had become somewhat unmanageable and that somewhere down the line my so-called ‘addiction’ to having a good time had rendered me powerless to stop and realize what was happening to me?


Maybe not?

Maybe I just got caught up in the moment of the thing – maybe I’m just homesick – just tired, just suddenly having to look at my life not through my beer goggles but stone cold sober and straight and suddenly not liking what I see.



The Begining

31st December

It was a cold, wet miserable day when they brought me to The Lostings.  

They being my ‘so-called’ beloved family, my ever moaning mother Jean, my perfect big sister Janie, her all knowing, all opinated husband, Billy and even my niece, baby Lulu came along for the ride.

 I must have really mucked up this time, because even my best mate made an appearance – and for Passion Matresse – aka big Gay Al – the butchest drag queen in South London to get out of his Egyptian cottons sheets before noon was really quite some feat, I can tell you.

 They had all, in their own ways been hinting, cajoling and finally threatening that this would eventually have to happen to make me see sense.

 As my sainted mother had said quite recently to me:

‘If you can’t stop mucking up your life, there are places we could send you that will stop that silly behaviour of yours – dead in its tracks’.

And, give her due, she wasn’t kidding.

 My name is Louise Mathews, I am 32, I have been dumped at The Lostings by mistake, I have been here for all of 2 hours and 37 minutes and I hate it already.

 This is what I learned about my rehab unit in the first few days I was there, I wish I could sound more informed but to be honest I had such a headache and felt so rough, you are lucky to get this brief description.

 You approach The Lostings from the Surrey/ Kent borders road.

 You don’t really know that you’ve arrived until you see the large wrought iron gates at the very last moment.

 One side of it backs on to a large country park and the other onto mile upon mile of disused factories and burnt out scrublands.

Bushes and trees poke out of the iron railings and gates as the hill slopes up to the entrance.

The gates have pedestrian access and swing inwards to allow car access to the property, those gates always get locked at night, regular as clockwork.

As you go through the gates, to your right is a modern looking house/office which serves as the booking in suite for the guests of The Lostings.

It is here that all the boring paperwork stuff is done, the checking in procedures, the payment options, cash up front, invoice, insurance covering the stay etc.

It is also here that the guests are allocated their rooms and their mentors/buddies.

 From here, you follow the path round – where it splits off either to the Doctor’s office and the meeting rooms/ rehab area or down to the dorms and rooms.

The Lostings is open to visitors from 9am until 4 in the winter and 9 – 6pm in the summer.

 Day visits by family and friends are positively welcomed but night visits are frowned upon as it is seen as too disruptive for the guests, too tempting or them.

 The family and friends are welcomed into the placing ceremony which happens when the guest/patient first comes to the Lostings.

Personal belongings are not initially encouraged but as the guest/ patient moves in and settles in – friends and family are able to bring in belongings to decorate the patient’s room.

There is a children’s unit on the boundaries of the property.

You don’t often see the little ones – except when they have one of their parties when they welcome a new patient and then the grounds are full of children and little ones running and crawling about.

 They admit a new person every 45 minutes, that’s how long it takes to process them.

 Admission starts 10am and last intake is at sharp 4pm.


And you can always book your place in advance; you never know when you might need it!