“It’s time to alter the narrative – cease demonising and vilifying the susceptible.”
That’s the view of George Charlton, a former drug user who turned his life round and vowed to reform the way police forces deal with drug addicts.
George, 47, began smoking cigarettes and joints at the age of 14, and shortly progressed onto MDMA, amphetamines and different Class A medicine.
His habits led him to crime, emotional instability and a suicide try which resulted in him being enrolled onto a 12-month rehabilitation programme.
But this was the second which led him to find his ardour for schooling and embark on a 20-year profession reworking the way people living with addiction are considered by society.
George, from South Tyneside, stated: “As a society we have been instructed we should always demonise the most susceptible people in our communities and I knew altering this notion was going to be my vocation.
“I had skilled 15 years of that mind-set and needed to make use of my lived expertise to form different peoples’ opinions.”
He added: “Before rehab I had no route, I used to be damaged and I needed to die. I could not see a way out and I felt had nothing – the group did not need me, my buddies did not need me.
“I solely had my dad and mom left and I knew my selections had been making them sick – in truth I used to be killing them.”
George had been out of rehab six months when, aged 28, he began delivering coaching and sharing a few of his personal deeply private lived expertise of substance abuse.
And after assembly with a Northumbria Police Drugs Liaison Officer, in Byker, they agreed to work collectively to radically reform the attitudes in direction of people who discover themselves caught up in the cycle of addiction, and lift consciousness of the points they face.
George stated: “When I visited Byker Station to speak about how we’d roll-out this new coaching I realised it was the first time I’d been in a station with out handcuffs.
“I undoubtedly held my very own biases in opposition to officers and was weary of them due to my previous and the truth I used to be usually locked-up for shoplifting and medicines offences.”
He added: “Nineteen years on I’m nonetheless delivering coaching to police forces throughout the county – and what I need to say is that if I can do that, so can anybody.
“I actually must say ‘thanks’ to Northumbria Police – their foresight and perspective again then exhibits how dedicated they’re to this space of labor.
“They had been so forward of the recreation – we’re speaking about twenty years of coaching officers and new recruits utilizing lived expertise – it is an actual progressive perspective.”
George began coaching as a counsellor in 2003 and certified with a Diploma in particular person centred apply in 2005 earlier than occurring to finish a Master of Arts in Social Sciences and Health at Durham University in 2006.
He has continued to work with Northumbria Police and just lately skilled a brand new cohort of Drugs Expert Witnesses, who work throughout the Force and assist calculate the worth of seizures and perceive the true influence substances are having on communities.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods stated: “Northumbria Police recognises the must evolve and develop in the ever-changing battle in opposition to organised crime and drug-related offences.
“With George’s assist we’ve invested in educating our medicine consultants and people investigating drug-related crimes in order that we higher perceive the influence medicine can have on our communities.
“With that higher understanding we’re in a position to help the susceptible and develop into more and more efficient in bringing to justice those that prey on the vulnerabilities of others and in some circumstances have traditionally been perceived as ‘untouchable’.”
Organisations and charities reminiscent of the NHS, Mind, and Talk to Frank provide a variety of assist and help companies by way of their web sites and extra about George’s journey will be discovered on his website.