A long road to recovery from heroin addiction

Christopher Mallett hopes sharing his experience with addiction  will help others.
Christopher Mallett hopes sharing his experience with addiction will help others.

Heal the Hurt, a local addiction charity promises no appointment and allows addicts to start counselling the same day. An aspect which has proved life-saving for member, Christopher Mallett.

Regarded as a miracle among the group, Christopher, originally from Galliagh, battled 23 years of drug addiction until his near-death experience last year provided him with the wake up call he needed.

Christopher spent six weeks in intensive care after developing sepsis

Christopher spent six weeks in intensive care after developing sepsis

Following six weeks in Intensive Care at the Royal Victoria hospital, after developing sepsis from injecting heroin, Heal the Hurt founder Liam Stewart and the Friars were on hand to support him through recovery.

Christopher hopes by sharing his experience with addiction, he can prove to others that recovery is possible. Taking ‘gateway’ drugs from the age of 12, he progressed to harder drugs, most prevalently heroin, and first overdosed at the age of 19.

“I just liked the feeling and buzz alcohol and drugs gave me,” he said. “I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol but I just wanted to achieve the feeling of confidence it gave me. I started smoking cannabis when I was 12 and it got worse from there.”

The 35 years-old spoke of feeling ‘condemned’ as an addict. Following a period of self-exile and at his lowest point, he found himself homeless and ‘hooked on gear’ on the streets of Dublin. His father made the three hour drive to find his son slumped next to a bus stop; an episode Christopher had no recollection of. “The last thing I remember was being in Dublin and when I woke, I was back home in Derry.”

After receiving a death threat five years ago, which was only lifted after his involvement with Heal the Hurt, Christopher asserted the ‘constant fear’ for his own safety increased his drug use in an effort to stem it. “I thought it would help me deal with things, when actually it opened the gates of hell,” he explained.

Dealing with the onset of psychosis during an episode that lasted 170 hours, Christopher was convinced there was a bomb somewhere in his home. This ultimately saw him spend time in Grangewood acute mental health facility at Gransha.

With Christopher having previously completed numerous substitute programmes, which left him still feeling chemically hooked, his father as a last resort, reached out to Liam asking for help. That same night the two met and Christopher began his life’s most difficult journey - an addict’s road to recovery.

After four months with the charity, he suffered a relapse and was rushed to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital. Clinically dead on the operating table, losing copious amount of blood and with sepsis taking hold of his body, Christopher’s parents were called.

“Both myself and my parents were accepting of my fate- that heroin would kill me eventually,” he added. “I’d spent time in prison, my mum has had to resuscitate me on Christmas Eve. I’d done bad things but I wasn’t a bad person- I just couldn’t see a life beyond addiction.”

After six weeks in intensive care, Christopher pulled through to make a miraculous recovery.

Given a second chance at life, he was eager to return to Heal the Hurt, and without the guidance of Liam, Christopher claims he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“When I walked through that door at Heal the Hurt, I left everything behind,” he said “I felt unconditional love and acceptance. We’ve all walked the same path here and there’s comfort in that.”

Now seeing addiction as an illness and looking forward to a life beyond, Christopher is keen to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. He concluded, “If telling my story helps even one person, then it’s worth it.”

Contact HealtheHurt 0778391 0072