06 March 2024

Becoming Captain: a new beginning for Dan

Dan R
If I hadn’t gotten support when I did, I wouldn’t be here today. But because I sought help – and because there were people there who were willing to help me – I’ve been given a second chance at life.

Dan, Recovery Worker, Shropshire

Dan's story

After a significant trauma in his childhood, Dan turned to alcohol and drugs to get him through each day. For nearly two decades, Dan self-medicated away the pain. But then Dan’s world fell apart and he tried to take his own life.

Thanks to support from drug, alcohol and mental health services and a newfound love for playing and coaching rugby, today, Dan’s life couldn’t be more different. Dan is now the captain of the Telford Hornets Rugby Club and he works at Shropshire Recovery Partnership, which is delivered by WithYou, a national drug and alcohol treatment charity.

Where did it all start?

“I was sexually assaulted as a child, but I didn’t talk to anyone about it. When I drank alcohol, it didn’t hurt as much, it was like this blanket that took away some of the pain.

“I started taking drugs at the age of 18 and continued to use them to self-medicate, as for me, this was easier than talking to someone. I thought I was in control, but I wasn’t.

“Then COVID came and my life just blew up. Lockdown meant that I couldn’t see my friends and couldn’t work, and I lost the little purpose I had left. Over seven months, I racked up nearly £10,000 of debt from my drink and drug use. I didn’t see a way out and it felt like an insurmountable task to get my life back on track. So I tried to take my own life.”

What support did you seek?

After a chance encounter with an old friend and with his parents’ help, Dan started a rehab programme, began volunteering for WithYou, and found a new passion for keeping fit and active.

“I started going to the gym and playing and coaching rugby. Having something active to throw myself into helped to release stress and it became a way for me to deal with the emotions that I’d spent nearly two decades trying to block out. But more than that, it gave me a purpose."

What is life like now?

“I’ve just been made the captain of Telford Hornets Rugby Club. It’s a real circular moment for me – not many people who’ve come from a place where I’ve been get to be team captain of a community Rugby club."

Dan, what's your what’s your message to others who may be experiencing challenges?

“If I had to share one piece of advice, it would be to ask for help. There is no shame in needing support. There are so many organisations out there who care and who are ready and waiting to help you.”

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