Stephen’s story

02 Dec 2022

A challenging upbringing in Swansea resulted in addiction and crime becoming the norm

At age 28, a drug and alcohol-fuelled evening of crime led to Stephen realising he needed to change.

Read Stephen’s story

Stephen's story - Wallich service user in Swansea turns life around

A chaotic childhood

“I committed a crime at the age of nine. That’s when it all started for me.

I lost my dad at a young age. He got murdered – stabbed to death. I had difficulties with living on a daily basis without him, so I turned to drugs.

My older brothers used to sell drugs, so there was always heroin and crack cocaine in the house.

When they’d go out, I’d just cut on the board and take what I want without them knowing. And that’s how I got a habit.

I used to take heroin just to numb all the pain that was going on. It stuns all your emotions and feelings so you can just get on with other stuff.

I was doing burglaries, shoplifting, I was begging on the streets, just to fund my habit.

I managed to get onto a methadone script at the age of 16.

I’ve been in and out of prison for most of my life. I didn’t feel I had that family support, it was really hard.

I lost my mum then. She had an accidental overdose. We all made a promise to her on her deathbed, that we would become the person she wanted us to be deep down.

We all said our ‘ta-ra’s on her deathbed. Then I think I went back to Llanelli because I’d met some girl. I was doing well for months.”

The night that changed everything

“One of my best mates come up, I hadn’t seen him for a few months. It was nice to see him, but he had some bad news that he’d lost his dad.

Instead of me saying a good thing like ‘Come on, let’s watch a film and get a pizza’, I just decided to go down the pub and get hammered.

We had drugs on us. I had a few beers and a dance around the pub. I just can’t remember from then, I blacked out.

The police interviewed me: ‘You committed four burglaries that night, used credit cards to get scratch cards, more beer, more cigarettes’. It was hard for me to picture. I was like, ’Serious?’

I was disappointed with myself because I was doing pretty good. It was only until this time that I wanted to put work in and change my ways.”

Positive progress in prison

“Whilst I was in prison, I was doing the Twelve Steps [A programme designed for people to help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol].

I was working on my addiction, my feelings, my emotions.

I’d be going to meetings in prison and listening to people’s stories and be like ‘You know, it can be done.’

I knew of The Wallich because another inmate had applied for it as well.

I was asking him questions, ’What’s it about? What does it do?’ He explained to me that it works on managing your own place, managing your money.

And that’s the kind of stuff I wanted to do, because I’ve had everything done for me all my life. So, when it actually came to me doing it, I found it hard.

I’ve got a few learning difficulties, which I’m working on, it’s work in progress.


I got out.

I got involved in courses, getting involved in WCADA, doing the 12 steps.

One of the steps is that ‘You have to believe that no mind-altering stuff can control your body.’

But I was still on the meth.

I was coming down gradually and gradually, and to be honest I had a few sneezes, a bit of achy legs here and there, but it all worked out well.”

Support from The Wallich

“Support from the staff has been amazing. They [Stephen’s Support Workers] had been through addiction, so they know what to expect from you.

It makes you push a bit more. You know, people aren’t messing around, and they take things seriously.

The staff have been really helpful.

If there is anything I need done, they’re straight on it.

They’re very nice, very kind.

We went up the rescue centre to walk the dogs and help them clean out. That was first thing in the morning, but it’s so nice go out, walk the dogs, get out of your head and do normal things.

It’s been a lovely journey at The Wallich.

I done the WISE course as well. That really helped me a lot, building my self-esteem, my confidence.


The graduating bit was just so special for me, because I’ve never actually done something like that before.

I was a part of something.

I’m still a work in progress. Still learning how to live life to the full.”

What does Stephen want for the future?

“Hopefully a little part-time job. Hopefully I’ll have my own place, somewhere nice and quiet, down by the beach. I like my fishing a lot.

Driving; that’s one thing that’s on my list. I really want to get my driver’s license.

I applied for a passport. It’s the first time I’ve had a passport in… I can’t even remember. I don’t think I’ve ever had a passport.

It’s just nice to keep your options open. I could go around the world if I wanted to. I could never of done that, back then. I didn’t even know what day it was.”

If you’ve been affected by any of the topics mentioned in this case study, help and support is available. Visit our Help & Advice page to find out more.

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