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Craig’s Story (Part 2) (told by his brother Stewart)

Craig: The Later Years

When Craig reached his 30s he was often in trouble with the law and spent several short stints in jail for misdemeanors. Over the years there has been ample evidence-based research to show that the criminal system is not the right place for people suffering from addiction and this was very evident in Craig’s life; what he really needed at this point was the right treatment and to feel like he was fitting into society.

Craig met his partner in 2012 and this was the start of their relationship. During their time together they had a lot more downs than ups, but their love for each other would always shine through. He often spoke about their plans for getting married and hopes of having kids.

Sadly, their need to feel valued and appreciated along with their childhood trauma drove them more and more into substance use. Craig had aspirations to visit me in Canada, but it was very difficult for him to see how this would ever happen, as his very basic needs were not being met. Over the years Craig become more overweight, which added to his depression and anxiety. Craig also started to suffer from many health-related issues that were always a burden on his daily life.

After hearing from Craig about his struggles trying to navigate the NHS addictions and mental health system, I started to advocate for Craig. Craig was often upset that the medication that he was prescribed for his depression and anxiety was not helping and that he had to wait for very long periods of time to receive appointments. The NHS expected Craig to just stop taking his street medication and completely stop drinking alcohol, which is not realistic at all given the daily struggle that he had to endure. Craig was often forgotten about or discarded for not making his appointments on time.

Craig’s partner passed away in early 2019, which was a hard blow for Craig to deal with as they were in one of their down stages and not living with each other at the time. Craig was staying in supported living accommodations in Annan with an ankle bracelet, which was mandated by the court system after his last brush with the law. To add to his already depressed and anxiety ridden mind he also had to deal with being on a curfew and the shame that is associated with wearing an ankle bracelet. Craig would often tell me that he had to have a few cans of beer every day just to be able to leave his house and to face other humans, which was sad but a reality for him with the lack of support and direction that he was given.

After spending about 6 months in the supported living building Craig was assigned to a house in Langholm. I had some concerns about how isolated Craig might be given that he needed to be around like-minded people to feel socially acceptable and close to the supports that he desperately needed. Craig also did not feel like he was ready to move, but was informed that if he did not accept this house then he would be made homeless. Once Craig moved to his house in Langholm he was very excited to decorate and make it as homely as possible. I found it reassuring that he was so excited and looking forward to the future again and had a small project to keep him focused.

In the next update I’ll talk about life after Craig’s death and how I’m trying to advocate for change.