It was around 1987, and I was working in my first job since leaving school. I was a trainee Pharmacy Technician in a small town called Padiham. A change in health policy meant that many people who had been in-patients were discharged from a hospital called Calderstones and placed into something being called care in the community. Calderstones was one of several hospitals classed at the time as being for the mentally ill. It was home to people who society over the years classed as outcasts. Some of the patients, a term I use loosely, were deaf people who struggled to speak; placing young women in an institution after giving birth and some people who had a variety of mental illnesses. I remember the re-homing of a couple of people in communal accommodation not far from the chemist where I worked.
When you think of someone who takes drugs—a drug addict—what springs to mind? From my experience, people will offer a variety of replies. Usually, they describe how they perceive how people look, often saying things like dirty, homeless, rude, violent, problems. Then the description will move on to the crime and violence associated with drugs. The effects of the drug world impact all the communities we live in, but what most people don't realise is that it doesn't have to be this way.