A man who took drugs for the first time aged 12 has revealed how lockdown helped convince him to go clean.
Nav Phoenix, 36, has been clean for 15 months and is now using his own experiences to establish a charity for those with addiction.
The dad, from London, reached breaking point during the pandemic which helped him give up drugs.
He said: “It’s an amazing feeling.
“Words can’t describe the feeling of saving someone’s life and watching them grow and turn it all around.
“Recently, I had a message from a 20-year-old who suffered with depression and a cocaine problem.”
He added: “He sent me a suicide note and asked me to post it on my Instagram so people knew what he had been through.
“I said: ‘No you tell your story yourself. But you tell it once you come through this. I am by your side every step of the way’.
“I told him I have been there myself. I knew the pain he was feeling.
“I said we would fight together and told him I would help him turn his life around.
“We set out a plan and now he is back in the gym, has moved out of the squat and into a shared house, got a job and is progressing.
“He is also not using anymore.”
The dad-of-two started taking drugs as a teenager and believes his days of living with an addiction meant he can help people.
He added: “I was 12 years old when I first started taking drugs. I had a bad upbringing from my family.
“When I was introduced to drugs, they filled the hole that was missing.
“My drug use continued all through my teenage years and it spiralled out of control.”
At the age of 17, Nav was driving a car during a crash that killed his best friend.
Although he was charged with death by dangerous driving, he was later found not guilty.
But the grief and court case saw his addiction escalate.
He admitted: “I didn’t want to be alive anymore, so I used to drink and take drugs from the minute I woke up until night.”
Nav moved to Spain in 2006 and back to London in 2007 where he met his future wife Kasey, now 35.
He tried to stop in 2012 but after setting up a business and his twins were born, the cycle of addiction continued.
And when lockdown hit in March 2020, his drug use spiralled even further out of control.
Once he even went on a 11-week bender where he used every day.
He said: “My wife got me a call with a doctor who diagnosed me with depression, PTSD and cocaine-induced psychotic behaviour.
“I tried to take my life twice. I couldn’t see a way out of this hell I was in. My body felt like it was cooking from the inside out.
“My daughter heard me and my wife talking and she said ‘Daddy please don’t go to heaven’.
“I replied ‘I can’t promise that, we will all die one day’.
“Her face dropped so pinky promised I would walk you down the aisle. She said ‘how long is that?’ and I said ‘a very long time’.
“That day I made a choice to fight.”
He gave his wife his phone and stayed inside for three days to get the cocaine out of his system.
Nav slowly weaned off the tramadol he was taking as he was worried it was too dangerous to stop suddenly.
Now 15 months on, Nav is clean, working as a life coach and has written a book called The Rise of the Phoenix about his experiences.
He said: “It’s crazy how your life can flip 360 degrees in 15 months.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a hard road but I am now in such a positive place, a happy place and helping so many.
“I will push to help as many people as I can as I know what it feels like to be at rock bottom and have no one to help you out.”
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Nav is aiming to create a forum for mental health, addictions and establish a charity to support others.
In light of World Mental Health Day, Nav added: “If you suffer from depression, the first hour of the day is the most important.
“If you get up, go downstairs, sit down and don’t do anything, your day will go bad and you will start overthinking.
“I get up every day and get on my bike for 45 mins. That way I have already achieved something in my day.
“It’s all about setting your day up for a win.”
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.