In conversation with Thomas Delaney
Back in April, we partnered up with Phoenix Futures - a UK based charity supporting those fighting through drug and alcohol addiction - in honour of the launch of our first-ever merch store collection.
Breaking down the stigma that exists around addiction has always been the wider mission of ripple+, so we were eager to learn more about the implications of battling the issue.
We had the honour to sit down and speak to Thomas Delaney - public speaker, former drug addict and Phoenix Futures graduate.
THOMAS’S ADDICTION STORY
Thomas’s addiction story started like an innocent curiosity act, as some of his friends were experimenting with party drugs. Like most people, Thomas had what he describes as a ‘honeymoon’ period, doing drugs solely socially; however, he carried on consuming drugs for over 12 years after the first encounter. His drug of choice was ketamine. ‘People think ketamine is a party drug, but it’s so much more than that. I used to do it regularly, like a smoker would smoke,’ Thomas says.
Thomas described himself as a ‘functioning addict’: ‘I lived in a penthouse, I had an amazing career, I had a girlfriend…’, he says. This allowed him to keep his head high throughout the twelve years he spent battling his ketamine addiction. His addiction was somewhat under control until he was made redundant from his flourishing career. This caused his consumption to peak; ‘that’s when I lost it’, he says.
When losing his much-loved job, Thomas was left feeling purposeless. ‘In my eyes, I had become a complete utter failure, a laughingstock to my family and friends’, he says in his self-published Story of Addiction and Hope. ‘I weighed six stones at my lowest point. I went to the doctor to ask what was wrong with me, and they just said to “google it”. There was a bit of me that was like “let’s do it”, which got me to where I am today.
Right before taking himself to rehab, Thomas consumed a staggering 36 grams of ketamine. He warns people that the effects throughout his phase of heavy overconsumption were incredibly severe, contrary to popular belief. ‘When I was at my worst, it felt like someone was drilling a whole in my stomach - I’ve been curled up for three days in a hospital bed. The irony is, ketamine takes the pain away. To feel better, you need more ketamine - it gets rid of the pain for about 10 minutes’.
Years down the line, Thomas is grateful for it all. ‘If I still had the job and the penthouse and everything, I probably wouldn’t have gone to rehab.’
REMOVING THE STIGMA
When asked what the best way to tackle the problem is, Thomas thinks talking openly about addiction is the ultimate solution. He discourages traditional meetings and discussions in controlled environments only, stating that this is the only way people will remove the negative connotations associated with people who have battled addiction.
‘Imagine if you introduced yourself to people as a drug addict. I hate saying it because of the negative connotations. Talking to you guys now helps me, but that’s not how most recovery meetings go down’, he explains, highlighting the importance of shifting the conversation and enabling the world to hear the real stories behind addiction.
'We need to encourage people to speak about it so the stigma around addiction can be removed. People wouldn’t tell other people that they are in recovery unless they are in a meeting - it’s not like you would go to the shop and say you are a recovering drug addict.’
Thomas is currently working towards climbing Mount Everest in the name of recovery, hoping that his journey will help inspire others. ‘I want to prove the world a point’, he says, highlighting that this milestone will prove to everyone that recovery and change is possible. ‘Everyone thinks addicts are f**king useless; most drug addicts themselves think they’re useless’. Thomas knows that achieving a milestone like climbing the tallest mountain in the world will help both the outside world and addicts themselves challenge this (self) perception.
Thomas openly shares his story with multiple outlets, and hopes to be the inspiration for others to get clean. ‘I can ring my brother now, and he won’t be worried. My mum won’t cry her eyes out wondering what I’m on, where I am, whether I’m in hospital, alive or dead. F*ck everything else, that’s all that really matters. Seeing people change when they get off drugs is absolutely magical’, he concludes.
For more information on Phoenix Futures and their amazing initiatives, please visit https://www.phoenix-futures.org.uk
Read Thomas’s Story of Addiction and Hope here.
Connect with Thomas on Facebook here.
Follow Thomas on Instagram here.