Drugs ruined my life

A FORMER raver has issued a stark warning to youngsters in Ipswich about the dangers of party drugs after speaking publicly of the depression and paranoia that led to him attempting to take his life on SIX separate occasions.

A FORMER raver has issued a stark warning to youngsters in Ipswich about the dangers of party drugs after speaking publicly of the depression and paranoia that led to him attempting to take his life on SIX separate occasions.

Gerald Armes, 34, told The Evening Star that years of using cannabis, ecstasy, speed and LSD messed with his mind and he is determined that others learn from his experience.

The drugs he used are often perceived as “soft” or “recreational” but Mr Armes claims he and a number of friends who began experimenting with the substances in the early 90s, are still coming to terms with the consequences.

At one point Mr Armes was so gripped by paranoid delusions that he would hear voices in his head that he believed to be God and the Devil.

He said: “At first it was an exciting scene.

“It was the period of all-night dance parties and I would go out and get busted and be a bit of a Jack-the-lad.

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“I thought I had found what I had been looking for all my life.

“My first E (ecstasy tablet) made me feel I was loved.

“It gave me a great feeling and you could tap into it any time you wanted for £15.

“Everyone would hug you and it felt like you had found the answer to life.”

At the time Mr Armes was living and working in Stowmarket but despite having a full time job he would regularly take ecstasy, speed or LSD at weekends while smoking cannabis every day - up to £70 worth a week.

By the age of 21 - after around four years of cannabis use - Mr Armes quit the drug because he was smoking so much it was making him paranoid and depressed.

“I started thinking people were the anti-Christ and I was walking through town thinking everyone was watching me and looking at me,” he said.

“I thought people were telepathic and talking to me in their head.

“When I came off cannabis it became a bit better.

He turned to speed as his drug of choice and would use it as a “pick-me-up” to combat his frequent lows.

He said: “It would make me feel confident and happy.

“If you were down it would pick you up but it also made me paranoid, aggressive and gave me psychosis.”

He came off drugs altogether at the age of 22 but it was at this time that he began suffering severe mental problems.

“The voices really started appearing in my head when I stopped drugs,” he said.

“I thought I was hearing God and the Devil telling me what clothes to wear.

“They told me other people's secrets.

“In the end I became convinced I had done something that was unforgivable by God - I was even hearing their voices in my sleep.

“I tried to kill myself six times - once by hanging and the others by overdosing on paracetamol.

“I didn't want to die - I just wanted peace of mind.

“I just wanted to get away from being plagued from the voices.”

Mr Armes received treatment for his mental health problems from 1995 to 2002 but continued to use speed occasionally to combat depression.

He eventually became hooked on heroin after trying the drug while staying in Scotland in 2005.

However he is now off drugs altogether and with the support of NHS outreach workers he is finally battling his demons and making good progress.

He is now keen to get his story across to the current generation of party drug users and get them to change their ways before it is too late.

He said: “I feel the education in school that I got was wrong.

“I would never have taken drugs if I had known what they can do to your brain.

“There are kids out there - young boys and young girls - who are throwing their futures away and don't know what the long-term effects will be.

“Drugs open doors to the mind.

“It takes a hell of a lot of work to close those doors again and you never get them all shut.

“I will always need medication and will never fully be back to how I used to be.

“People are kidding themselves if they think they can do this kind of stuff heavily and not come away with a problem.”

n>Anyone wanting free and confidential advice on issues surrounding drugs can contact Frank on 0800 77 66 00.

Have you or a family member suffered mental health issues as a result of drug-taking? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The rave scene:

Mr Armes began taking drugs in his teens in the early 90s when the rave scene was thriving in the UK.

During this period hundreds, sometimes thousands, of ravers would converge on disused warehouses or fields to dance to electronic music.

Rave emerged out of the “acid house” scene of the late 80s.

By 1991/92 massive raves were being held in fields and warehouses around the country.

The height was achieved in 1992 with a party called One Step Beyond, which attracted 25,000 people.

By the mid 90s the scene was slowly changing, with local councils waking up to how to prevent organisations gaining licenses by massively increasing the fees, so the days of legal one-off parties were numbered.

Ecstasy was widely used as an integral element of rave culture and other psychedelic -influenced music scenes.

Source: Wikipedia

Drug factfile:

n>Ecstasy

Often called the original designer drug because of its relationship with rave culture in the early 90s. Clubbers took ecstasy to stay awake and dance for hours.

The effects take about half an hour to kick in and tend to last between three to six hours, followed by a gradual comedown.

There's some uncertainty about the long term side effects of ecstasy but evidence suggests it can cause damage to the brain causing long-term problems - like depression, personality change and memory loss.

n>LSD

LSD or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is a hallucinogenic drug.

It originally derived from ergot, a fungus found growing wild on rye and other grasses.

LSD is commonly called “acid” and the experience is known as a “trip” which can be good or bad.

A trip can take from 20 minutes to an hour to start and usually lasts about 12 hours.

If panic sets in, the experience can be scary and confusing. Bad trips can be terrifying.

n>Cannabis

The most widely used illegal drug in Britain. Made from parts of the cannabis plant, it's a naturally occurring drug. It is a mild sedative (often causing a chilled-out feeling or actual sleepiness) and it's also a mild hallucinogen.

The main active compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

There's increasing evidence of a link between cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia.

n> Speed

Speed is the street name for a range of amphetamines such as amphetamine sulphate, dexedrine and dexamphetamine.

Like cocaine, amphetamines are stimulants that people take to keep them awake and alert. The effects of amphetamine kick in within half an hour of ingesting it by mouth. The high is generally followed by a long slow comedown.

Speed can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability and aggression as well as mental illness such as psychosis and paranoid feelings.

Source: www.talktofrank.com

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