A Derbyshire charity that has saved more than 1,000 lives reveals how it helps drug addicts and alcoholics to beat their habits.
DRIVING down the gravelled path leading to Betel of Derby there is no clue as to what goes on here.
The stereotypical view of a rehab centre being full of men in white coats could not be further from the truth for the charity, nestled in the Derbyshire countryside in Etwall.
The Christian charity has a record of saving more than 1,000 lives since it was set up 12 years ago.
It houses 20 addicts and relies entirely on its own hard work without any government help.
Residents regularly mix with society, working at Betel’s charity shop in Derby on Victoria Street, and packing shopping at Asda Spondon.
It’s Derbyshire regional director, David Murphy, is a former raging heroin addict.
He moved to the centre 12 years ago and has set up life here, with his wife Harriet, and their two children, Levi, eight, and Jessica, who is ten months old.
But life was once very different.
He said: “When I was younger I always wanted acceptance from people who were older.
“I started smoking cigarettes when I was 10, and cannabis at 11.
“It was all about getting a reputation.
“I was drinking heavily and I used to roll around in my own sick.
“We used to smoke cannabis through bongs before, during and after school.”
David was brought up in Cumnock, a town in Scotland, without his father, which he believes plays its part in his downfall.
He said: “We never had much money growing up, and my dad was a drinker.
“I was OK at school but I could not be bothered with it.”
He said he regularly got involved in fights, usually starting them, and had a disregard for anything but himself.
His lifestyle now revolved around alcohol, cannabis and the party drug speed.
At the age of 15 his life was nearly over before it started when he was charged with attempted murder.
He was later cleared, as it was proved to be an act of self-defence, after 20 people approached him armed with bricks and golf-clubs.
He said: “At this point in my life I’d lost all hope.
“When I was facing years in prison I simply did not care.
“I started to inject heroin to numb the pain I felt.
“Scoring and taking heroin was my main aim in life.
“I lost two friends before I turned 19 through overdoses and it was me who bought the heroin for them.
“I carried that guilt for many years and I am still ashamed from what I did.
“People might read this and think how does anybody get like this, but I was just emotionless.“
His addiction came to a head with a visit to his grandmother who was suffering from dementia.
He said: “I’ll never forget the time I stole some money from her purse to go and get heroin.
“I took the money but threw the heroin and some needles out of the window.”
A neighbour spotted what David had done and confronted him about it just minutes later.
He tried his best to convince his grandma that she had lost or spent the money.
He said: “The look on her face when she realised still haunts me today.
“I could not get any lower.
“I’m sickened by it.”
His actions made him homeless where by accident he came into contact with Christianity completely by accident.
That chance encounter changed his life. He quit his methadone, which is a heroin substitute, and joined the centre where he started to improve.
He said: “It was a process of guilt when I joined.
“You do not have to be a Christian to stay here, you just have to respect that we are a Christian charity.”
Martin Metodiev’s journey to the charity has come via periods where his life was about to end.
He was forced to flee his homeland in Bulgaria or else he said he would have been murdered because he could not pay off a £30,000 drugs debt.
He first became addicted to drugs at the age of 13.
The 30-year-old said: “I have been through hell to get where I am now.
“I spent 21 months in hospital where the doctors saved my life.
“When I joined university it opened the doors to cocaine and alcohol.
“I also became a drug dealer and to me it was like a game.
“Up until then my parents kept me away from a life on the streets. But then that is what I became.”
Soon, a similar pattern emerged, and he was using harder drugs.
He said: “I never knew I was an addict. I had a fantastic time but I didn’t have a clue.
“In the end I lost everything. I had no friends, home or car. I was on the streets robbing for heroin.
“The addiction became so bad I was injecting heroin into my leg and I could not walk for three weeks because it was so big.
“In my early twenties I had everything and could stay in all the best hotels and clubs and had a lot of money and power.
“But it all ended. I was robbing from bins to survive.
“I also used to sell my blood for money for heroin.
“A gram of heroin was worth a pint of blood which is about £20.”
He said he was in the grasp of gangsters, who did not take kindly to unpaid debts.
He said: “I had £40,000 to pay in total.
“The people I owed it to would kill you.
“They are disgusting. If they had not killed me I would have had my fingers or ears cut off.”
In the end it was the love of his family that brought him back to life.
During a hospital stay his mother visited him and got him in touch with Betel International, who moved him to Etwall.
It was the first time he had spoken to her since he was 13.
He said: “Our relationship was destroyed but now I’m here she visits me once a year.
“When I first moved here I didn’t speak English for the first few months.
“My life has now changed though.
“I have learnt to rebuild my character.
“It’s cold and rainy but I love this country. Etwall is great because there is peace and quiet.”