BY CALUM FRASER
A father who recovered from drug addiction has set up a mental health support centre in memory of his twin brother who died of an overdose.
Bexley resident Chris Hill believes he has “cracked the code of addiction” after he recovered from a near lifetime dependence on substances – from smoking at seven to taking crack cocaine and heroin in his 20s.
Mr Hill, who lives in Braundton Avenue with his wife and 11-year-old son, opened the Beatmyaddictions.com shop in Sidcup on Thursday in an effort to destigmatize addiction and mental health.
Mr Hill, who opened the shop on the day his twin Rob would have been 46, said: “It was an emotional day and a bit surreal. I was thinking of him.
Bexley mayor Cllr Brian Bishop, who helped cut the ribbon in Station Road, told the group of around 50 people who turned up to the launch that he had also suffered from mental health issues.
Mr Hill said: “It was amazing to hear the mayor open up about that. The more people who speak out the better.
“Young people are frightened. They think if they tell someone about their problems it will affect their career or people will think less of them.
“Let’s get around the table and talk about this.” (Full story below)
Chris Hill had to carry his twin brother Rob out of the club. He had started to shake as the dodgy pills he’d taken attacked his body.
Chris couldn’t reach the car, so he sat Rob down and ran off to get it.
When he came back, a crowd had gathered. “I think he had stopped breathing,” the Sidcup resident said.
The ambulance arrived and he was taken to hospital. “I called my parents and told them something had happened to Rob.
By 3am there was nothing more they could do and we had to watch while they switched the machine off.”
The twins were in their late teens in the late 1980s.
They threw themselves into the rave and acid house scene that gripped parts of London.
“I started smoking when I was seven,” the father said. “I was drinking at 10 and by secondary school I was smoking weed and sniffing solvents.
That moved on to speed, acid and ecstacy in the acid house era around 1988 and 1989.
“This then led to cocaine in the 1990s, which then led to crack dens and heroine.
“I lived in a regular middle class family. Drugs were just recreational, but if you put an addictive substance into your body at seven, it creates a want and need.
I a had void in me that always needed filling. Addiction is a hidden thing, especially crack.
The public don’t want to see a crack addict. So we’re hidden away in dens. It was a really dark time for me.”
Chris was battling with his addictions and he tried several methods until he started to construct his own programme.
“I think I have cracked the code of addiction,” he said. “It’s about reprogramming your mind.
The NHS and the Government are fixated on the disease model. They say you’re always in recovery. “But with my method you can recover.
There are no pharmaceuticals involved. “Addictive substances work on your survival instincts, it sinks into your subconscious. Think of the way your body communicates with you when you’re hungry, you start to salivate and you think about food.
Physical triggers cause a physiological response that then make you act.
“That chain of events is hijacked by drugs. In my programme you have to communicate with your mind to reset this chain. “We communicate with ourselves in three ways.
Verbal talk, when you’re looking for your keys and you say ‘where’s my keys, where’s my keys,’ you’re trying to communicate with your mind. “Thinking to yourself is another way and writing is the final way.
My programme harnesses these tools to change the way you think.”
The 46-year-old has been clean for 11 years. He managed to save up enough money to buy a house in Braundton Avenue. He and his wife had an son, now 11, and opened a car body repair shop in Sidcup.
He said: “Rob tried to go clean as well. He went down a different path. He wasn’t married, he worked in sales in a place where there was a heavy drugs and drinking culture.
He tried the AA for about 14 months. I’m a supporter of AA and the 12-steps programme, but he started slipping back.
“There was a reunion with a bunch of us from the old days at the Ministry of Sound in 2014. I went with Rob. I didn’t take anything, but Rob took a couple of tabs.”
Later that night, Rob passed away. “After that night I went down for about six months,” said Chris. As he came out of this down period, Chris started to work on a book.
“I realised I needed to do something. I needed to share my experience of recovering from addiction. “I wanted to help Rob, but it’s hard to help someone when you’re so close to them.
“They need an independent relationship with someone, someone who is not linked to the problem, like a counsellor.”
He published Get Your Life Back in 2016 and went out to help as many people as he could.
He said: “I’ve had hundreds of people come to me. One family had a boy who had tried to kill himself when he was in hospital.
“We went away for a three-day retreat. I taught him the basics of reprogramming the mind and he has now made an incredible recovery.”
He has also spoken about sugar addiction in front of the European Parliament and at the House of Commons.
He opened the Beatmyaddiction.com shop in Station Road, Sidcup, on Thursday. He said: “Every person I can help is a victory.
I don’t want anyone going through what I did with Rob. We can make a difference.”