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Aidan Martin has opened up about the trauma he was groomed and fell into drug addiction while growing up in housing scheme Ladywell in Livingston.
The author of best-selling memoir Euphoric Recall is now making documentaries and helping kick-start arts projects in his community that he hopes will turn youngsters away from drugs.
In podcast Justice, Disrupted produced with Community Justice Scotland, he said: “There was no creative outlets back then. Like if I'd have said back then I want to be a writer, or my best friend on my front cover said I’m a painter and musician. If we'd have said those things back then you'd get beat up.
“But it's not why would you turn into an addict or end up in a life of violence. It's why wouldn't you when you grew up in that kind of environment?”
Going to college was a turning point for Aidan who said it helped him get his life on track. He’s now completing a Masters degree in social work.
The 35-year-old said: “I was a broken human being still and there was a lecturer that said to me you're going to go far, I can feel it in my bones', and she meant it when she said it.
“If that kind of attitude had been there from the very beginning, then a lot of kids might have been nurtured differently, to realise their talents. Because I think a lot of the talents we have are already within us, waiting to be realised and nurtured. I wish I'd discovered writing sooner.”
The writer admits he started taking drugs because he had no self-esteem. He believes more should be done to help people in addiction.
“I had a lot of trauma, and suffered badly with mental health from depression and anxiety to body dysmorphia. I was 100 per cent self-medicating but I was part of a culture of people who were all doing it,” he said.
“Give people treatment early in their life so they can become more productive in later life. But we don't, we don't seem to invest that way.
“We're so far behind where we need to be that it's frightening. We need treatment facilities, harm reduction, safe consumption rooms, mental health and addiction services to be joined up.”
While he says he’s in recovery for the long haul, Aidan said its writing that keeps him going.
"If you're growing up seeing people artistically expressing themselves, then you might be drawn to that. But if there's nothing else going on, but everyone's taking heroin or cocaine perhaps you'll go in that direction.
“Right now we've got authors to artists, musicians and all sorts of artistic movements. Even 10 years ago, there wasn't anything like that.
“I'm in the early stages of doing some local projects back in my community. I still do meetings in recovery and I think I always will now. But I have something that I'm passionate
about now. I get a lot of my self-worth from my creative methods and family life. Writing and creating is my drug now. It's more appealing than any other drug ever has been.”