Michael Smith's inspiring journey from drugs and homelessness to faith and purpose

AN ADDICT who spent years living rough on the streets to fuel his drug and alcohol habit told how he had turned his life around to become a reformed man.

Michael Smith (44) said he had lived a rollercoaster lifestyle on the streets of Leigh in Greater Manchester, which had led to break-ups, career-ending dreams, violence and living rough on the streets.

His early years were filled with a rebellious streak marked by unhappy family relationships.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’d do silly things as a kid such as break into my primary school where I’d absolutely destroy the place because I was angry,” he said.

“My step-dad was an alcoholic and he used to beat me.

“I tried to meet with my biological father who lived in Liverpool but his wife wasn’t keen on us having a relationship, so he ended up turning his back on me.

“He didn’t want to see me again, which was difficult to take as a kid.

“It was a really difficult time in my life which is probably why I started to lose control.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Michael said he had got into drugs at a young age, which had destroyed his one childhood ambition.

“I first smoked weed when I was about 12 which quickly progressed to taking amphetamine, acid, cocaine, heroin and LSD by the time I turned 15,” he said.

“I did this whilst becoming a father and trying to make it as a professional rugby league player.

“I’d fallen in love with the sport as a child and was eventually signed by the Widnes Vikings.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Despite having the talent to make it to the top, I could never maintain the consistency required because of my drug taking.

“In the end, it was a choice between making it big as a rugby league player or the drugs.

“I chose the drugs.”

Michael outline the extent to which his excesses would go in order to fuel his habit.

“At one point, I was injecting amphetamine, whiskey and vodka to get the next hit because it made me feel alive,” he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Back in the 1990s, drug taking was quite prolific and you could buy drugs cheaply.

“I’d also get the opposite side where drug dealers hunted me down for money and demanded I buy more drugs.

“I remember being beaten so badly by drug dealers that they attacked me with a metal bar where I was bleeding to a pulp.

“Somehow I made it out alive.

“It was very scary.”

Michael said he had left all his responsibilities behind in order to keep taking drugs whilst on the streets.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I was around 24 and all the money I had was going towards my addiction — I couldn’t afford a home anymore so that’s when I moved to life on the streets,” he said.

“It was quite daunting being out in the freezing cold when you couldn’t feel your hands or feet.

“I was finding a means to take drugs by committing petty crimes and selling items I’d sold.

“Unfortunately, I was caught on quite a few occasions and it led to a time behind bars.

“I’d hit rock bottom.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A defining moment in Michael’s life came in 2014 when he plucked up the courage to ask for help in 2014.

“I’d simply had enough and decided that I needed to change my life after years of abuse,” he added.

“Thanks to Leigh Foodbank, I was referred to a christian charity centre called Betel UK, who help people overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol. It saved my life.

“They gave me accommodation and gave me guidance on how to improve my life to find meaning with God's help.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Being around the culture of drug taking led to the deaths of so many good people.

“I wanted to make a change but knew I needed help.”

Michael said he had been given a sense of purpose and wanted to help others who had experienced homelessness and addiction like him.

“Betel helped to restore my broken life and I found myself progressing to a position where I was helping others overcome their demons,” he added.

“I found this really rewarding.

“I moved to Rotherham in 2021 to work at the Lighthouse, which helps homeless people.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’ve helped people to learn to love themselves again which is what has inspired me to this day.

“I met my wife Debbie through this and she’s given me the strength to love myself again as well.”

Mick said he now hoped to save just one life from the pain that drugs and alcohol can cause.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes and done some terrible things in the past, but I made it out the other side and found faith which inspired me to change my ways,” he added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If I see people on the streets living rough, I feel urged to help them out because I know what they are going through.

“Just buying them some food can give them a real chance of getting through the problems they face and make a huge difference to them.

“I still live with the guilt of never being a father figure to my children —tThey didn’t deserve a dad like me.

“It’s perfectly understandable why they may never want to see me, but I’m confident we can reconnect in the future and I can make it up to them.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The recovering addict has made a new life for himself in Greasbrough with Debbie.

“I have a wife, a home and quite possibly everything I could have ever wished for,” he added.

“I’m studying to be a graphic designer at Rotherham College and I’ve been accepted to study graphic design at Doncaster College University in the autumn.

“It really shows just how anything can be achieved.

“From being at my worst ever point in life to where I am now is incredible.

“Drugs are absolutely evil.

“If my story can save one person from making the same mistakes I did, I will be happy.”