I guess we all have tales of strange things that have happened to us in our lives and what follows is just one of the odd things from my life.

In the summer of 1992, I received a phone call (out of the blue) from an Immigration Officer based in London. At first I thought he had contacted the wrong person, but as I listened it became clear it was me he wanted to speak to. After introducing himself he began to ask me questions about my childhood such as ‘what schools did I attend, who were my friends, and when did I last see them’ etc? After much questioning, the Officer was happy that I was indeed the person he was trying to contact, and he proceeded to explain the purpose of the call.

But first, before I continue with the explanation, let me fill you in with a little about my childhood. In 1968 I started at my secondary school in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. I think it is probably fair to say it wasn't the best school in town, but I was careful who I chose to befriend. One lad, who became my best friend, was the blackest person I had ever seen, and for the purpose of this story I will refer to him as PS. Purely by coincidence, his mother was a nurse who worked in the same hospital as my mother, who was also a nurse. Unfortunately, our friendship was to be short lived as his mother, who was a single parent, decided to emigrate to the U.S. in search of a better life for them. I haven't seen or heard of PS from that day in 1970 to this.

The Officer told me that the police had arrested a man who said his name was Ray Baker, and charged him with supplying heroin. Apparently, this person had acquired a copy of my birth certificate, and had assumed my identity for the purpose of dealing drugs in London. The Immigration Officer informed me that the person was none other that my old best mate PS. Well, I was completely flabbergasted upon hearing this, and I remember thinking to myself, how on earth did PS ever get himself into drugs for god sake – he was such a decent lad. Sure, I had my own problems with alcohol but ‘heroin’, that's a whole different ball game. I suffered from the arrogance which is so often the case with alcoholics, and despite the fact that PS was once my best friend, I was quick to judge him without consideration of his plight.

I had all but forgotten about the phone call until one day 7 years later when it suddenly sprang to mind. I had just received the first of many letters from my Mum which opened with ‘There go I but for the grace of God’. It was only a few days earlier that I had to make the most difficult phone call of my life - to tell her I was addicted to heroin and also that I was serving a 4 year sentence for being convicted of being concerned in the supply of heroin!

I am not a religious person but I don't believe that my Mum's opening line could have been more appropriate. Sadly, my Mum passed away a year after I was released on parole. I would like to think she would approve of the changes I have made since those very dark days.

Author's Bio: 

Addiction was not a lifestyle choice for me, and I have never met any other addicts who chose addiction. In 1996 I decided to make the changes necessary to address a lifetime of addictive behaviour. The creation of Drug and Alcohol Rehab has enabled me to help others whose lives have been devastated by addiction.