A recovering drug addict has graduated with a Masters degree after vowing to ‘never give up hope’.
Aidan Martin from Livingston has struggled with substance abuse since he was just 13 years old and grew up with with ‘no big dreams of success’.
As a schoolboy he suffered sexual abuse, extreme trauma and addiction before turning his life around and becoming a top selling author.
The 35-year-old said he was ‘trapped’ in his addiction which took over his life and led him into making bad choices.
Aiden volunteered at a homeless shelter in his early 20’s and he said the buzz of helping others helped him turn things around.
He decided to apply for college and for the first time he felt supported in education.
Now the dad-of two, soon to be three in December, has graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a Msc in Social Work.
Speaking to the Daily Record Aidan revealed how he wants to help others facing similar struggles.
He said: “I was absolutely trapped in my addiction.
“It is hard to summarise what it feels like to be a drug addict but you are just not in control of yourself, it’s awful.
“I hurt a lot of people by doing terrible things because of my addiction which I will always regret.
“I got into abusing substances when I was 13 which wasn’t very unusual for my area, we were all doing it because of the lack of opportunities we had.
“If you had told me then I would be graduating now with a Masters there is no chance I would have believed you, I had no big dreams back then.
“I thought I was daft with no academic bone in my body, but after volunteering at a shelter I felt the buzz of helping others and knew I wanted to go to college and try.
“If I could talk to myself back then I would tell him to never give up because you just don’t know what is waiting around the corner.
“My addiction put me in a really dark place but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’d tell anyone else struggling just take a chance on yourself because it is the best thing I ever did.”
Aidan grew up in a housing scheme in Ladywell, West Lothian, where he says addiction sadly was a normal way of life.
He began going to recovery meetings in his 20’s in a desperate bid to get sober.
Aidan is now more than three years clean and is a successful author after writing his first book – Euphoric Recall.
He explained: “The area I grew up in is recognised as a deprived area in Scotland.
“It is a good working class area with hard working people, but poverty and social deprivation play a big part.
“It was a normal way of life to get involved in substances, there was just nothing there for us so I never considered college.
“It is a great feeling looking back at how far I’ve come since I left school without any qualifications, but I want to stop others going through that.
“To this day there isn’t a lot of support in the community for addicts which is something I want to use my degrees to change.
“I’m in the process of launching a charity which will aim to support people suffering poverty, social isolation, and low level mental health.
“I think if we tackle all these things it will help addicts and stop people going down that path.”
Aidan is now applauding the Scottish Government for ‘holding their hands up’ and admitting drastic measures are needed to help lower drug deaths.
But the inspiring author also said ‘actions speak louder than words’ and is hoping to see changes introduced to help tackle Scotland’s drug culture.
He said: “I’ve been critical of the government in the past but what I say is I’m pleased to see they are trying to tackle the issue now.
“I’m really hoping that projects I’m working on can be part of the solution to lowering Scotland’s drug deaths because serious action is needed.
“We have a long way to go but it looks like the Scottish Government are now holding their hands up and taking accountability.
“It is great to see but at the end of the day actions speak louder than words, and we don’t have Europe’s worst drug death numbers for no reason.”