A reformed drug user who ended up behind bars before sleeping on the streets has told how he turned his life around - driven by a desire to save others from the same cycle of despair.

Ricky McAddock was just 13 when he tried booze for the first time, a decision that quickly led him into a spiral of substance abuse that saw him hooked on cannabis and Valium as a teen.

By the time he turned 18, his life was out of control, with Ricky drinking and taking drugs every day.

As his addiction issues worsened, he fell in with the wrong crowd and was drawn into a life of crime and violence that eventually resulted in a prison sentence.

After a failed attempt at rehab, he became hooked on heroin at 23 and ultimately reached his lowest ebb.

Glasgow Times: Ricky McAddockRicky McAddock (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

Ricky, from Govan, exclusively told the Glasgow Times: “My life was a total mess and every single day revolved around my need to take drugs and consume alcohol. By the time I was in my teens I’d probably tried every drug known to man, I simply had no limits and no self-control.

“My lifestyle was chaotic and I lost myself completely. I had zero self-respect, everything revolved around where my next hit was coming from. It’s hard to break free from the grip of such powerful addiction, even though deep down I craved a better life - I just didn’t know how to achieve it.”

Ricky told how he tried to relocate to break the cycle of despair but was soon dragged back into his old ways by ghosts from his past

He explained: “I tried moving to a different area, thinking that could help me with a fresh start, but I soon returned to my old habits of turning to drink and drugs.

“Every day became the same. I would wake up and the first thought in my head was identical - how was I getting the money to fund my next hit. I didn’t care about anything else, I was totally and utterly trapped in a relentless cycle of addiction.

“My breaking point was ending up in prison and being released to have to sleep rough on benches and the streets while begging to make ends meet. I’d hit rock bottom and something just finally clicked inside of me. I knew I had to get help or I would end up another statistic on a news bulletin.”

READ MORE: Former drug addict turned Easterhouse pastor graduates from uni after turning life around.

Ricky was finally able to take the vital first step towards reshaping his life after meeting a kind staff member from Teen Challenge.

Glasgow Times: Ricky McAddockRicky McAddock (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

Like Ricky, he too had suffered from addiction and offered the help and support of a rehab programme which helped to turn his life around.

Ricky, 44, said: “I looked in the mirror and knew I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. It was time to get clean and start living, to break free from the shackles of addiction that had defined and shaped so many years of my life.

“We prayed together and something changed in me. For the first time in more than a decade, I wasn’t thinking about drugs, I was thinking that I wanted to get clean and get my life back.

“We built a great friendship and when he said that help was available and I should check out, I realised this could be a fresh start and decided to accept a place in the rehab he suggested.

“Without drink or drugs, I didn’t know who I was, but I saw others there who had peace and purpose. It wasn’t easy but with the help and support I was given; I was finally able to build a new life.”

Now completely sober, Ricky met his wife Julie, 40, and founded Street Connect, to reach out to others facing the similar struggles with drugs and alcohol that he had battled to overcome.

Next year will mark the charity’s 10th anniversary and Ricky describes it as 'a milestone moment' for the couple.

Glasgow Times: Ricky McAddockRicky McAddock (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

The dad-of-three said: “Street Connect started because Julie and I have lived experience of addiction and we wanted to try help others. What began as an outreach programme working out of churches across Glasgow has grown enormously, we could never have imagined how it would develop.

“We go into the communities where these problems exist, we offer one-to-one support, rehabilitation, flats to help people stablisie their lives after sleeping on the streets and try to help them find a place back in the community.

“We’re now working to roll out our services across Scotland, especially in areas we feel are underserved and where there’s just not enough support for those battling addiction."

Ricky also believes that immediate action needs to be taken to tackle Scotland’s continuing drug problem and says there’s an urgent need for more rehab places to be made available.

Glasgow Times: Ricky McAddockRicky McAddock (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

He added: “We need to be actively getting out on the streets, we have to reach people before they end up dead. We know there’s even more people we need to reach, and in Glasgow in particular, that number is increasing every day.

For more information, or to donate, visit www.streetconnect.co.uk