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From the abyss to the arts

December 09 2011
Social enterprise founder wants to help others who have found themselves drug-dependent


Jason Turner has stared into the abyss and come back from the brink. He’s the founder of iSore Media.

For 22 years, he struggled with substance misuse: alcohol, cannabis, crack cocaine and then heroin. Mr Turner, from Chelmsley Wood, alienated his family, his work colleagues (he is a glazier) and, indeed, anyone who came into his orbit. It was, he admits, a deeply troubled existence that included stints in prison, the inevitable consequence of funding an expensive drug addiction: “I had no cause to blame it on my upbringing, though I tried to. I was not using to ‘escape’ anything. The fact is: I wasn’t reliable; I wasn’t consistent. I’d go missing for most of the day in pursuit of drugs. My world got smaller and smaller until it was just me in my bedroom with a bag of heroin and a rock of crack. The last four years of using was horrendous. I wanted to kill myself but didn’t have the balls. It was a dark and painful place to be.”

But now, at 42, Turner is clean, and he has been for over three years thanks to the Twelve-Step Programme, a recovery system that advocates total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. “My relationship with my parents is amazing now.” He says. “I hated my dad because he got in the way of my using, but I love him to bits now. I can talk to my family, get on the phone to my sponsor or speak to other recovering addicts.”

Turner’s desire to help others who have also found themselves drug-dependent and socially marginalised helps him stay drug-free. In January 2011, after completing a media techniques course at a local college, Turner founded iSore media, a not-for-profit social enterprise that seeks to enhance the lives of people undergoing rehabilitation through the power of filmmaking and creative media projects. It uses media workshops, one-to-one support and industry placements to help them to gain the self-confidence that is required to conquer addiction.

iSore media’s latest project is a short film entitled Flat Out and Back which highlights how Naloxone can reverse a drugs overdose and, literally, save lives. The 15-minute film also features a contribution by Dr Ed Day, from the North Birmingham Community Drug Team, on how organisations in the region can best tackle drug misuse. The film, a testament to iSore media’s growing reputation, was made in partnership with Birmingham Drug and Alcohol Action Team (BDAAT) and Service User Groups About Recovery (SUGAR) to promote the drug and alcohol services available in Birmingham.

“The film was inspired by statistics around heroin overdoses,” Turner siad, “I know people who have died after being clean for some time and then using again. Your tolerance level drops.

“The film tells the story of what happens every day: guy gets out of prison, tells himself he won’t use again, heads for the off-licence, then loses all his inhibitions and gets back on the drugs again… It’s a dangerous cycle. I want this film to be screened in prisons, detox centres, community drug teams and rehabs, because 95 per cent of overdose deaths occur within the first week of an ex-addict being released from some sort of institution.”

Flat Out and Back will be premiered at 10.30am on 7 December 2011 at Cineworld, Touchwood, Solihull. Turner wants it to be seen by as wide an audience as possible: “I want people to be trained in the use of Naloxone. We are inviting commissioners and drug service providers from across the region to see the film. We have also licensed it to the BDAAT.” Turner hopes to expand iSore Media to produce educational and promotional films for other social enterprises, charities, private businesses and homelessness organisations. “Quite a lot of people become homeless because of heroin and are still using on the streets. I’m looking to get something set up with the likes of SIFA Fireside in Birmingham city centre.”

Jason Turner is philosophical about his years as an addict: “I’ve got no regrets about the past. If I hadn’t lived the life I did, I couldn’t do the good that I’m doing today for myself and for others.”