‘Weston rehab saved my life’ says former heroin addict

Paul Hannaford and PC Nick Falconer. Picture: Henry Woodsford

Paul Hannaford and PC Nick Falconer. Picture: Henry Woodsford - Credit: Archant

An ex-heroin addict who claims Weston-super-Mare ‘saved his life’ is calling on schools to educate youngsters about the dangers of substance abuse.

Paul Hannaford gave talks this month to students of Broadoak College and Hans Price Academy about his drug addictions.

He came to the former Hope House rehabilitation centre in St Georges in 2006 from West London after a lengthy battle with narcotics and alcohol.

Paul believes he committed more than 5,000 crimes to fund his habit including credit card fraud and armed robberies and stole in excess of £5million.

At his lowest ebb, Paul only had two working veins left in his entire body and robbed his mother of her wedding ring, using the money from selling it to buy crack cocaine.


His veins thrombosed due to injecting crack cocaine, which resulted in two needle heads snapping off in his arms, which are still there today with doctors unable to remove them.

Maggot therapy and 20 skin grafts stopped Paul from losing both his legs after he handed himself in to police.

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Since then he has turned his life around and been sober for 11 years and now campaigns for education and early prevention for youngsters across the country.

Speaking about his life, Paul said: “I served my whole sentence in hospital handcuffed to the bed as I was too ill to stay in prison.

“I had a blood transfusion and contracted pneumonia, the doctors told me ‘if you leave hospital you will die’, I had nowhere else to go apart from a crack den so I came to Weston.

“I can honestly say coming to this town saved my life because what happened to me is happening to a lot of young people right now.”

Paul has given talks to more than 400,000 children and wants to make the issue part of the national curriculum.

Statistics from an Avon and Somerset police drug expert revealed the force seized 72kg of cannabis, 30kg of cocaine and 5,500 cannabis plants last year.

The constabulary’s Operation Tarak aims to stop county lines drug activity where gangs exploit young and vulnerable people to sell drugs in the region.

Paul added: “Drug dealers love vulnerable kids because they are easy targets but if we give them knowledge about this issue then their opinions will change.

“We will never stop addiction but we can reduce it through early intervention as one drug leads to another, harder drug.

“If we can give as many children in Weston awareness to this problem then we will save lives.”