Kate is one of central Middlesbrough's drug addicted, street prostitutes who sells her body for as little as £15. Fellow journalist Jack Gaskarth and I met Kate when out researching one evening. We wanted to find out how and why these woman end up on the streets and explore this via documentary film.
The nature of addiction means it's never possible to know if you'll become addicted before trying a substance. Nor is it simple to pinpoint the moment that a habit becomes an addiction. Taking the idea of 'illegal' drugs out of the equation might help you think more about what you're predisposed to - most people underestimate the dangers of alcohol as a drug, too.
The stigma of addiction is a pernicious and inhumane phenomenon. The continuing description of drug addicts as criminals rather than people who are unhealthy or sick prevents them getting well and consigns their family to years of misery and often destitution. Addicts should be treated and supported into recovery. Their entrapment in criminal justice is a waste of police time, a waste of the state's money and dissuades addicts from revealing themselves for treatment for fear of the criminal consequences.
Up until the age of 40 (2002) I was a responsible gay man. I ensured that I used protection every time I had a casual sexual encounter. I was not in a committed relationship at that stage, so it was not even an option for me to bareback with someone. I found that exceptionally scary at the time, as I was aware of how easy it was to contract STDs, especially HIV.
I was eight years old when I accidentally walked in on my mum injecting heroin in the kitchen. I'll never forget the confused look on her face - the warm embrace of the opiates blunted any acute feelings shame and panic, leaving her with an ugly, dumbfounded grimace. Luckily, this episode was the turning point in both our lives...
The following morning, the day of Catalina's funeral, it was the turn of Bruce Lee - the self-styled "King of the Sewers". Never shy of a spectacle, he arrived barefoot with his head painted in Aurolac, a luminous helmet of bright silver paint that the addicts sniff. A stark reminder of the crazed drug-infested atmosphere where Catalina had died.
It seems like yesterday that the world woke to the shocking scenes of neglect and cruelty inside Romania's orphanages and care homes. Grainy Images of feces-stained wards, and babies chained to rusty cast-iron beds that seared in our minds. But 25 years on what has happened to Romania's abandoned children, and what fate awaits children from Romania's underfunded care system today?
Escaping pain never works. You can try, but there will always be a time when you are left alone in the abyss of your thoughts and the pain will re-surface. Drugs, sex, alcohol.. they are perfect engines for your own escape, but eventually they will become your consistent means of running away from what is actually hurting you.