A long time ago I worked as a community psychiatric nurse in a drug team, writes Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Reverend David Southall.

I well remember seeing people come in at the start of their drug taking journey. Some progressed to injecting and, after running out of veins in arms and legs and toes, they resorted to injecting into the groin: a risky business indeed as the vein and artery are in close proximity.

I well remember Lorraine who worked in the sex industry. I can see her fresh face even now which over a few months lost its vigour; teeth beaten out of her by “clients” or her pimp; skin damaged by endless rounds of daily injecting drugs. She is dead now.

I remembered this when I met a patient this week who was injecting into their groin. Their stories were similar; stories of childhood abuse both physical and sexual; of life spiralling out of control; of, seemingly, no redemption.

It has always seemed odd to me that society deals such a stigma on ”drug addicts”. They are seen as dirty and violent; if only they would pull themselves together and stop using.

How can they do this to their family and, God forbid, to their children. But I say: “there but for the grace of God go I.” I think that if had experienced some of the same trauma as these fellow human beings, then I too might be in the same boat. But there is another factor which counteracts the stigma too. Maybe drug users are so vilified because we have never listened to their stories.

Both the people I have mentioned had dreams. They had passions and interests; they were youngsters once who dreamed of living a very different life. I remember stories that Lorraine told me; of her love of the countryside and her desire to work on a farm. Sadly this dream never came to fruition.

It strikes me that understanding is better than vilification. And I still believe that redemption is a real possibility.