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From addict to pastor: Stuart Patterson’s story

Photo by Madeleine Masoudi for TheCircular

“I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity” – Jeremiah 29:14.

The title of the documentary comes straight from the Bible, and it’s the verse that transformed Scotsman Stuart Patterson forever. Stuart tells his personal story of how he overcame his drug addiction. With God’s help, he was able to start afresh and steer his life in a completely different direction.

Short documentary directed by Madeleine Masoudi

Stuart fell into a drug swamp at the young age of 14 after dropping out of high school. It was not a normal school, but a prestigious private primary and secondary school, Hutchesons’ Grammar School, for which Stuart was awarded a scholarship.

His life went deeper and deeper into an inescapable pit of drug addiction. At the age of 27, however, he was shaken awake by a life-threatening event. He would almost have been shot if the gun hadn’t jammed. This was the turning point in his life.

Photo by Madeleine Masoudi for TheCircular

Latest research from March 2023 shows that 9.5% of people living in the UK use illegal drugs. The majority of them, 2.5 million people (7.6%), consume cannabis. Young people aged between 16 and 24 make up 7.6% of drug users, which are around one million.

Through the persistence of his desperate but caring mother to get help, he ended up in a Christian rehabilitation centre Teen Challenge in Wales at the darkest hour of his life. And little that he know that he would meet someone there that would turn his life upside down.

He came out of the rehab as a completely changed man. Not only was he set free from all the drugs he used to take, but he also had a radical encounter with God Himself that changed his perspective of his own life and others. He experienced a love and grace that he had never experienced before, which has since become the driving force of his life.

Today Stuart is the pastor of Easterhouse Community Church in a suburb of Glasgow, is married and has three grown-up children. He also continued his educational career after many years of addiction and overcoming it.

At the end of last year, in 2023, he completed his Masters in Digital Journalism at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow.

He has written down his life story in his own book entitled ‘Completing the Tenner’, which he published on his own blog. He also uploads self-written news, short stories and poems.

Photo by Madeleine Masoudi for TheCircular

Stuart’s words for the ones who are or know someone who has issues with drugs: “Get people that love you in a way they will speak truth and hope to you and they will offer you step-by-step help. Get with somebody that’s going to tell you how much God loves you.”

The national addiction helpline in Ireland is run by HSE and in the UK Frank Drugs Helpline.

Other helpful resources: Global Teen Challenge and Tiglin rehabilitation centre based in Ireland

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