A former heroin addict who was jailed for almost 20 years says he has transformed his life after giving up drugs and going straight.
Shawn Penkenth, 45, had been doing drugs for nearly 30 years. He started smoking cannabis in his teens before becoming addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.
But being banged up for 18-and-a-half years, feeling "mentally and emotionally dead," and watching his dad become seriously ill several years ago sparked a change in his approach to life.
Dad-of-three Shawn, who is 6ft 3in and admits to once weighing just 10st, decided to quit drugs 18 months ago and turn his life around for good.
He has since become a volunteer at the Reflection rehab centre in Castleford, West Yorkshire, to help others get clean.
"I started by smoking cannabis when I was 15 and it just progressed from there," he said. "At one point I was taking 10 Valium as well as smoking cannabis.
"At 16, I was taking various tablets as well. Then, in 1994, I ended up going to jail for crimes like taking a vehicle without consent and burglary.
"Then I had two kids, but I was never able to hold them or even a job down.
"Another huge moment in my life was when my mum died in 2010.
"When that happened I stopped for a while and didn't end up back in prison until 2014.
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"But then I ended up in and out of prison and became homeless for two months.
"When I left HMP Humber around 15 months ago, two policemen met me and said they were taking me into a rehab clinic.
"At the time, I was in a really bad way – I was 6ft 3in and only weighed 10 stone.
"I was mentally and emotionally dead. Coupled with my father falling ill, I knew I needed to make a change.
"I didn't want to be a disappointment anymore."
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Shawn also saw the birth of his son as a chance to change for the better, GrimsbyLive reports.
He said: "I've spent 18-and-a-half years in prison overall. I went into the rehab centre on January 23 last year and I've now been clean for about 18 months.
"Now, I've got my first ever flat that I've furnished and decorated myself in Castleford and I volunteer at Reflections teaching other people like myself."
His friend Daniel Fortune, 31, has been through a similar situation that led him to also being admitted to rehab.
Having spent a whopping £1,000 on cocaine, he seriously injured himself when he jumped out of a third-floor window.
"I was taking drugs since the age of 13 and it was so bad at one point that I jumped out a window thinking I was on the ground floor and broke my back as well as fracturing my ankle," Daniel said.
"I couldn't walk for three months after doing it and that was when I knew I needed to change."
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