A man from Daventry who was left brain damaged following a near fatal drug overdose has issued a stark warning to children to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
James ‘Jimbo’ Farmer, a 28-year-old former drug addict, and his mother Mandie both spoke candidly to Year 10 pupils at Danetre and Southbrook Learning Village (DSLV) on Friday about the devastating impact of taking drugs as a teenager.
Jimbo, who studied at William Parker School and now lives in Northampton, started taking cannabis with his friends when he was around 16.
“I look back to it now thinking ‘Why did I do it?’ There is more to life than drugs,” said Jimbo.
“It is easy to get involved in it. It is so easy to get used to knowing people.”
“It started with weed. I liked the feeling of it. Eventually I got bored of it then they brought this cocaine out.
“I didn’t want to be left out, I wanted to be part of the group.
“I got worse when I was working and getting more money and my mates got it. It was so easy to get hold of in Daventry.”
With drugs and alcohol came mounting costs as Jimbo spent £250 a week (most of his wages) on feeding his habit.
He soon found himself in debt to dealers, while his behaviour began to spiral out of control.
He said: “I was drinking, taking drugs, fighting, in and out of prison; I wasn’t a very nice person.” Mrs Farmer said: “He was a nightmare. Horrible. On a Friday night he’d come in, smash doors, I’d call the police to try to get him out of the house because he’d be a nightmare.”
Jimbo was jailed five times because of his behaviour, including one nine-month stint following an incident where he glassed a man in the face during a fight.
Events finally came to a head one Friday night in January 2013 when Jimbo went to a party with his friends. He took a deadly cocktail of drink, drugs, crushed diabetic tablets and Radox shower gel.
The next day he rushed to hospital, where he fell into a coma.
Mrs Farmer said: “It was like something off telly really; they took him out of the ambulance and me and my son wandered around the hospital, we asked a porter where James was and she said upstairs, in intensive care.
“They put him in the biggest room in intensive care, where they are going to put you if you are dying, if you are not going to make it through the night. He was just wired to the machines.
“If he couldn’t pull through, if he couldn’t breath on his own, I would have had to turn the life support machine off.”
Thankfully, Jimbo survived and left intensive care after two weeks. Jimbo eventually woke up listening to Ho Hey by The Lumineers with his brother, however his ordeal left him with a serious brain injury as well as short term memory loss. He was unable to remember anything before he was 18 and has patchy memories of his early 20s.
Jimbo was discharged from brain injury specialists at the Oakleaf Care Centre in March last year. Despite the challenges he faces, Jimbo has turned his life around and is already planning for the future – which includes getting back into work and marrying his girlfriend Jema.
“I have a new girlfriend and I have my little girl Maizie who is six months old. She is absolutely gorgeous – just like her daddy. I have a good couple of years to look forward to.”
Jimbo has also undergone a radical change in his behaviour. He said: “I have such a good relationship with the police, where before they used to follow me or watch what I was doing. I want to help somebody a bit, even just one person, to convince them not do what I have been doing through my life. A lot of people have come up to me said ‘you have touched me’.”
“I’m proud to stand in front of and talk to that many people. They don’t have to listen to me, but they did.”
Following the drug awareness event at the school, Mrs Farmer said Jimbo has been ‘over the moon’ at the response from the community.
She said: “He just can’t believe the response has had. He now wants to go further with it. It is amazing, I am so proud of him.”
Even when he was at his worst Mrs Farmer said Jimbo still had a good heart. “Even when he was a menace he was a loving lad. He would give you the world.” She added she would like to share her experiences with more people in the future: “I had never spoken about what happened before, especially the days leading up to it and at the hospital. But it is something I would like to do again.”