I went from cop to drug addict and worked for the mafia

Without rehab, I’d be lying in a graveyard somewhere with a stone inscription that said, “Died Aged 27.”

I could have been in Club 27 without the fame or the talent.

I’m a recovering cocaine addict and mafia drug smuggler, and 12 years ago a rehab facility saved my life.

Rehab gently returned the items that I thought was lost forever – my health, my family, my gratitude for life and my ambition. The fact that I am breathing and writing today is a miracle.

As a child, I suffered from crippling low self-esteem and insecurities. I was the subject of banter at school, was called “chubby,” and people constantly pointed out my negative aspects.

So when I was introduced to cocaine at the age of 18 by a close friend I trusted, I immediately felt an inner sense of overwhelming confidence and euphoria that set me apart from myself.

After that first line, I became the person I always wanted to be. Outwardly, I’ve always been self-confident; I had more frontline than Brighton Beach, but that was just a persona, an image I projected to hide how I was feeling inside.

It was like someone gave me a super drug that changed me completely, and it was a feeling I’d been looking for my whole life.

Cocaine made me feel like I could conquer the world, but the joy was short-lived and I soon became a prisoner of the white lines. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but when I think about it, I was hooked pretty much immediately. If I wasn’t consuming three times a week, my brain would become obsessed and my tolerance would grow and progress.

I stopped getting high; I used it to escape the fall into a crippling paranoia that came with the descent – I was convinced I needed lines to get back to who I was before the addiction. I almost always used it alone; For me, cocaine wasn’t about partying.

I was extraordinarily paranoid, frightened when I walked past mirrors, and often found myself staring through keyholes, convinced that “they” were after me.

The addiction was exhausting. I couldn’t catch a thought and my mind was at a million miles an hour. I woke up every morning wondering who I owed money to. I was in a constant state of anxiety. What started as a small push quickly turned into a long, lonely and dark journey.

So let’s get an important fact out of the way. During the first five years of my severe cocaine abuse, I was a full-fledged police officer serving Her Majesty the Queen. If you’re thinking how awful and irresponsible that is, trust me, I’ve heard it all. Nothing anyone could ever say to me is worse than the words I have spoken to myself.

When I was training for the Metropolitan Police, I had undiagnosed ADHD and had trouble concentrating. If you didn’t get 80% on the police exams each week, you would fail and get kicked out.

Nick in police uniform

Police life consisted of sneaking into the police station toilets for a line or being late to an emergency because I forgot my cocaine (Picture: Nick Conn)

While training for my police exams, drug abuse helped me retain information to fly through. It was like my magic pill that I used in my room while studying. It did for me what I couldn’t do myself.

I passed the training phase and became a police officer in Camden, London. At the age of 19 I was making £26,000; I lived at home with my family so my bills were minimal and I didn’t have a mortgage or pay rent. There were no financial consequences at the time, so the cost of cocaine was not an issue at first.

Police life consisted of sneaking me into the station restrooms for a line or being late to an emergency because I forgot my cocaine. I was obligated to protect the people, but my only concern in the world was where the next line came from. With great powder comes great responsibility, or something like that…

However, I did not associate myself with aggressive drug dealers or users like those I arrested – I considered cocaine my drug and these people broke the law. I put myself on a pedestal and I was in denial.

But quickly the horror of drug addiction set in and I soon needed cocaine just to feel reasonably normal. As you can imagine, being both a police officer and a cocaine addict didn’t work out and after five years I left the police force and moved to Berlin. That’s where the financial consequences hit me.

At first I used loans and credit cards but had to look for other options once I had exhausted them. I once stole the wallet of a man who was unconscious and having a seizure outside a nightclub. I went back in and used the guy’s credit card to cut lines of cocaine and used his bills to snort it. Talk about the bottom.

Nick Conn Pass

I was in my mid-twenties, woke up in the street covered in someone else’s urine and soaked in my own blood (Picture: Nick Conn)

In Berlin I started dealing drugs for the Albanian mafia using cocaine use and the need for money as a motivator. This was done by befriending one of the head honchos in a nightclub VIP area. He was surrounded by beautiful women and I boldly asked if he knew where I could find cocaine.

The next moment one of the waiters approached me with an envelope and asked me to open it in the bathroom. It contained four grams of cocaine. This “gift” started a relationship where I would do him “favors” in exchange for cocaine. I was hired to help them with whatever they needed, moving women from one brothel they owned to another.

He also became a parent figure to me. He got me what I wanted in the form of drugs, so I felt a debt to him. That’s how the Albanian mafia became my new family – until they dumped me.

I ended up becoming seriously ill and homeless in Berlin because I owed a lot of money to many dangerous people – probably around $20,000 in all.

I was in my mid-twenties and woke up in the street covered in someone else’s urine and soaked in my own blood. That’s when the insecure kid I’d used cocaine in front of for years returned to my consciousness.


Now celebrating 12 years substance free, I have dedicated my life to helping other addicts get the help they need and start a new life (Picture: Nick Conn)

This kid and I cried together on this cold cobbled street. That day I called my mother from a Berlin phone booth and asked for help.

Unlike most addicts, I got a second chance and was lucky enough to be placed in inpatient rehab in the UK. Now celebrating 12 years substance free, I have dedicated my life to helping other addicts get the help they need and start a new life.

I am now married to a wonderful woman named Gemma and have two amazing children. The feelings I had towards myself no longer concern me. I own a property, am an entrepreneur and a reliable person with stability. That’s more than I ever wanted.

The fact that I’ve just opened a beautiful rehab facility of my own, Verve Health, is a miracle. My mission – after being given a second chance at life – is to save the lives of thousands of other addicts. I’m now one of the UK’s Addiction Experts and an advocate for recovery.

According to the Addiction Centre, the Social Justice Center has found that the scale of addiction in the UK has made it the “addiction capital of Europe” and that the nation spends £36billion on drug and alcohol abuse treatment every year.

Please don’t think that any human being is a lost cause. Sometimes it just takes the right person, the right words, and the right timing to lift someone back into the life they deserve. So please don’t give up on her or yourself.

Turning my addiction horror into something that will save thousands of lives brings me a lot of peace and pride. There’s no better drug than recovery.

To contact Nick, find him on Instagram at @dadinrecovery and for more information visit his website at

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MORE: “My cocaine addiction has left me £40,000 in debt – now I’m making £10,000 a month as a life coach helping others.”

MORE: Warning signs someone may be struggling with cocaine addiction

MORE : I became addicted to drugs when I was 13

In this exciting new series from, What It Feels Like… not only tells a person’s moving story, but also the details and emotions weaved into it to give readers a genuine insight into their life-changing experience. I went from cop to drug addict and worked for the mafia

Justin Scacco

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