This story is told by a young woman who prefers not to be named.
I’ve never had my Mum around – it was just me and my Dad. When I was 15 he was working quite a lot and new friends at school gave me the attention I wanted. Soon I found myself smoking weed and getting high at their houses; I also did a bit of LSD here and there and took ecstasy if I went out.
It all began to happen very fast. When I was only 16 I started selling heroin. My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to try it and in only two weeks I had a habit. I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me, but people I was close to suddenly didn’t want to know me, which really hurt.
I went around doing anything I could to get the money to feed my habit – thieving from family, then shoplifting. That’s when I started getting into court almost weekly. I did go to a place where I heard you could get a prescription for Methadone, but I still didn’t stop using.
My family had had enough and turned their backs on me and I was left with no-one. I went on total destruct because I had nobody around me to hurt.
I got arrested for supplying heroin to undercover police and got remanded in custody, the first time I had to do proper rattle and it was bad. I ended up serving 18 months, but when I got out I went straight back to using heroin. I just hadn’t learned anything.
Things went from bad to worse: I got pregnant and Social Services soon got involved. I was told to stop using or lose my son. I was also in a violent relationship I couldn’t escape from – my partner was very possessive.
That’s when I heard about Bridge. I did want to stop using because it had caused me so much trouble and I wanted to concentrate on getting English and Maths qualifications I didn’t get at school, so I started going to Bridge tech in 2006. Staff at Bridge also told me there were groups to help with things like relapse prevention, cravings and Sids (Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions).
Suddenly a lot of things started making sense: I didn’t want to be a down-and-out druggie any more. I stuck to my medication and it felt really good. I stayed clean for two months, which is the best I had done for a very long time. But my partner started going out grafting and before I knew it I was back to using every day: I lost all the weight I had gained and let myself go downhill and hit a bout of depression.
But then my keyworker, other staff at Bridge and my support group helped me make the decision to ask my partner to leave because he wouldn’t stop and he was controlling me by giving me drugs.
I started putting a lot more into the groups at Bridge. When I got through the first day I woke up in the morning feeling so much better and decided that’s how I wanted to be. My son began to change and I couldn’t believe how much my lifestyle had affected him.
Before I knew it I was four weeks clean and had got my son into a routine and into nursery. We were living like your average family. I loved every minute of it and I could tell he did too!
That gave me an even bigger incentive to stick to my medication. Twelve months on, I have a lovely flat in a lovely area, I’ve gained four qualifications and am looking for voluntary work or employment. I’ve had another son, who is nine months old, and both boys attend nursery daily. My elder son is starting school full time in September and things are looking good.
I would say we are leading what people call a normal life.
I am sticking to my script – I’ve had a couple of lapses but with the tools I have been given in the groups I have managed to get past them and not let them stop me on my road to recovery. So there is light at the end of the tunnel and no matter how far away it seems it is reachable. There are so many people there to give you help and support. You just have to be willing to help yourself.