I was born in Somerset to a fairly normal family, youngest out of five. It was a nice upbringing and materially we were okay. Initially I went to state school. But I started getting into trouble at 11 and 12 years old, smoking cannabis and drinking.
Then Dad sent me to an independent school. I was getting bullied there and then I started to have big problems with my Dad as I wanted to change schools. Also I didn’t really feel supported by my Mum. Things went bad from there.
I had a very low sense of self worth and started seeking it outside the family home. I started getting into relationships with men who were involved in substances – I was really drawn to that. Looking back I can see the direction I was going. I was thrown out of home at 14 and moved in with a career criminal involved in drugs. Then I started to get involved. Already by 16, I was using drugs every weekend although I did get my GCSEs.
I was enjoying myself and working in pubs – I was quite outgoing and confident. Then I met my son’s Dad and he was an addict although I didn’t realise it at the time. By the time I was pregnant it was too late. I got caught selling drugs at a festival and got a custodial sentence. My son was 8 months old at the time. So initially I went to prison for young offenders as I was 20 at the time. I got 18 months. I served 9 months. I feel it wasn’t fair – it was my first offence and I had an 8 month old baby.
I didn’t feel supported in prison and felt even more lost. All it had done was take me out of society and there was no guidance of how to get back in. My first thought was to get wasted as I didn’t know how to cope. My son and I ended up in a mother and baby unit and that helped.
I heard about Clean Break in prison, although I was into drugs for a while afterwards, but I finally got in touch. At the time I was in Dorset. My son was living with my parents. I really felt I needed to start a fresh and wanted to move to London and wanted to focus on working with Clean Break.
In November 2009 I finally got in touch with them. I love them so much. I was so broken at the time. I feel they gave me my life back and now I’ve managed to stay clean for a year. My daughter stays with me. Now I see my son more regularly. I went from no confidence to speaking at the Houses of Parliament advocating Clean Break’s work. I have performed on stage.
Today, I’m starting an art foundation course at an adult college. Clean Break were the bridge that I needed to get from the lifestyle I was living back into the real world. That’s what Clean Break did for me. It was a safe, honest and open environment with similar people to me.
Other women can learn that change is possible. At my lowest, I was a heroin addict sleeping rough on the streets. Any outsider would think that I wouldn’t get out of that. But I believe if a person puts enough effort into change they can do anything.
For more information on Clean Break visit www.cleanbreak.org.uk
Taken from Issue 17