Growing up I knew quite a few friends and family who used drugs or drank a lot, so taking a bit of ecstasy or MDMA at a big rave with all your mates wasn’t unusual. We weren’t taught about drugs at school at all which I really regret – I wish someone had sat down with us and said “this is what could happen if you’re not careful.”
I think the point where it got really serious was when I was given ‘liquid blow’ one night, which I thought was ecstasy but actually turned out to be heroin. From then on, although I was constantly worried about my addiction, I was so unwell I couldn’t see my way out of it. As you can imagine, my family were worried sick.
In 2014 I came to CGL's Stockton Recovery Service and I have never met a more supportive, special, empathic bunch of people. My recovery worker challenged me on absolutely everything – my life, my behaviour, my attitude – she was a tough cookie! But I absolutely needed that because until then I’d swept it all under the table.
I’m now one year clean and a proud peer mentor for the Stockton service and I’ve enjoyed every minute. Half the people who come in the door are people I’ve grown up with so there’s this incredible, personal connection I feel doing this work. I actually went through recovery with a friend who I’ve known since I was 12 or 13 and he’s now a recovery champion. It is contagious seeing people who are in recovery – you think, ‘I want some of that please!’
Having children when you’re struggling with an addiction is unbelievably tough. I only recently told my eldest daughter, who’s a medical officer for the Armed Forces, about my drug use and my two youngest children still don’t know. In the end I told her because I was terrified someone would come up to her in the street and say “your mum’s a smack head or a druggie”. The thought of that happening to her upset me to death.
For myself, I’m incredibly proud to say I’m starting college in September - I’ll be doing my level 2 and 3 health and social care qualification, which I’m really looking forward to. Afterwards I’m hoping to get a job in support services, because this is what I love doing now - supporting other people into recovery and showing them what they’re capable of.
I didn’t think I could be where I am now in a million years – I am a completely different person from the woman who walked through those doors a year ago. I think if I had a hope for the future it would be that we get much better at teaching young people in schools about drugs; it should be on the national curriculum as standard, like sex education. The more knowledge, support and tools we can give to our young people about drugs and alcohol, the safer they’ll be.
Have you been affected by any of the issues in Hannah’s story?
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