Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Kim's Story - Volunteers' Week

Kim Butler

I began using alcohol and cannabis at the age of 11. My journey progressed on to using cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs. I was already chaotic at this point and always out and never at home. At 15 I first tried heroin and crack cocaine and it took away all my emotional pain and numbed me and detached me from everything. I was committing crimes to fund my habit and getting into trouble. My boyfriend at the time ended up going to prison and I struggled with not having him by my side to use with and felt lonely.

I ended up homeless at 16 and started getting support from the substance misuse young person’s service. I slept on the streets for a while, then the Young Housing Project (YHP) in Leamington put me in a shared temporary house with other women. I continued using heroin and crack cocaine and at 17 began injecting. I stole, I begged, I manipulated, did anything to fund my dependency.

At 18 I met my ex-partner and moved to Leeds. He was also using heroin and crack when I met him which is maybe why I was attracted to him. The years in Leeds were even more chaotic, again ending up homeless on the streets, sleeping in a car, and at other users’ homes.

I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. I moved back to Warwickshire and my ex-partner kept trying to find me and would not let me move on. Shortly after he passed away. The relationship was psychologically abusive, which left me mentally damaged and affected my self-esteem and confidence.

At 24, I was still using heroin and crack cocaine. I had my eldest daughter who I loved so much – but I could not stop using. When she was 3 a voluntary agreement was put in place for my daughter to stay with my parents. I went to detox for 4 weeks, then rehab for 6 months but as soon as I came out, I relapsed.

When I was 27 and pregnant with my youngest daughter, I had DVT, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, cellulitis and was very poorly in hospital for several weeks. At 10 days old, my baby was put into foster care for a few weeks. Then, my parents also took her on, and they got guardianship of my children. After this, I could not deal with the guilt and shame and used, even more, to deal with the trauma and emotional pain.

I am now 14 months without drugs and alcohol and get a natural high off recovery and life! I especially love helping other service users - I am a volunteer and service user representative for Change Grow Live Warwickshire. Change Grow Live have also helped me train to become a SMART facilitator and regularly facilitate recovery groups.

I am very much involved in my children’s lives and I am emotionally there for them. I am at peace in recovery and I smile and laugh a lot which I never did when using and drinking. I have also helped my line manager deliver substance misuse training to other organizations. I am doing my NVQ Level 2 in Peer Mentoring with Change Grow Live, and my goal is to continue volunteering with Change Grow Live and hopefully get a career and job in the future.