Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Louise's story

My job’s my life, I love my job. I get such a buzz from helping other people; when I get a good result I’m so happy I have to run in and tell everyone! I get in at half 7 every morning even though I don’t have to get in until 9 – how many people can say they love their job that much?

I think having personal experience of dependency does help you to work in this field. A client can come in to me, say one sentence, and straight away I know what’s going on. I can spot the little signs; the facial movements, the cut marks, and know exactly what they’re going through.

My own story started when I was 16. I had a miscarriage which was devastating, and a friend gave me what I understand now was heroin and told me it would help me sleep. The next few years were hard. I’ve been homeless and attacked on the streets, just for being a vulnerable woman. I’ve seen so much violence against women; I can’t explain how that feels - seeing a woman run over, or attacked with a champagne bottle. That kind of violence, it breaks women and they think that’s all they’re worth.

My ex-partner and I came to Change Grow Live together and I’m so glad they supported us in that way – together. A lot of places will try and split you up, because we were co-dependent, but Change Grow Live listened to us and what we wanted. When you’re coming off drugs, your emotions are so raw you need someone who understands what you’re going through.

What makes the difference with Change Grow Live? They care about you, and they do what works for you. I don’t think Change Grow Live realises they really do change lives. I struggled to open up in some of my early sessions, because when you’ve spent so long having to be tough it’s hard to let your guard down. So my key worker asked me to email him and he emailed back, and slowly we built up trust together.

Working for Change Grow Live now, that trust has just gotten stronger. I’ve developed borderline personality disorder as a result of the drug use and I’ve had a few breakdowns in my time here. Change Grow Live have been absolutely amazing, they’ve supported me 100% and now all my colleagues know about it and it’s not a big deal. I’m proud to talk openly about my condition, because it’s something so many people with substance misuse struggle with and they shouldn’t be afraid to be who they are.

At some point I think I would like to work to support people who have suffered domestic abuse. I saw my mum go through it, and I feel like such a strong woman now, I want to give other women the power back to say “no”. I also want to help the perpetrators to understand that what they’re doing isn’t normal – what if that was their mum or daughter?

Recovery is a hard journey, but it’s rewarding. I’m sure if you could show people their end result, a lot of them would do it. If someone told me six years ago that I’d be sitting here right now I’d say no way - but now I am, I feel so blessed.  

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