Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Stacey's* story

I was so naive when I first tried heroin, I had no idea how dangerous it was. I fell in love with a user and he used to say “why don’t you just try a dose and then you’ll see where I’m at?” So I did. I didn’t know you could get a habit after just two weeks, I thought that was what happened to people after years. Plus my boyfriend didn’t look ill, he seemed fine to me. It’s scary how quickly your life changes – one minute I was going to be a nurse and the next I was living this nightmare.

I’ve been so lucky with my recovery worker; she’s been there right from the word go and she always has time for me. It’s not that you just come in, get your script and leave; she actually really cares about what’s happening in my life. I’d come in to see her and have a little cry and then she’d pick me up again.

I think it’s really important that people feel in control of their own recovery. Sometimes when I was in treatment it felt like my life was being taken away from me, but when I felt in control of my recovery, that’s when I started getting it together.

I’ve noticed some huge changes in myself. I’m so confident now – I used to have terrible anxiety to the point where if I saw people in the pharmacy I’d just walk away. Now I can go into the shops and chatter away to people. And oh God, how I laugh now! I’ll watch something funny and I just can’t stop laughing! I love YouTube, I really do; their videos have gotten me through some pretty tough times.

I feel really lucky because I know a lot of people have it worse than me. I’ve never lost my kids and I’m so grateful for that because I love them to pieces. We’re really close in my family, and they’ve been incredibly supportive. Thank goodness my kids are clued up about drugs now. I am so confident they would never touch anything because they saw what their mum went through and the impact that had on our whole family.

I don’t talk openly about my recovery because I feel so ashamed and guilty – the guilt is terrible. People say some awful things to you. Once someone said to me “why don’t you just inject yourself and die?” How did we get to the point where people think it’s okay to say that? Addiction is often a cry for help from people who are scared and vulnerable; people have no idea of the damage words like that can do.

I haven’t touched heroin for five years and I’ve reduced my methadone script down from 80mg to 6mg. Looking back now I begged my recovery worker not to reduce my script, please, not by a single mg! I didn’t think I could cope. But here I am; I did it. And I know, with the right support, other people can too.

*Name has been changed to protect service user’s identity.

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