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I started out, like many people, experimenting with alcohol and other drugs. The difference with me was that right from the beginning any substance changed me, from someone who was pretty insecure, full of self-loathing and self-conscious to someone who just didn’t care. It wasn’t so much that using gave me confidence that was authentic, more that the numbness created, within me, a very convincing bravado. Instantly, I wanted more.  From a young age, drugs and acquiring more drugs became top priority in my life. It affected my school life, in later years my work life, but most importantly it affected my relationships with others. Over time, I wreaked devastation around me, hurting those I loved more than any others

I became a criminal, I became an incompetent mother. I ended up going to prison and my child was removed from my care.

I became so low and depressed that I attempted to take my own life, several times. I put myself into dangerous situations and was unable to protect myself from predators. As the years went on (over 40 years of active addiction) things got steadily worse. I had no hope, as in despair and prayed for death.

By chance, or a miracle some would say, I bumped into someone I had used with six months previously. She looked healthy, happy and confident. A new woman. I wanted to know how she did it and there began the recovery journey.

I started to go to mutual aid groups and signed up at the local drug and alcohol service. I had done this before, but this time I willingly admitted I needed help and accepted it. I did everything possible to get clean and stay clean.

After 12 weeks of being abstinent, I began volunteering as a Peer Mentor. I received a lot of training, support and my well being improved because it feels good to carry the candle of hope to another suffering addict. I then got a job at the local drug and alcohol service I had attended, on reception. I loved it, I was busy, I was useful and I was able to offer a smile and a kind word to all who walked through the door.

Then, I got the opportunity to work for red Rose Recovery (RRR), seconded to the Liaison & Diversion team at Blackpool Custody. (I can tell you, I still get a kick being able to freely walk around a police station!) The best part of this was being to directly support vulnerable people towards their own recovery journey. I received massive support from RRR and needed it too. This really boosted my confidence and my skillset. I again received a great training package, learned a lot and met some amazing people. After a time, an opportunity arose to join the NHS side of the job, still working for the Liaison and Diversion team but as a member of the NHS – with a bit of an increase in income too. I went for it, RRR supported me through the process – big thank you to them – and I was fortunate enough to be offered the post. And that’s where I am now. Is the story over? No, it is just the beginning.

I hope this brief synopsis of my story will inspire others to take their first step and begin their own adventure. Can I call myself a champion? Darn right, I believe I’ve earned it!