How I survived crack

The tears trickled down my face, over the scabs caused by stress
and malnutrition. Then came huge sobs – I could barely breathe for
crying. I was 24 and sitting in an accident and emergency
department with abscesses covering the length of each arm and the
backs of my legs. I also had an array of blue and purple bruises
covering almost every inch of my body, including my neck. To make
matters worse, two children were swapping seats to stare in awe at
the pus oozing out of my abscesses.

This was all the result of a £200 a day crack-cocaine and
heroin addiction. I had supported it for years through my partner
who sold drugs, despite his frequent, violent attacks. That night
in A&E I felt dejected, totally humiliated and more isolated
and empty inside then ever. I had reached my lowest ever point –
physically, emotionally and mentally. Finally I realised that drugs
were not the answer to my problems.

Two years later my life is the complete opposite. I have a new
house, a new car and I am studying on a practitioners’ skills
course and for an MSc degree in addiction counselling. I also work
voluntarily as a peer support worker and in a paid capacity as a
trainee counsellor at Ripple Drug Services in Bradford.

Next month I hope to start employment for Ripple on its criminal
justice intervention programme. I recently attended an
international conference for addiction treatment professionals in
Atlanta, US. On my return I took part in a user consultation
interview with the National Treatment Agency’s commissions

The most valuable commodity I have gained is peace of mind. Now I
have excellent relationships with my family and some true
friendships. I know exactly who I am.

How did I change from simply existing, to having such an exciting
and fulfilling life? Well, I attended Ripple’s day care
rehabilitation programme, which uses the 12-step philosophy of
Alcoholics Anonymous. This approach is combined with one-to-one
counselling, facilitated group sessions, didactic teaching to help
me understand my addiction, and learning life-skills and coping
strategies. Initially I hated the programme but I kept on going
because it provided me with hope and the knowledge that I was not
alone. From seeing others who were in recovery from addiction, and
leading successful lives, I gained the belief that it was possible
for me too. I can safely say that a methadone prescription alone
was not sufficient treatment for me, after all I had had one for
four out of the five years I was using.

I needed a holistic treatment because drug addiction attacks every
aspect of your life. I faced my fears and the pain of my past and
it was definitely worth it. A friend of mine says that all of us
who come into recovery are warriors and we truly are. I know that
if I continue to work the 12 steps and attend Narcotics Anonymous,
I can not only remain drug-free but also have a “life beyond my
wildest dreams,” just as the literature promises. I have that
already. Just imagine what the future holds.

Kate Brightmore is a recovering drug addict and a drug
agency volunteer.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.