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Parent Support Link Success Stories

My Grandson

 My grandson needed me when my daughter wasn’t around….

I’ve lived and worked in the same town for 49 of my 52 years. I’ve got a strong circle of friends, a long-term partner and a long-term job working in the community. In my time, I’ve been a heavy drinker and have even smoked cannabis, but my daughter’s drug use is very different.

When Beth first told me, I took it in my stride

About 10 years ago Beth, my daughter, started experimenting with heroin . Her boyfriend was an addict and she began to use it more and more. After about a year she told me about it – we’ve always had an open relationship. I think I took it in my stride, but it was very clear that her drug use was very different from my youthful experimentation.

But then I realised how much the heroin had taken over

Soon I realised that heroin had taken over Beth’s life. Of course, I nagged her about what she was doing to herself. But it quickly became clear that this wasn’t helping things between us. What’s more, my anxiety was damaging things between my partner and me.

Focusing attention on my grandson made me less anxious and depressed

As Beth became increasingly dependent, I realised that she was becoming less capable of looking after her young son. He was missing school because she couldn’t always get him there, so I suggested that I could look after him during the week. Soon he was living full time with me. I work at night and then take him to school in the morning. Caring for him has made me less anxious and depressed because I’ve got to be strong for him – and I’m optimistic about his life.

But the harsh reality is that things are still difficult for Beth

Life is still up and down. A few months ago, Beth was taken into hospital with blood clots on her heart. She was lucky and survived. At first I thought this scare might help her stick to her treatment programme, but I don’t think that is happening. I see Beth when I can and, whenever we talk, I tell her I love her. But sometimes she disappears for weeks on end. The harsh reality is that I can’t make her stop. She’ll either live or die. This is really hard for all of us, particularly as her ex-boyfriend – and father of her son – died of a heroin overdose three years ago.

 

Pauline’s Story

“I was angry that he’d had drugs in the house – and that this might have put my daughter’s safety in jeopardy. I want people to feel comfortable in my home, and I like to make people feel happy. That’s why it’s been hard not to feel responsible for what happened to my daughter.”

I thought it was my fault that my daughter had started using drugs

When I first found out that my daughter was using cannabis , then heroin, I blamed myself for being a weak parent. My marriage had broken down and I wanted my children to stay with me, so I had let them do what they liked. When I told my own brothers and sisters about my daughter, they showed very little sympathy and I felt sort of let down. But my friends were great. One of them even trailed round squats with me when my daughter was at a really low point and had left home.

We’ve had real ups and downs, and lots of false dawns

My daughter has been on a number of programmes, and I’ve always tried to stay in touch. She has alternated between telling me how much she needs me, and pushing me away. It’s been difficult emotionally and financially. Once, I paid for her to attend a training programme, but she was soon back using drugs. Another time I helped her through her first long rehabilitation programme, and she stayed clean for eight months. Just before she went into her third treatment programme, I realised I was close to losing her. She was only five stone, she was shoplifting, and she was desperate to go to prison so she could get help with her problem.

I demanded action from the rehabilitation programme

I needed to know where my daughter was so I could help to look after her. As a result, our lives became more and more inter-twined. Once, I drove her to the place she did her shoplifting and then to her dealer. Finally, I went to the rehabilitation project and told them they had to help her straight away. They said there was an eight-week wait, so I said, “Eight weeks – you will have blood on your hands if you make her wait that long”. They put her down for the following week.

My daughter has now been clean for a year

I’m really proud of my daughter – she’s been clean for a year now. She sent me a letter recently telling me what a great mum I am and how I shouldn’t feel guilty about the way she’s been brought up. But the most important thing I’ve learnt is that no parent can ever persuade their child to go into treatment. At the end of the day it was her decision.

 

Sharon’s Story

I used to have an image about what the mother of a drug addict was like…..

I thought it was all about bad parenting: scumbags take drugs and bad parents make scumbags. When I discovered my son was taking drugs, that image haunted me for ages.

I turned a blind eye until I couldn’t ignore it any longer

My son was only 14 when I first guessed he was abusing substances. Aerosols regularly went missing, then cigarettes . I didn’t know anything about drugs and, to a certain degree, I turned a blind eye to it. He didn’t look like a druggie. But after a few years he was experimenting with heroin and had a criminal record for stealing to feed his habit. On one occasion he attacked me. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Then I blamed myself.

At first I blamed myself and thought I was a ‘bad mother’. I had no social life and started to take anti-depressants . I wasn’t me anymore, I’d just become the mother of a drug addict, someone on a psychiatrist’s list – everything except Sharon.

It took a long time to sort things out – I felt really isolated

I went for counselling but that didn’t work out. Then my other son started suffering from behavioural problems, which made it even more difficult to get help. When the neighbours found out about my sons, they sort of formed cliques to isolate me. Even now, close friends are in short supply. But I established a community scheme in my area to help tackle drug problems and now my social life tends to revolve around that.

Ten years on, I know it’s not over, but at least I can look forward now

I’ve been coping with drugs for over 10 years and I know my journey isn’t over. But before, I could never bear to look more than one day ahead. Now I’ve got my community work, and I’ve got plans to study and become qualified in it. I used to be a battered mum and the mother of an addict. Now I’m making a real difference in my community.

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