“Growing up before I ever took a drink or a drug myself my life was already affected by addiction. All of the men in my family dad, uncles, cousins were all addicts in one form or another. I started to drink myself as young as five or six; my granddad would use me as an excuse to go to the pub, saying he was taking me fishing or to the park. When I was nine my mother died suddenly. She was the only one who disciplined us and then in the care of my father, we were able to do whatever we wanted. By the time I was eleven I was a daily drinker and user.
I began to experiment with drugs by collecting all of the joint ends and making myself a joint. There was lots of strong medication about the house which I began to experiment with. This resulted in me overdosing. One story I’ve been told is I slept once for three days after taking painkillers. It was sometime after this I went for treatment for the first time in Aislinn house. I remember arriving there and being only seven stone. Looking back now I must have been in a very bad way because they kept me there for nine weeks instead of the usual six. My time there went okay but I never had any intention of giving up anything as I was still having fun using.
After I was thrown out of home, I came into contact with MTAS Day Assessment and Treatment Service and Cara Lodge. The counselling and support I received there was great. I really enjoyed my time in Cara Lodge. I was very anxious going there to begin with. Being here was the first time I had ever realistically thought about giving up drink and drugs. When the fog began to clear and I was able to think and function properly without the aid of a substance, the guilt and shame set in and the thoughts of what I put my family and others around me through was a heavy burden to bear. During the time I spent here my family situation also improved. Having nowhere to go when I left a staff member temporarily fostered me and I spent a year living with him and his wife.
Cara Lodge has given me the chance to see that you can live a happy life without the aid of drugs and alcohol. I’ve been clean and sober for nearly five years and have a fabulous life. I returned to education gaining a degree in Youth and Community Work. I have also retuned to Cara Lodge as part of the team and I am very proud and happy to help others who may be in a similar position and show them that there is hope.”