September 22, 2021
Support with substance misuse and domestic abuse in Merseyside
I’ve recovered from drug and alcohol addiction to be reunited with my children after four years
In 2017, Lisa admits she had ‘given up on life’, her world spiralled out of control as her relationship broke down and she tried to manage her postnatal depression. As she lost the support network of her partner and her mental health declined Lisa began to use drugs and alcohol heavily as a coping mechanism. She was no longer able to cope with the pressures of parenthood and decided to give over custody of her children. Now facing life on her own, Lisa became increasingly vulnerable. When she entered an abusive relationship in 2018 this is when things really took a dark turn for her – a turn that whilst devastating proved to be the wakeup call she needed to get her life back on track.
I used drugs and alcohol to escape my postnatal depression
Lisa maintained contact with her children when she first decided she could not care for them full-time but, as is the often the case with addiction, she soon began to shut out her loved ones. She would miss scheduled visits with her children or arrive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unable to spend quality time with them. Substance misuse had taken over her life and she couldn’t see a way out. As Lisa’s addiction developed, she started to use harder drugs which led to her becoming homeless. She explains how this chapter of her life saw her doing things she’d never imagined possible, with endless parties to block out reality and a total disconnect from her life before. Lisa disappeared from the lives of those who knew her best as her addiction took control of her. She explains how she made out her life was one ‘big joke, a cover up’, for how mentally unwell she really was at the time. In 2018 when Lisa was living in shared accommodation, she met a man who offered her some of the home comforts she was so desperately missing. The man was Lisa’s drug dealer and he lived close by. They developed a relationship and he offered her a roof over her head and protection from the turbulent scene she had entered. Lisa grabbed this apparent safety raft with both hands. But with this came new stormy seas which threatened not only her stability but her life.
I experienced domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts
Lisa explains how she was overwhelmed that someone could be interested in her – she’d lost all her confidence and couldn’t see the warning signs with her now ex-partner. All contact Lisa did have with her family disappeared as he began to coercively control her. Lisa didn’t recognise this happening, her drug use and the elation of finding a flicker of hope masked all the negatives. Soon the domestic abuse developed and became physical. Lisa’s abuser locked her in the house, her phone was hidden from her and she was regularly beaten. So depressed, lost and alone Lisa tried to take her on life through a drug overdose, seeing suicide as the only way out. She felt totally helpless, drowning in the manipulation and the shame she felt. Lisa tried to escape unsuccessfully so many times, she had to teach herself not to show any emotion because her abuser would revel in this. Lisa says she can’t recognise the person she had become today. One night Lisa managed to get out of the house, she hid in a friend’s house but her abuser found her and beat her on the street. It was at this point that Lisa knew she needed to reach out to her family, her life was on such thin ice. In 2020, Lisa escaped this abusive relationship, determined to get herself and her children back.
How I got support with my drug and alcohol addiction
Lisa moved in with her mum for four weeks and began a drug and alcohol detox independently through sheer willpower and determination. She stopped her drug use completely and had to reduce alcohol intake gradually because of her dependence and the dangers of stopping suddenly. After so many ups and downs of this experience she decided to seek support and got in touch with Transforming Choice, a residential detox and rehabilitation service in Liverpool. She called them every single day until they had a bed available for her. Lisa did a 12-week intense therapy course through Transforming Choice to understand what had led to her addiction and to address these issues. This really supported her to see things from a different perspective for the first time and to understand her illness. During this time Lisa began to see her children again with unsupervised visits. In October 2020 Lisa graduated but asked if she could go back again to learn more and to demonstrate how serious she was about getting her children back in her life full-time. At this point, Lisa was referred to our Family Impact:Drugs and Alcohol service to access a parenting course. ‘I wanted to get better as a mum’ says Lisa, ‘All the support I’ve had from Karen at PSS has been amazing and I’m glad to have her as part of my journey’.
I’m so happy to have my children back in my life, I have big plans for the future
The transformation that Lisa has made since starting her recovery has been extraordinary. She’s completed a health and social care qualification with Learning Foundry and now aspires to support other people like her in the future. And – most importantly – she’s now able to see her children two days a week on an unsupervised visit as she works towards getting everything she needs in place to have full-time custody. Lisa’s determination is truly inspirational, she’s completed around ten different educational certificates since starting to access support, she’s now accessing support from our Ruby@Turnaround team to manage her experiences of domestic abuse, she’s volunteering to support other people recovering from substance misuse and she’s delivering sessions in Hope University to health and social care workers of tomorrow. She wants her story to reach out to others so that they can turn their lives around just like she has. ‘You’ve got to want the support enough and be determined’, says Lisa. It seems ‘hard to get out of it when you’re stuck in it, you don’t think there’s anyone out there, you think people will belittle you and shove you away but people do care’. Our team are so proud of the journey that Lisa has been on and the tenacity she has shown to never stop reaching. What an amazing person.
Are you a parent recovering from substance misuse or a grandparent who’s supporting children because of drug or alcohol addiction in the family in Merseyside?
To find out more about our Family Impact: Drugs and Alcohol support service in Merseyside click here.
Are you experiencing domestic abuse in Merseyside?
To find out more about our Ruby@Turnaround domestic abuse support service in Merseyside click here.