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A Story

Below you will find a story from Ellie - a recovering addict.

Ellie's Story

Ellie (not her real name) is a recovering addict.

I was born on the 3rd September 1997. My mum and dad was still together at this point and my brother was four years older than me. I was about three when my mum and dad got married. After this point life became not so great. My dad became abusive, physically and mentally to my mum and it was very difficult to watch. Being so young, I didn’t know what to do. My dad was a very jealous man and took his anger out on anyone near him. When I was about six he then turned abusive towards me and my ten year old brother. He was was abusive by hitting us, kicking, pushing and shoving. He even hit the walls and doors, not just us. Mental abuse was name calling, swearing, screaming and shouting. It made me feel defenceless and so small. I was very confused why he was doing this to his family. I was only young and didn’t know how to act.

After this I can never really remember any good times with him around. Police would get calls about domestic violence from neighbours and my brother, even when he was away with this friend and his friend’s family inGreat Yarmouth. My mum always said everything was OK as she was scared what my dad would do next and I remember life at his point was a struggle. When I used to hear my mum and dad argue, I would run to my bedroom, grab my barbie suitcase and pack my favourite book and run out of the house to the park across the street and sit on the bench until my mum came over to find me. School was the only nice place to be as I would get away from the arguing and hits.

When I was about eight years old my dad confessed to having an affair. I remember this happened around the dinner table, eating a Sunday roast and he then left us. In a way I was sad that he done this to our family home but also grateful that the abuse would stop. My dad still saw me and my brother on the weekends and took us out places like swimming, but me and my brother was very closed off. My mum was struggling to work a full time job being a manager while trying to look after two young children.

When I was around nine it was decided I would go and live with my dad and his new girlfriend. I was dreading this but I never got a say. I had to change primary schools which was very stressful for me. I started acting up in school, being the class joker and always getting sent out for talking. When I was living under my dad’s roof, contact with my mum became…sparse. his was because my dad would control this. I really wanted to see her but it was always under my dad’s terms. I missed her and my brother a lot. I had phone calls and the occasional visit and she tried to see me more, but my dad refused a lot. My mum met a new man which then led to them being in a relationship. I was so happy my mum found happiness again - she deserved it.

I was still living with my dad [and] very unhappy. The abuse started again and I just thought, ‘here we go again’. I wanted to move back with my mum and brother because the abuse got too much. I even remember dad kicking me to the floor because I expressed this. So I then started acting up more to make this happen.

When I was eleven my mum told me she was pregnant. I was happy as I always wanted a younger brother or sister. But also confused why I still had to live with my dad, but she was getting support from her boyfriend and had to cut her hours. This made me want to move back even more and I really started to act up even more. My behaviour pushed all the boundaries even though I knew what the outcome would be. It finally worked. My dad just dumped me on my mum’s doorstep and drove off but I was happy to be safe again and back home with my mum, brother and mum’s boyfriend.

I was then getting ready to transition to secondary school and I felt happy but nervous too. When I was twelve my little sister was born. It felt amazing to be a big sister and I couldn’t wait to take on this role. I started secondary school, it was nerve-racking but I still managed to fit in. My dad was still not talking to me one year later after leaving his house but I really didn’t care as I was a damaged girl from a broken home, which made me never trust a man. (The first man in my life broke me). We were not a very big family, all I really had was my mum, brother, sister, stepdad and the family dog. I didn’t see much of other relatives.

When I was around fourteen I started going out with peers from school at the weekends. This was when I first experimented with alcohol and smoking cigarettes, standing outside shops getting passers by to buy us cigarettes, vodka and cider, and this went for a year. It then turned to drugs. I enjoyed that more so the drink wore off and I started smoking more.

I was still in secondary school being the class clown which I do regret as I could of left with predicted grades, which was A’s and B’s. I was being sent home and excluded for truancy because I would alway bunk lessons to get high. Turning fifteen on my last day at school I found out my brother was smoking weed but also taking and dealing methadone. I wanted to know what he felt like taking it so I asked a friend to buy some for me, knowing he would never sell it if he knew it would be for me. I felt really good taking it. It gave me energy and I could talk or walk for ages.

My dad then made contact with me and I was nervous and angry but willing to see if he had changed, which he had. I then left school with grades and went to college to study animal care and I got a part-time job working at a chip shop to get some money. Just before my sixteenth birthday my brother went to prison for selling drugs. He got a three year sentence and this made me sad and lost as we was very close. I was hurting and I missed him a lot which then led to me doing drugs more often, trying ecstasy and cocaine. I then got introduced to illegal raves which I attended quite a lot.

I done two years at college doing animal care in the week and party life at the weekends, still smoking cannabis daily. My brother then got released early for good behaviour and I was glad he was home as prison wasn’t nice at such a young age. Just before my eighteenth birthday I passed my driving test, which was great. I got a new job working at a gun shop and shooting range. I loved it and this was when I started to settle down. I was working a lot of hours but I didn’t mind. I started to build up more of a trust in my dad as he wasn’t an angry man any more. Then I got into a new relationship which was going great, but about year later when I was nineteen he turned abusive just like my dad did. He would always take my phone, thinking I was cheating. He would take all my wages for cannabis and weed to last out. I did love him so I thought I could change his ways - but I never did. I put up with this for around three years, seeing traits of my dad which brought back lots of bad memories for me. I then decided to leave as the love died and I knew he would never change. I started smoking more at this point and doing methadone and cocaine and attending parties again.

At aged twenty-two I met a new bunch of peers who introduced me to ketamine. I didn’t really like it as first but took it to fit in. I was only taking it at weekends at this point, but then I built up a tolerance, so started to take it more often. I stopped all the other drugs, apart from ketamine and cocaine. At twenty-three I got in a new relationship and he was also on ketamine. Turning twenty-four I was taking it daily as it made me forget all the past trauma temporarily and it felt good - but then I started to notice the effect on my health. I read online about ketamine bladder syndrome and as I had most of the symptoms I was scared. I started to get in a lot of pain but I was still taking ketamine to make me forget about the pain, but I always felt worse after, but I carried on stupidly, anyway.

Turning twenty-five, my family noticed I was bad on drugs - my brother warned me of all the bad stuff that comes with drugs as I saw with him and he was now clean, but that never stopped me. I got stopped for possession with intent to supply because I had a lot of drugs on me, which in court got dropped down to possession. I was scared I was going too prison just like my brother and I had to pay a big court fine.

Turning twenty-six I was still heavy on ketamine, my health getting even worse and family starting to not try to help me anymore. It really affected my little sister and she started to self harm because thought she could never save me. This was when I knew I had to do something. I reached out to CGL (Change Grow Live, dug services) telling them I needed rehab but I could never afford it. I made hospital visits because I was scared of my bladder. They told me it was shrunk to the size of a tennis ball and had scarring and I needed to stop to see if could repair. This was when I noticed I fucked up, but I couldn’t stop - I was addicted. I cut down to about 1.5 grams but it was still affecting me and my family. January this year I got made homeless as my mum and sister had enough of everything I was doing to me and them. I survived and at this point I lost everything. My family and myself.

I started self harming and taking prescription medication, hoping I would overdose. I was sleeping rough in my car for about two weeks - this was a very bad time for me. I had duvet, pillows and blanket on my back seats [but] it was winter so I barely got any sleep as I would wake up shivering and frozen. I parked up in industrial estates or side roads. I could go to my mum’s for baths and fresh clothes but would have to leave again. I felt unwanted and awkward. I understand why but it was very difficult for me. When I saw my dad he would give me money for food and petrol but he was worried, thinking I would spend the money on drugs. I could also go to his for dinner.

The outreach team for the council came out and saw me and my living conditions and confirmed I was homeless and sleeping rough. Then I got put into a homeless hostel and my usage went up as I feel alone as I lost everyone important to me. I was still working closing with CGL to try and get me help. My weight got low down to 5.5 stone. Around July 2023 I got awarded funding for rehab and this felt great. It’s what I needed. I reconnected with family but it wasn’t a strong relationship as they have been hurt so much but they was happy for me. I was finally getting the help I needed and wanted. I ended my relationship as he wasn’t willing to change and I needed that for my recovery.

When we split up I got lots of abuse by texts - calling me names like I was ugly, no wonder why my family have disowned me and when he kills himself it would all be my fault and he hopes I never am able to walk properly again. The list goes on, he turned vile. It made me emotional and depressed even more but I learned he was only saying stuff he knows would hurt me. I can’t remember a time we didn't take drugs together apart form a week’s holiday in Greece although when we got home we sourced some ketamine. He even had his bladder operated on a few years before we was together. He saw similar signs to me and never influenced me to stop like I did him. It was just a drug fuelled relationship.

In October I got told there was a room in DrugLink - did I want it? I said yes straight away so in early October I was at DrugLink. It was hard saying bye to the family but it needed to happen because I would be dead very soon if not. I haven't looked back since, I’m where I needed to be and will be here till my twelve weeks are up and going into the second stage. I’ve put on weight and started to notice my health is improving. I cannot wait to see how more better I feel after the twelve weeks. All I know is I never want to go back to my old life. The only way is up from here. So, thank you to CGL and DrugLink for giving me a new chance at life!

November 2023

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