Changing the lives of adult children of addicts who were severely neglected and forgotten as children

The Recovery Project, part of BHT’s Addiction Services

Over the last couple of years, BHT’s Addiction Services have noticed an increase in the number of “second generation” addicts – children who grew up with one, or both, parents with a severe alcohol and/or drug and who, therefore, suffered extreme neglect and, in most cases, severe trauma.

The nature of the work that we do at both the Detox Support Project and the Recovery Project is helping clients to address safely the legacy of their core needs being unmet as children.  This reduces the risk that those issues do not become triggers for relapse and they are able to rebuild their lives with the skills and self-belief they were not given as children.

B is a 31-year old alcohol and cocaine addict who completed treatment with our services (Detox Support Project and Recovery Project) in August 2017, and this is the account of his life:

Hi my name is B and I am a recovering addict who is from Brighton. When I was a kid I realised at a young age that my Mum was an addict. When I was first born I was put into care for a few years with my two sisters, but then my mum got me back with her when I was about 4 years old.

As I was growing up there was a lot of drug use going on in our home. I remember not having many rules in place by my mum from a very young age. I remember missing a lot of school and waiting for my mum for hours each day to come home.

It was when I was about 10 that I realised what sort of drugs my mum was on. I found out at this age my mum was a heroin user. We would find dirty needles in the house and drugs all over the place. We hardly had anything to eat, we basically had to fend for ourselves.

We got evicted from our family home and put in temporary accommodation in Brighton. There was me and my two sisters, my mum and her boyfriend in a one bedroom B&B. My mum put my older sister in care at this time so it was me and my other sister left. This sister looked after me more than my mum because she wasn’t capable.

We used to see my mum injecting heroin in front of us and she was always out of it. We witnessed a lot of abuse towards her and to us by her boyfriend at the time. My sister ended up being put into care and I was the only child left with my mum. I was 11 years old. My mum used to get me to beg on the streets for her to fund her habit, and I was staying in squats and B&BS with her. A few months after this I ended up going into a foster home myself.

When I was in this foster home after about a year my mum come and took me and my sister away with her without social services knowing. At this time she told me and my sister one night she was going to the shops. We wouldn’t see her for another 2 years because she just disappeared and was back on the streets in Brighton using heroin. She left me and my sister to look after ourselves. We ended up back in the care home.

It was when I was about 14 I started using drink and drugs myself. I started drinking and using heavily from this age. When I was 16 years old my mum died from having pneumonia while she was living on the streets in Brighton.  She was using heroin at the time so her body couldn’t fight it off.

Since my mum died I used drugs and alcohol near enough every day, I nearly killed myself many times and put my family through the pain that my mum put me and my sisters through when we were kids. I was an alcoholic and a cocaine addict for many years. In the end I lost everything. I lost my home and all my family relationships, I ended up homeless myself living on a beach in Shoreham. This was when I realised I needed help.

My sister put me in contact with Pavilions who guided me to the Detox Support Project. The day I arrived at the Detox Support Project as a client was the day my life changed for ever. I had so much support from staff and my peers and for the first time in my life I got clean and began to like being me again.

I was in the Detox Support Project for 6 weeks. I learned so much in there about me and how to live life normally without drugs inside of me.

I then progressed onto the next stage at the Recovery Project. I really done a lot of work on myself in there and began to build a new life for my self. When I was a client at the Recovery Project I put a lot of my demons to rest and began to accept some of the things that happened in my child hood. I started doing voluntary work up at the Detox Support Project and ended up getting the privilege to be an intern there.

I now have my family back in my life and have a brand new life which is worth living. I will be starting work as cover staff at the Detox Support Project in a few weeks’ time. I am truly grateful to the life given to me by BHT Addiction Services and all the support I have received.

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