WHENEVER I see my daughter Amber laughing with her partner Scott about her baby bump I look at her beautiful eyes and realise how far she’s come. For so long I worried she’d never have a normal life. Now at 33 she’s in good health but it wasn’t always so.
Her father John left us when she was 11 months old and I married my second husband Tony, 50, when she was 11. She went to boarding school soon after but with my job as an accountant, a new husband and my two young children Lauren, now 17, and Sam, 16, I was too busy to keep a close eye on Amber.
I thought if Amber ever experimented with drugs such as cannabis it would be just a teenage phase. Even when Tony found tinfoil with brown burn lines in the garden when Amber was around 18 I had no idea she was taking heroin.
I tried to talk to her about it but she always changed the subject. Amber, like most teenagers, spent a lot of time with her friends and rarely told me much about her life.
At 21 she moved in with her new boyfriend Dave. She seemed happy but when she came to visit us she was always in a hurry to leave. She was often agitated and I couldn’t help but notice she was getting thinner. I had no idea how bad things were until a year later when Amber turned 22.
In March 2002, the house where Amber was living with Dave was raided and police seized £2,000 in cash, a gun and an ounce of heroin.
The police called and said they thought Amber was a heroin addict. Shaking with disbelief I agreed for her to be bailed to our address near Aldershot, Hampshire.
She arrived home with sunken eyes, a dirty, sweaty face and greasy hair. What had happened to my beautiful daughter?
That night she told me everything. She said she was 18 when she first took heroin. She thought she could control it. She was told it was a bit of fun. I was devastated but I didn’t know how to help her.
“Can’t you wean yourself off it?” I asked but Amber explained it wasn’t that simple. At night I would cry myself to sleep but I never let Amber see. I had to stay strong for her. She lived at home with us but she was still taking heroin and sold jewellery and CDs to raise money for drugs. A so-called friend even tried to drag her into prostitution. Thankfully she was unable to go through with it and begged me tearfully for help.
Amber got Naltrexone tablets, which block the receptors in the brain, from our GP so if she took heroin she wouldn’t get high but she started hiding them in her teeth or making herself sick to get the benefits of the heroin again.
I got so angry at times and I hated her for what she was doing to our family. Tony was angry at her for causing me so much worry and I was caught in the middle.
Amber promised she was beating her addiction but I’d see her pupils contract to pinpricks, a sign she was stoned. Yet my feelings as a mother would always surface. I dreaded her ending up in prison or worse. In July 2002 Amber pleaded guilty to possession of diamorphine and got a two-year conditional discharge. Dave was sentenced to four years, eight months in prison.
However Amber didn’t stop taking heroin until early 2003.
She finally asked me for help so I paid £1,000 to a private clinic for a Naltrexone implant which was inserted under her skin. It stopped her getting high on heroin but she turned to cocaine. As frustrated as I got, I had to remember Amber was living her life on a tightrope.
After six months she got a second implant and slowly she left her addiction behind. She’s now been clean of all drugs for eight years.
Amber and Scott’s baby is due any time now and I’m so proud of the person she is. We have such a wonderful relationship and I’m so grateful. After all, I could have lost her for ever.
I first tried heroin at 18 and liked the numb feeling it gave me. I’d always felt on the outside of my mum’s new family and heroin took the edge off my feelings.
I was on drugs when I met Dave at 21. He was a dealer so I could get it whenever I liked. By the time of the raid I was smoking heroin every four hours with a £200 a day habit.
I sold jewellery, personal stereos and DVDs. I cleared out my bank, maxed out credit cards and asked family and friends for money. I stole my mum’s credit card and withdrew £250. My lowest point was when my mum found out I was an addict. Until then I’d pretended everything was fine. Mum was so strong, even when I lied and let her down she always told me she loved me.
When I tried to stop using, I’d get flu-like aches and pains and sweat as cold as icicles. Depression would envelop me and I thought only heroin would make it better. I felt guilty but I couldn’t stop.
Eventually I realised implants were the answer. If they were inside me I couldn’t cheat and I quickly learnt there was no point wasting money on heroin as the implants stopped any effect. It took a year of struggles and setbacks but I finally stopped using drugs eight years ago.
I’ve changed my life and for the past three years I’ve been studying counselling and psychotherapy as well as working as a store manager.
I met Scott, 38, a chef, just over a year ago and I’ve been honest with him about my addiction. He admires me for my courage and our first baby is due this week.
I’ll take a year off to be with our son and then get back to my course. I want to help other addicts. People cross the road to avoid them but they’re somebody’s child. I know because I was one of them...
(Taken from 'Thin Wire')
Thursday October 25,2012, By Christine Fieldhouse. Daily Express.
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