The first thing I’d reach for each morning was a line of cocaine to help get me out of bed.
It was a vicious cycle – I was feeling rough from the bender the day before and to cope, I’d jump right back into my drug and alcohol addictions.
Then I’d walk out into the kitchen and prepare breakfast for my children to start their day.
Over the course of the day, I’d pour myself a seemingly endless amount of wine to cope with it all and carry on through with treating myself to lines of coke.
At the height of my addictions, I was a shell of a mother. I thought I could juggle parenthood with what I perceived as my way of coping. It wasn’t until I got sober that I truly saw how wrong I was.
I married my husband over 15 years ago and we had our first child not long after. I absolutely loved being a new mum, especially because I had worked in childcare so I knew the score and motherhood came relatively easy to me.
By the time we had our second child, something shifted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I started to resent my husband because his life hadn’t completely changed and mine had.
He was still doing the same job, travelling all the time for work and he had two gorgeous kids to come home to. For me, it felt like my life had radically altered and my world revolved around my children so I lost my own identity.
I was also putting pressure on myself as a mother to be perfect and I couldn’t sustain it. I developed postnatal depression because I really struggled to cope.
In an effort to relieve some of this pressure, I craved downtime so I regularly looked forward to getting a babysitter in and having a night out with my girlfriends every weekend.
Whenever that would happen, I would go wild and I was more determined to have fun and make the most of it than ever before.
I needed freedom and I really felt like I deserved to party because I didn’t have a life outside my family anymore.
When my group of mum friends all got together, we spurred each other on. We’d have copious amounts of alcohol and a few lines of coke to treat ourselves after a long week of parenting. Around half my fellow mum friends were taking cocaine, so I justified it.
Over time, girly dinners with drinks and dancing turned into lunches with free-flowing wine and lines of coke. The lines got fatter and my partying became out of control.
For me, social media didn’t help.
There are so many memes about mums who drink and party. From Instagram and TikTok videos, jokes about how alcohol helps people get through parenting makes it look like it’s OK. A lot of parents excuse their behaviour because of this.
I would’ve argued at the time that my drinking and drug use wasn’t having an effect on my kids, but it was – because it was having an effect on me and then that would negatively affect them.
It’s really easy to think that you deserve the night out, but actually, your kids don’t deserve the fallout from it or you not being your best for them. It became a painful cycle.
My marriage broke down and my addictions spiralled out of control
Initially, my addictions only really came out when I was with friends, but then I found myself drinking and using drugs when I was by myself.
My husband would travel for work a lot so there’d be evenings where I’d put my children to bed and just feel incredibly lonely. I felt like there was a void and that I deserved to treat myself – alcohol and drugs became my way to unwind.
In 2017, my marriage broke down and my addictions spiralled out of control. At its peak, I was using up to £200 of cocaine per day to numb my pain.
I thought that because the kids were still being fed and looked after, I was a functioning addict, but I wasn’t actually present for them. Looking back, I can see that this is how I was failing them the most.
They didn’t know the full extent of my problem, but they knew that mummy didn’t like mornings and would often be in bed. I’d tell them I had ‘migraines’, but of course, it’d be a hangover from the night of heavy partying I’d done.
My wild nights out carried on until lockdown hit in March 2020 and going out with my friends as a way of stress relief wasn’t legally allowed anymore.
Lockdown was a living hell for me.
I got to a point when I wasn’t in control of anything and the drugs controlled me. It was extremely painful – the guilt and helplessness crept in bit by bit. Eventually, I wasn’t sleeping or eating.
By February last year, the toll of both lockdown and my addictions caught up with me. I had lost weight, I was barely working for my marketing and PR clients, I lost friendships and I’d massively isolated myself from everyone and everything. I got to a point where it was just me, drugs and drink.
I had been drinking alcohol excessively and using drugs for 13 years by that point.
I was in agony with my mental health and I didn’t know how to get myself out. So that’s when the thoughts of self-harm crept in and I actually thought my kids would be better off without me.
I suddenly stopped myself from thinking that way and knew right then and there that I needed to reach out to ask for help.
I looked up resources online for quitting drugs and alcohol, but specifically for people who can’t just drop everything and check themselves into rehab. I’m a single mum so I needed a programme that could work around my parenting schedule.
By this stage in the pandemic, the rehab centre Help Me Stop was offering six weeks of intensive treatment online for cocaine and alcohol addiction – including one-on-one therapy and group meetings. So I signed up for it and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
During my first session, I just cried every time I opened my mouth and tried to say anything. It was during this session that I realised the problem wasn’t necessarily the drugs and alcohol, it was my mental state and letting my postnatal depression spiral like it did.
It took an intense amount of therapy and recovery work to get to the point where I could admit that my kids, who were 13 and 10 by this point, had been affected by my addictions. Going through the treatment programme – and especially opening up to others in group sessions – has been the most life-changing experience for me.
Daily use of cocaine and drinking is destructive and there’s no two ways about that. I was in complete denial about the impact of my addiction on my children and me. But no more.
To anyone else struggling with addiction, I want to let you know that there’s help out there. The unforeseen advantage of the pandemic is that a lot of services have moved online, so accessing support is more available than ever – especially if you have other responsibilities like parenting.
I look back on that time in my life and I really wish I started therapy when I was at the height of my addictions.
Thanks to the support services I accessed, my future is hopeful. Yours can be too.
Find out more about the services Help Me Stop provides on their website here or by calling 0208 191 9191.
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