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What young people say:
I’m Rose (13) and my mam has been drinking for half of my life. This has had an effect on me in lots of different ways. I feel like I haven’t had a childhood and had to grow up faster than others. I have anger problems towards everything, kick off and aggressive towards things.
I am extremely conscious about money, get anxious about it, not having enough. Makes me feel like giving up and want the happy times that I used to remember.
Sometimes there is not enough food in the house. The house looks like a tip, laundry does not get done. I am not able to have friends around because of my mam. I have had to pay for my bus fares to school and food out of my pocket money. Mam borrows my money saying it’s for food then goes and buys drink. This makes me feel awful.
One year when family came down for New Year mam started drinking. On the day they were due to leave Mam disappeared and didn’t return for 5 days. I missed school the next day because I was so worried. Social Care had to find me a place to stay.
Knowing my friends are there and keeping busy helps me. I hate having time to think. I am a sea cadet and hope to join the Navy when I leave school.
I want my mam to get sorted and get help for her alcohol use.
My husband and I have been together for nearly 40 years, we have a 20 year old son.
Everything was going well until the age of 14 when we started to get called into school for what seemed to be minor, silly incidents. It was a strict school and being an individual was not tolerated. My son was unhappy so I took him out of school and found him another one which took three months, he never really settled there.
At 16 he started going out to gigs and clubs with friends, he would do anything to fit in, his friends meant the world to him. Should have noticed he was changing but I thought it was just part of growing up.
Eventually I realised he was taking a substance – not alcohol, as he would be up all night. Turning lights off, opening windows and drowning himself in water. I was in denial, not my son, he had always been very affectionate, made an effort with all the family, made everyone laugh.
Over the next two years our lives became a living nightmare – arguments, confrontation and always the same reaction. I hid his drug use from everyone, I knew they would be as devastated as I was.
I spent all my time trying to persuade him to give up (ketamine), promised him everything, but he still preferred the drug.
He left for University but would come home to party every weekend and could not keep up with his lessons. Wasting his time, and our money, so he came home. He enrolled at college and things went well, for a while, but then the old behaviour started again. Back to the living nightmare. I was always so scared that he would hurt himself.
He always apologised but nothing changed and the strain of this life started to become all consuming, my husband and I never left the house and we started to withdraw from friends.
I came across PROPS when desparatley searching the internet for answers. I called them and they offered me a lifeline.
We arranged to go along and talk to someone. It was amazing to be able to discuss our situation.
PROPS were so helpful advising us how to react in different situations. I started Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) which has been fantastic, talking to other parents who are going through similar things. It was so therapeutic to know that we were not alone.
Sheila, aged 54 and not her real name, came to PROPS in October 2014 feeling powerless to deal with her 22 year old son’s six-year-long drug addiction, which had taken over her life:
“We thought nothing more could be done. Every waking minute was spent worrying.”
Sheila knew he was using cannabis but mostly turned a blind eye, however she thought there was a bigger problem, saying:
“I saw white powder and blue tablets lying around but didnâ€™t know what they were or what to do.”
Sheila and her husband weren’t sure if their efforts were having any impact on their son, stating:
“Nothing had worked and we thought: we can’t go on like this.”
They were introduced to Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), offering structure to help them move forward in a positive way:
“CRAFT taught us how to speak to our son about things and not simply argue, but let him know about the consequences if he didn’t do certain things to help his recovery.”
They had eight sessions and then Behavioural Couples Therapy (BCT), which supports the family member and their substance misusing relative over 12 weeks. Their son was initially resistant but Sheila had new confidence with CRAFT:
“Even if he didn’t want to go I knew from CRAFT that we could deal with anything that could happen.”
She thought they had a fighting chance once her son had agreed to try BCT despite having already tried lots of other things she thought had been successful.
“When he said that he would attend I hoped things would change in time, but progress was quick.”
BCT taught Sheila to focus on the present and the future, not the past. It helped her to see that arguing and nagging heightened conflict and anxiety. Her relationship with her son is now much stronger because of mutual honesty:
“I didn’t think I would ever believe or trust anything he said again because he had lied to save my feelings about what he had taken, but now I do trust him.”
Sheila said: “I strongly recommend CRAFT followed by BCT.”
Sheila and her son still attend BCT. She proudly said how far he had come from a daily drug user to someone in full recovery making positive life changes. She said with a smile:
“I can now get on with my life. I can see light at the end of the tunnel and I’m proud of him and his progress.”
PROPS – Positive Response to Overcoming Problems of Substance Misuse, is a North East based support service for individuals, families and carers of those living with alcohol and substance misuse.
PROPS provides a wide range of support services such as: one-to-one support, counselling, drug awareness training, a confidential out-of-hours helpline, volunteer support and respite breaks.
Please remember that you are not alone and we have a dedicated and friendly team here to help you if you are living with, or caring for someone misusing drugs or alcohol. Call our helpline on 0191 226 3440.