Stories › Niamh's story

I started drinking and taking heroin when I was 15. I did it because in my area everyone did it, it was the thing to do. For me it was the start of a struggle with addiction that went on for nearly 15 years and nearly destroyed me.

I left school at 15 with no qualifications and ended up strung out on heroin for the next three years. I got involved in petty crime to buy heroin. Although I knew things were getting worse for me I couldn’t break the habit. When other girls my age were getting done up to go out dancing I was strung out. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get my act together and be like them. That was so frustrating for me.

I had my son when I was 18 and that gave me some stability. I got a job and worked for about a year and a half but it didn’t last. I went back on heroin and started taking benzos and spent the next 2 years back at it. When I was around 21 I stabilized things again and mainly bought methadone to keep me going. My son’s father died then and I went through the blackest period of my life. I used whatever I could get to keep myself numb. Fortunately my parents helped with my son and he was very young so he doesn’t remember much of it.

When I was 23 or 24 I realized something was going to give. Mentally I was all over the place and I was completely broken. I was afraid I’d either overdose or kill myself. I had made contact with a local alcohol service, mainly to get my parents off my back before. I went to them again and completely broke down and asked for help. I was in a residential detox programme within a week.

I spent 5 weeks there and hated it but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I came out drug free. I attended meetings for about a year and stayed drug free. For some reason in my head I thought I just had a problem with alcohol. After a year I went back on heroin again. After a few months I knew I couldn’t cope with addiction anymore. Within a short period I was broken, mentally, physically, spiritually.

I went back to the meetings and got drug free again. I had a group of people who attended the regular meetings who encouraged me to keep going. I’m now clean for over three years.

This has allowed me return to education and I’ve spent two years doing community care and personal development courses. I’m now with Liberties Recycling and I’m working here as a trainee support worker, which is great. I have an opportunity to work with people who have faced or are facing what I’ve been through and hopefully I can help them. For me this is a great opportunity to get a proper qualification and work full-time in the sector.

I hope to work in family support at some stage. There’s a good bit of help available for users but sometimes the family is forgotten. I know from my own experience how tough it is for family members. The change I’ve seen in my own son in the last few years has been great. He’s now allowed be a child, he doesn’t have the worries that children his age shouldn’t have.

Sean's story

I was on crack for a year and finally hit rock bottom. I had a son and finally realised I was getting in too deep and had to stop or I’d miss out on his life as well.

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  • About us

  • Liberty Recycling is a clothes recycling social enterprise and charity that provides people affected by drug and alcohol use with the stability, work experience, skills and confidence needed to move into mainstream employment, training and education, all within a supportive work environment.

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