At just 34-years old, Lisa Diduca has lived through more trauma than most will face in a lifetime.
Sexually abused from the age of three, she grew up to face heroin addiction, prostitution, seven terms in jail, the death of her beloved younger brother and losing her unborn grandchild.
Now however, Lisa, from Dundee, is looking forward to a bright new future having finally defeated the demons, including her addiction, that have followed her throughout her life.
‘I sunk to the lowest anyone can’
Speaking at home with her 15-month-old son, Jaice, Lisa said she was feeling positive and ready for the next chapter of her life, drug free.
Lisa said: “So much has happened to me and I have sunk to the lowest anyone can but I woke up one day recently and decided I wasn’t doing this any more, I’m not going to lead this life any more.
“In the past three years I’ve lost my mum, my gran and my two younger brothers.
“The death of my baby brother, Gordon Diduca, floored me and then my other younger brother died from an asthma attack.
“I suddenly realised it was time for me to measure up and be a good mother to my family.
“I have six kids and I want to be a good mum – I never want Jaice to have to see the bad things.
“I want to do things to make them proud of me and I want to be proud of myself.”
Lisa was on a methadone recovery programme when she was pregnant with Jaice.
Her determination to beat her addiction was strengthened when he was born in January 2020, suffering withdrawal symptoms from the methadone she had been taking while carrying him.
Lisa said: “That was awful to think I had caused this to happen to my baby.
“I felt so guilty that this was my fault.
“He had to spend four weeks in hospital before I could take him home.”
Lisa’s brother Gordon was killed in a knife and crossbow attack in September 2017.
As well as losing another brother, her mum and gran, Lisa’s daughter’s unborn baby died just four days before her due date.
She said she spiralled out of control, regularly taking drugs and shoplifting.
“I’ve done some dreadful things and I have been jailed for them,” she said.
“I’ve been in prison for assault, shoplifting, robbery and breaching bail among other things but I’m not going to be that person any more.”
Lisa has reduced her methadone intake to 15 millilitres a day, after being reliant on a daily dose of 60mls for many years.
Soon she hopes to be off it completely.
“I have been on methadone for nine years but I’ve finally found the courage to get off it,” she said.
“It hasn’t been easy and there are have been blips in the road.
“I’ve experienced all the side effects, sweating, shaking, not able to sleep, but very soon I’m not going to be on any medication at all and that’s a great feeling.”
“I want to do so many things – I have never really lived life.
“I want to go on holiday, I want to drive a car, I want a career and I want to help and support others who are going through the things I’ve gone through.”
Lisa said that she has been accepted to do a course at college and hopes to train to become a woman’s support worker.
She said: “I’ve lived that life and I know what it’s like so I’m well placed to listen to and understand others going through the same stuff I have.”
A new beginning
She said: “A sheriff once told me I was a menace to society when he was jailing me – I don’t want to be that person any more.
“I deserve a new beginning. I know I am worth it and I believe have a lot to offer.
“The journey so far has been very difficult but this is the start of my new, much better journey and I’m going to do it, absolutely no doubt.”
Lisa advised anyone struggling with addiction to keep trying to come off drugs.
“I would say to anyone else trying to come off drugs is to just keep going, you can do it,” she said.
“It’s not always going to be easy but it will be worth it in the end.
“I’ve got here and others can do. It can be very scary and I was scared but I just realised I had to do it for myself and my family and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
“I am going to make this work.”