Scotland’s drug-related deaths are at an all-time high. Here, one Dundee mum and gran asks people to remember that every ‘number’ is someone’s daughter or someone’s son.
Like many struggling with addiction, Mary’s* daughter began using drugs following a trauma that occurred in childhood.
The Dundee mum, 59, explains: “For 20 years my daughter has been through the stages of drug use, starting with cannabis, moving to heroin addiction and cocaine use as well.
“Though she never really stole from her family, she was quite demanding and coercive in trying to get money from them.
‘She became a different person – drugs won’
“She’s spent time in and out of jail. There have been a few good periods of recovery, but the drugs always won: They were always there to entice her back.
“She was a lovely girl, but she became a different person, someone I no longer recognised.”
As the depressing drug death stats are published today, many families across Tayside and Fife will understand what it’s like to watch a loved one battle addiction.
Mary continues: “It’s soul destroying. I feel like I’m grieving for her because I’ve been advised by health professionals to back off and let her do her own thing.
“It was just too damaging to my own mental health. I’ve been grieving for her for so long because she’s not the daughter I once knew.
“I love her to pieces, I just don’t love what she does.”
Mary did her best to support her daughter, going with her to drug support groups and looking after her grandchild, until things fell apart.
‘I did all I could to protect my grandchild’
She says: “She started off being a fantastic mum. But by the time my grandchild was six months old they were in foster care, and has now been adopted.
“I did everything I could to protect my grandchild but it got to the stage where that wasn’t possible anymore. I couldn’t be there 24/7 to look after the wee one.
“So, I had to notify social services and that broke my heart. It’s the best thing for the child but my daughter didn’t see it like that obviously.
“Because of my age I would have had to become a mum again and with my poor health, at 59, that’s not giving them the best chance in life.
“I feel like I’ve given up on my grandchild now.”
‘Picking up the pieces’
The situation impacted every aspect of Mary’s life: She had to give up her full-time job, she struggles with her mental health and even had to move house.
She continues: “I’ve not seen my daughter in more than a year. It got to the stage where she was becoming quite intimidating and aggressive towards me.
“The thought of maintaining contact with her scares me. How do I deal with that? The rest of the family has been very supportive, but how do they deal with picking up the pieces?”
Though support is available to the loved ones of those struggling with addiction, it can be hard to access and many wait a long time to receive support.
Mary explains: “I went to the Addaction [now With You] support group and I found that really useful, but when I changed my job it was harder to go.
“I’d like to set up a family group, to talk to others who are dealing with the same sort of issues.
“The group I used to go to disbanded but even then, it was more geared towards the drug user and wasn’t really family support.”
‘Think…what if it was your child’
Mary’s story is a reminder any family can be touched by the challenges of addiction.
She urges: “I want people to think ‘if it was my child, how would I deal with it?’
“What would they want done for their child instead of just labelling them, pushing them to the side and tarring them all with the same brush?
“Underneath everything there’s a person who was just like you and me. It can happen to anyone.”
*Names have been changed.
When your loved one is drinking too much or using drugs it’s easy to start saying negative things or blaming each other.
— With You (@WeAreWithYou) May 26, 2021