A desperate Dundee mum who became a secret heroin addict aged 30 has hailed a lifeline charity for transforming her life.
The woman began taking drugs to cope when her two children’s disruptive behaviour started causing problems at school.
It took several years for her son and his young sister to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and, in the meantime, she had plunged into addiction.
Eight years on and winning her battle against drugs, she said: “It seems crazy looking back, a woman of my age starting to take heroin.
“At the time, though, it felt like an escape from everything that was going on.
“I knew my son wasn’t just behaving badly.
“I knew there was something else going on from when he was wee but but I just couldn’t get him help. I was going up the wall.
“Then my sister died and my grandparents died and I just reached the end of my rope.
“Where I lived there were dealers everywhere and I just started taking it. I felt like I was banging my head off the wall trying to get help for my kids. I felt like I was drowning.
“I was struggling to manage my kids but I never neglected them. They were always washed and dressed and off to school but, in the space of a few months, without anyone knowing, I became a heroin addict.
“I started going downhill, getting faster all the time.”
The mum, from Dundee, hailed the medical experts at the city’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) who finally diagnosed her children with ADHD and prescribed the medication that stabilised their behaviour and transformed their lives.
She also praised children’s charity Aberlour for their outreach service, partly supported by a recent £100,000 donation from KFC, for providing vital help to parents and children affected by drink and drugs.
Their team helped her children at school, explaining what ADHD is and how to live with it, and supported her at home as she fought to get clean of drugs.
“I moved out of where I was and back with my mum,” she said.
“I got off heroin but only by getting addicted to diazepam. Finally, finally, I got myself on the straight and narrow but my kids had still not been diagnosed.
“I was terrified they were going to be forced to leave school and would never get back into mainstream education.
“But when they were diagnosed with ADHD, it seemed everything started fitting into place.
“It felt that people’s attitude changed almost overnight and it feels like they changed overnight. They’re doing great now.
“The school had told me they couldn’t handle my son and that he’d never make it to secondary. They were really frustrated with his behaviour but then suddenly they released he needed help.
“CAMHS have been so much help in getting my kids the diagnosis and treatment they need. I remember crying and begging with the school to give my daughter a chance but, since she’s been on her medication, it’s like night and day. She’s a different wee person.
“Aberlour have been great with her. She has a befriender, a student who sees her every week for one to one support.
“It helps her but helps me too. Because of the stress and the drugs, I had isolated myself, cut myself off from everyone.
“Just knowing they were there for me, to call on, like a friend, made a huge difference.
“I could talk to them and ask for advice on things that I would find difficult to talk to anyone else about.
“They encourage me to lead a normal life again and help me take small steps.
“They’re only small steps but every one is taking me back to a normal life.”