I started using alcohol at 14 and smoking. Running away from home and not going to school. I was a confused kid and I now know it was because of my difficult relationship with my mother. I progressed to nightclubs, drinking plenty of alcohol, blacking out, and getting into many dangerous situations. Then I started taking ecstasy and speed at local raves.
I enjoyed the feeling of not feeling. I wanted more. I met the love of my life at 18 and 5 years later we had a child together and set up home. He had an affair and left me and my son when he was 6 months old and I didn’t have support. I didn’t cope emotionally or financially and went down the road of self destruction. What followed was years of unhealthy and abuse relationships with both men and substances.
From Darkness to Light
I struggled with addiction for over a decade. I lost my home, my son, my dignity, respect, self-esteem and my mind. I was a shadow of my former self who did not care if I lived or died, existing day to day. My addiction and situation took me to some very dark and dangerous places. I moved areas and even went to rehab but nothing changed. Whilst in London, I started to go to 12 step meetings when I knew my boyfriend was back in the North but I knew if anything was going to change long term, I would need to leave him, start again and change my whole life.
I eventually stopped after a long and difficult journey with many setbacks in July 2009. I said no to the relationship and entered addiction treatment. I was shown love, understanding, and compassion, not hate or judgment. I was shown recovery, not punishment.
I am forever grateful to the people who helped me. Without them I would not be here standing today.
I am not an addict, junkie, thief, immoral, a bad mother or whore. I drank to escape my reality, to numb the pain and to cope. It was the only way I knew how back then.
Today, I am an Aunty, Mother, Daughter, Partner and Sister. I have a life today. A home, a partner, a close relationship with my son. 3 gorgeous dogs who I walk daily and who give me purpose. Miracles do happen. I have a voice and a face and I want to show everyone that recovery is possible.
Changing the Narrative
I am passionate about changing the narrative that keeps our voices hidden. Women often drink to cope and self-medicate because of domestic violence, sexual abuse, homelessness, mental health and low self-esteem. We have treatment barriers such as lack of financial resources, long waiting lists, lack of women only services, needing partners permission to enter treatment. Systematic issues.
We deserve a seat at the table. Today I hold my head up high and devote the time, power and energy necessary to empower, educate and advocate.
The person struggling with addiction that you pass by who is begging on the street? They could be your mother, niece, goddaughter or your daughter. Addiction does not discriminate. We all have a role to play in helping to end the stigma and silence.
Learn more about Annalice's work with TracUK here.
TRAC UK is an independent advocacy service for men and women, founded in 2015 by Annalice Argyle as a voice for people with substance misuse issues. TRAC UK also has a women only recovery service, you can visit our facebook page here.