“Coolmine was the end of a downward spiral for me. People talk about all the things you can hypothetically lose due to addiction – but you don’t really believe it’ll happen to you.
“Before I came to Coolmine, first I lost my job due to my addiction. Then, very soon after, my partner left me, taking our baby son with him. This meant that I also lost the home we had shared, as I was unable to pay rent on my own.
“I went from being a working mother living with my partner and baby, to being single, homeless, jobless and without custody of my son, in a frighteningly short space of time. I was also living far away from family and friends, so I was completely isolated.
“From then I had no real home for the next couple of years, and I was in and out of treatment centres and psychiatric hospitals, sometimes staying with friends (who were also in addiction) or in homeless hostels in between. Any time I was discharged from a treatment program, I was out completely on my own with nowhere to sleep and no structure to fill my days, and I relapsed immediately every time.
“When I went to bed at night, I absolutely didn’t care if I woke up in the morning. I’d already lost everything I cared about, and it seemed impossible that anything would ever change for me.
“As I’d been to so many other treatment centres, I thought I knew what to expect, but Coolmine was a little bit different. Instead of staff showing me around the building on my first day, and telling me about the rules and procedures, it was other clients welcoming me, who were just a little bit ahead of me in their journey. I found this really inspirational – I recognised myself in these women, and wondered was it really possible that I could become as strong and confident and assertive as they were, if I just stuck this out.
“The early weeks were certainly a struggle, but I was really “minded” by more senior peer in those first few weeks. The other women were always checking in with me, and while I was often anxious and overwhelmed, I was never left to go through it on my own.
“It’s been five years since I entered Coolmine. At that time, I was homeless and unemployed. I had extremely limited access with my toddler son, and whatever access we did have had to be supervised. My son’s father wouldn’t speak to me, nor would most of my family or friends. My mental health was in absolute shreds.
“Five years later, my son’s father and I share custody, with my son spending plenty of time with each of us. My son is happy and healthy, and his father and I are able to make all parenting decisions together, with our son’s welfare as our priority.
“Coolmine helped me find suitable housing after I left the residential part of the programme – after a few months in supported housing, I found a place of my own to rent, where my son and I are still living today.
“After leaving Ashleigh House, I wasn’t ready to return to full-time employment straight away, so I started off working on a Community Employment Scheme with Coolmine, to build up my confidence again. I am now back working in Finance – I have a job that I love, in a great company and with a really wonderful team of people. I’m also studying for further professional qualifications, to help me progress in my career.
“The above is all Recovery Capital – a concept I’d heard mentioned in the past. But what’s different about Coolmine is that they actually give clients real practical assistance with building the supports and assets that are needed to maintain recovery.
“Every single day I am so happy and grateful that I’m a productive member of society again. It’s something many people take for granted, until you’ve lost it all.
“Looking back to five years ago, I wish I had known that life in recovery could be as good and as rewarding as it is! As I was so dependent on substances to get me through every minute of every day, when I visualised life without it, everything seemed so miserable and overwhelming. The reality is, I wake up every morning full of happiness and gratitude for the day ahead of me. Of course, I face struggles and challenges, all of the time, but it’s all so manageable with substances out of the picture.
“For anyone considering looking for help in overcoming their addiction, my advice would be that – yes it will be difficult, and yes it will take time, and you’ll find yourself discovering inner strength and resources you never imagined you were capable of – and it will be worth every minute.
“Addiction tricks you into thinking life is unmanageable without your substance, the truth is that EVERY challenge is manageable once you’re free of the slavery of addiction. Addiction tells you you’re a worthless human being and you don’t deserve recovery – the truth is that, when your addiction is stripped away, you’ll find that deep down you’re a good person, you always were, and you and your loved ones deserve you at your best.”