Nadia Essalhi is one of 23 people graduating from our programme tomorrow, Tuesday February 26th. Nadia arrived at Ashleigh House on February 28th 2018 completely broken and not letting herself hope she could break her addiction. Now, as she prepares to graduate, she has a whole new life – she’s currently doing a Level Five course in Addiction Studies, is employed on the LINKS Community Drug Task Force and has joined a dance crew in the city centre. She has rediscovered her passion for performance, writing and performing music and hoping to attend a vocal coach in the future.
Currently living in community housing, Nadia recently discovered that she is at the top of the council housing list and will soon have a home with her children.
What part of the Coolmine recovery programme challenged you the most?
Initially it was the realisation that drugs weren’t my problem, not really. They were just the result of years of trauma. And things that weren’t ok. In 2011 I started using heroin to cope with the pain of my brother’s death. I told myself that I needed it to cope. To numb everything. I was addicted to drug for certain reasons and, I think, realising that and realising that I would have to actually work on those issues was a big moment for me.
It meant that I had to start talking about my issues, instead of continuing to run away from them. I got so much healing out of that, even though it was so tough to go through the process. Those around me were pulling me up on behaviours I was showing that were standing in the way of recovery. And that was tough.
And only looking back now, with what I’ve learned and what I’m continuing to learn both about myself and addiction, I can understand why the staff got me to do certain things. Why they made me face certain truths. The more I learn, the more I look back and finally understand.
How are you different from the person who arrived at Coolmine?
I’m a completely different person. The main difference is that I’m someone who believes in herself now. When I arrived at Coolmine all I thought over and over was “I’m an addict, I’m no good. I’m never going to do good.” And now I see how much I have to give.
I’m a better mother now too.
And I’ve gone back to the Nadia I am, without drugs. Back when I was using drugs, all I knew was lying and stealing. Lying is not in my nature usually so I’ve been given back a life free from that. It feels like I’ve been born again.
How do you feel as you prepare to graduate from the programme?
I’m excited. And I’m proud. Last week the nine of us in my after-care programme had our final session and it was very emotional. It’s almost overwhelming for me to look back and see where I’ve come from, and where I am today.
There were times when I truly didn’t see how I could make it to where I am today. And I sometimes still can’t believe that I’m here.
What are your hopes for the future?
I want to continue my studies and, eventually, work with those affected by addiction. I want to give back what was given to me. The new life. The second chance. �