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Glasgow City Council

Freedom From Addiction - Helping Broken People Heal

Published 19/7/19

Megan - POP worker Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

The sudden death of her dad, sparked 21 chaotic years of addiction and crime for Megan.

But a life-threatening blood clot eventually forced her to accept help. Finally free of drugs, she is employed in Glasgow to help others transform their lives.

Aged just 11 and unable to cope with her grief after the death of her dad in the 1990s, Megan sought solace in alcohol, became violent and was excluded from school.

Hanging out with older people, she progressed to using drugs and eventually began shoplifting daily to feed her heroin, temazepam and diazepam habit. Racking up over 90 criminal convictions throughout the years, she was repeatedly in and out of jail and hospitals.

Disdain for authority, including social workers, health staff and the police, meant she constantly rejected help.

Megan said: "After my dad's death, I was angry at the world. I was a tornado going through life. I wouldn't listen to anyone. I put on a tough front and built a wall around myself. I'd witnessed a lot of violence at a young age and thought I could do whatever I wanted. I got a reputation for violence and was involved in shoplifting, fraud and reset."

Moving to Glasgow, Megan lived in hostels and in 1999, aged 18, she became pregnant with her daughter who was looked after by her grandmother as Megan's chaotic lifestyle continued.

In 2011, she became pregnant again with her son and managed to quit drugs for two years but, later relapsed and his gran stepped in as his main carer too.

BLOOD CLOT

Eventually, in 2015, a blood clot in Megan's leg caused by drug injecting, finally made her accept her own mortality.

She said: "When I got the blood clot, I felt I was going to die. I spent nine weeks in hospital. I was broken spiritually, mentally and physically. I'd lived my whole life in the past. I couldn't move on from my dad's death. I'd internalised my trauma and used drugs to make me feel numb."

On leaving hospital she was given the blood-thinning drug Warfarin and warned she could bleed to death if she injected. Terrified, she finally accepted the help on offer.

The city's addiction team referred her to Turning Points' 218 Project, where she spent six months receiving counselling and detox treatment. She was the first person to trial reintegration into the community - leaving rehab on day visits to Glasgow's network of Recovery Cafes and the city's Tomorrow's Women project. After two years as a service user she became a service provider working with Tomorrow's Women.

Megan said: "There were workers with lived experience there. They taught me there was a way out. My mind-set changed. It was get better or die. I started working through my trauma with mental health workers and learning how to deal with it. I slowly began to build hope, confidence and self-belief."

Aged 33, she finally stopped using drugs and began to volunteer at Glasgow's Recovery Cafes, spending up to 40 unpaid hours a week supporting others on the route to recovery. She was a local volunteer, then a lead volunteer and progressed to Vice Chair of Recovery Cafes used by more than 40 service users.

EMPLOYED TO HELP OTHERS

Megan, who was previously excluded from school, began training towards qualifications and gained an SVQ3 in health and social care.

In 2018, she earned her first paid job with Children First - working with families affected by addiction. Then in 2019, Megan became one of six people with lived experience employed by Glasgow's Health & Social Care Partnership.

Now 37-years-old, the Recovery Co-ordinator is funded to work with Aid & Abet and Glasgow's Positive Outcomes Project (POP) - working with people with complex needs, drug and alcohol dependency.

She works alongside social workers and police officers at POP - convincing people charged with crimes related to addiction to change their lives for the better.

Megan said: "People can often find it easier to speak to me than an authority figure. I get it, I understand that it's tough out there. I share my own experience and have empathy and compassion for people. When people see me doing well, they realise they can get better too -  it is possible.

"I go into prisons and custody cells at courts and link people into support services for trauma, addiction and mental health issues. I convince people with warrants out against them to hand themselves into police stations and get help.

"The aim is to help people into recovery and break the cycle of reoffending. I walk with them, until they can walk themselves. You need someone to believe in you, when you don't believe in yourself."

Now a proud grandmother and recently engaged, mum-of-two, Megan uses her wages to treat her family, go to the gym and fund her first foreign holidays.

She, said: "My whole life, I felt less than everyone else. Now I know my worth. I'm a productive member of society. I pay my bills and taxes and I'm a positive role model for my children. I help broken people get better and I'm proud of what I've achieved. If I can do it - other people can too."

Published 19/7/19

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