Stories of HOPE in 2015

“I come from the North Inner City, and had been addicted all my life.  I come from a dysfunctional family.  My father was a docker and an alcoholic, and my mother a street trader. I’d be sent down to him on a Thursday to get his wages, or the money would be drunk. Times were hard and my mother struggled to put food on table, so I went out robbing and I loved it.  I didn’t like school, and ran with all the older people. My first experience with drugs came after my best friend fell through a hole in the roof catching pigeons, and my family blamed me, said I murdered him. I found his body, and was given an injection and sent to live with my Grandmother who lived in the old diamond. I could do whatever I wanted, and I was a street devil and a house angel. She sent me up one day to collect her valium, and I started taking them. I could face things then, and at 14 I got introduced to heroin. I skin popped it, got sick, and said never again – but it took my worries away.  I eventually got strung out, and didn’t stop for 20 years.  I was in and out of prison all the time. I loved prison – three meals a day, no bills.  I’ve a conviction for everything, all kinds of crimes, and some very serious charges.  One time when I was locked up, I was taken down to a methadone clinic and offered a maintenance.  I thought “great free drugs!” I didn’t think 20 years later I would still be on it, but I was. I disagree with maintenance, I think it should be a three month detox max.  I lost my oldest brother through methadone, and my youngest through heroin, and my mother through cancer.  Today I feel this, my feelings aren’t numb any more, and I realise how I wasted so much of my time.  It was a miserable life on drugs.

I got introduced to HOPE, and became willing to follow the suggestions – and I am coming up on 5 years clean.  HOPE has helped me since over the years, with housing, legal, and financial issues.  They helped me with basic things that were hard for me, like getting a passport and a bank account.  I call into HOPE about once a week for chat.  I do NA meetings in this community, I pray and mediate, and I give back to the community and volunteer.  I love the life I have today, I look after my health, and I just got back from an amazing holiday, and I have learned to laugh.  I have members of my family still on drugs, and I visit my brothers in prison on a weekly basis – the staff there has been amazed by me and I am an inspiration – most people never thought I would never make it.

Today I can function and I am happy, and I am not closed minded liked I was.  If I can get clean, anybody can—but you got to put the work in.  At least 15 people I sent down to HOPE are clean now.  If you are reading this, give yourself a chance.”

Stories of HOPE in 2014

“I took drugs when I was 13 or maybe younger. Drugs helped me fit in with my friends and have confidence, I felt alone and scared and didn’t feel a part of my family. I always wanted to live in someone else’s house. My father was an alcoholic and we lived in the flats. I was the second youngest of my family, the only girl. From a young age I suffered physical, mental, and emotional abuse. I went through a lot with my father, I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings. I felt like nobody cared or would listen to me. I kept a lot in and blocked a lot out with drugs and running all the time. Drugs made me feel good and numbed the feelings. I have lost so much because of my drug use such as time with my son, jobs, relationships, homes, and nearly lost my life. I lost the ability to grieve for my son’s father who died from addiction. I missed out on relationships with my brothers, my mother, niece and nephew and I lost all my self-worth, self-respect, and confidence. Some of the drugs I have used over the years were alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, weed, snow blow and tablets. These brought me to terrible mental states on many occasions and some suicide attempts. I just wanted the pain to go away so I could live! Over the past few years I had thoughts of stopping drugs, but I didn’t know how to stay stopped. My low self-esteem and pride led me to believe that treatment was for people on heroin and phy (methadone), not for people like me. I didn’t want people to think I was a “Junkie” as people call addicts. My mother tried for many years to help me, with my son, with money for apartments which I abused.

Every home I had was about having parties and not giving caring about anyone just once I had somewhere to use my drugs with so-called friends, somewhere to sleep all day without someone disturbing me. By the end of my using I lost everyone around me. I ended up living in a woman’s refuge for a little while, I was losing my mind. I was paranoid, I didn’t want to come out the door. I thought people were jumping out of cars to get me and they would only be parking. So I isolated, I couldn’t deal with my life anymore, I never thought I could change, I couldn’t see a way out. I was losing the will to live.

I first went into the H.O.P.E. project for help in 2012, my mother suggested it because they had helped my brother. I stayed clean for a while, then I relapsed and avoided the project for a while. I hit a bottom and returned to H.O.P.E. in 2013. This time I was ready to put in the work. H.O.P.E. said that the door never closes, and they once again did out a care plan and offered support, and I have gone from strength to strength.

H.O.P.E. encouraged me to go to 12 step meetings, and did a referral for me for the Gateway project. They helped me apply for several colleges, and I was accepted into a barbering college, which I am now in. H.O.P.E. helped me get funding through the Annie Kelly Bursary. The next issue was housing, and they helped me access rent allowance, the RAS scheme, and then one day I received the keys to my new flat for me and my son, and I was delighted. I also through H.O.P.E. attended Soilse, and the Strengthening Families programme. I went on a group trip with staff from H.O.P.E. and members of the community to Lourdes. When H.O.P.E. organised the community concert, they got me to push past my fear and get up and sing in front of hundreds. I have now been clean for 16 months. I stop in on a regular basis for tea and a chat, and see John Hickey counselling.

H.O.P.E. gave me the opportunity to volunteer and give back to my community. I have participated now for the last few years in their mini marathon, bag packing days, and as Santy’s elf! I also come in and have chats with addicts looking for recovery to give them some HOPE.”

Stories of HOPE in 2013

“I first took drugs when I was about 14, at first it was to fit in with my friends. Before I took drugs I felt sad lonely scared and empty. My parents were alcoholics, we lived in the flats. I was the oldest child and from a young age I suffered physical, mental and emotional abuse and then sexual abuse from my father. I went through many traumas, one example is them leaving my 3 month old baby brother in my care while they were out when I was 11, he died of cot death and my dad blamed me. The drugs made me feel good and numbed the feelings. Over the years I have lost so much because of my drug use such as time with daughter, I never got to do the things I wanted to do with her. I lost jobs, relationships, and nearly lost my life. I lost the ability to grieve for my sister who died from her addiction. I missed out on relationships with brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and I lost all myself worth and confidence.

Some of the drugs I used over the years were alcohol, LSD, ecstasy, tablets, cocaine, and snow blow. These brought me to terrible mental states on many occasion, and I had numerous suicide attempts. I was in a psychiatric ward a few times. Over the years I had thoughts of stopping drugs, but my low self-esteem led me to believe that treatment was for the rich, not for people like me. I had no family support or encouragement. The one positive thing in my life that I still have is a partner of 20 years and an 18 year old daughter. For some reason they stayed with me. This on one hand helped me have a bit of stability in my life, but on the other hand I put them through a lot.

I first came into contact with Irene from HOPE in 2003, and I knew Joe all my life. When I would meet them they would encourage me to come in and get help, and I made a few attempts but would never follow up on anything. In June 2012 I came back in and did a 17 day detox. HOPE organised for me to get brought to 12 step meetings, relaxation sessions at the Sanctuary and with HOPE’s holistic therapist. They put a care plan in place for me, but I wasn’t feeling confident and didn’t follow it. I went back using for the next 8 months, which were like hell. I was doing a lot of snow blow, and mentally was in very bad shape.

I got a telephone call from HOPE in February 2013 when I was really on the bottom. They talked me into coming back down, and even came and collected me. That was a new beginning. I had one slip but was supported and encouraged and kept coming back. When I went into HOPE I felt like they cared, and I could trust them. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. This time I stuck to the care plan. I went to meetings, holistic therapies, came into HOPE on a regular basis for one to ones and care planning. HOPE also organised for some sessions with myself and my partner, which helped me. They did a referral for me to High Park residential treatment centre, and I went there for 5 weeks. Being there and just working on myself was a great help, and strengthened me. HOPE then did a referral for me to the Soilse day programme which I was on for six months. In Soilse I learned a lot about myself, to isolate less, open up, and share. I also took many FETAC accredited courses, and realised that I could do things with my life. Since finishing Soilse at Christmas, I have stayed working with a counsellor and going to my 12 step meetings and linking in with HOPE. Today HOPE got me a job! I start Tuesday catering, it’s the first time I have worked in many years and I am very excited. I am also working with HOPE around going back to college in September.

I would recommend HOPE to anyone, they helped me get a life I never thought was possible. Today I am 11 months drug and alcohol free, and I am able to have a relationship with my daughter and partner and they have their peace of mind back. I feel so much more confident, and that life is full of possibilities.”

Stories of HOPE in 2012

“We will call him Steven G. (after his favourite footballer!). He is 29 years old. Here is his story in his own words:

“I was lost before I came in to H.O.P.E. I thought life just revolved around drugs. I didn’t know there was a way out. I was taking cocaine and tablets on a regular basis.   I also used alcohol, ketamine, methadone, snow-blow, whatever I could get. I started drinking alcohol when I was 16, and starting getting into drugs heavy when I was 20. I lost my job on a building site, and got kicked out of home a few times. I didn’t realise what I was putting my family through, their worry and embarrassment. The closest I came to dying was when I got a meat cleaver in the head when I was drunk and got brain damaged. I spent 6 months in hospital. I had to learn to walk and talk again. When I got out of hospital the first thing I did was go get drugs.

My father then got into the pub business and that was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I thought everyone was my friend, because I could get free drink and drugs. I had a baby, and left the girl over drugs. Then my family left the pub, and I found myself with no money, no job, and no friends. Things got worse and worse. I really hit a bottom when I started robbing my family. I lost all my self-respect. This dragged on for 2 more horrible years, I did not see my baby, talk to anyone, or look after or clean myself. I ended up locked in my bedroom in darkness on my own, talking to myself. I then tried to hang myself. My brother came into the room and cut me down.

A few days later, for the first time, I went to my family and said I needed help. It was St. Stephen’s Day, and H.O.P.E. was closed. My mother rang Joe Dowling, and he met me at the office on December 27th. That was my first day clean, and I haven’t used anything since.   So the workers in H.O.P.E. put a care plan around me right away, and we built up a relationship.

  • I came into H.O.P.E. every day
  • I started going to NA meetings as suggested
  • O.P.E. referred me to the Oasis Counselling Centre, where I went every Tuesday for one to one counselling
  • The Advocacy worker Alison helped me find a fitness instructor course with the Football Association
  • Recommended me for the Annie Kelly Bursary, which I received for the course
  • I got really into the football and health and fitness, and I was then picked to represent Ireland in the Homeless World Cup. I went to Mexico in July for that, and the staff of H.O.P.E. helped with raising funds and writing letters on my behalf

So today I am 13 months clean. I still come into H.O.P.E. Regular and go to NA and my counselling. I sometimes help out in H.O.P.E. by talking to and taking a client to a meeting. I will finish my course in May, and I look forward to working in health and fitness. I re-established contact with my son’s mother, and now see my son every day. Life is good.

H.O.P.E. is a really good project. The staff have great relationships with people and will help you with anything. My advice to anyone who has a problem, is don’t be afraid to ask for help – open your mouth – it can all get better.”

Stories of HOPE in 2011

We will call her Amy.  She is 22 years old and had been on drugs since the age of 14. She lives in this community and her father was a long term drug user who was engaged with services in this community.  He was well known to our senior project worker and he helped get him into a stabilisation day programme and access to medical care and support. He eventually died of AIDS but not before meeting up with the senior project worker and asking him to promise he would look after his daughter, who had started using drugs.

Amy engaged with our service in September 2010. She was on a cocktail of head shop drugs, drinking, and taking cocaine. She had several suicide attempts and was suffering with depression. She was under threat of her 3 year old daughter being taken into care. She was living in an inner city flat complex and felt it was an unsafe environment. She was single and felt very alone. She was engaged with a HSE social worker, and a doctor, but did not feel she was getting the help she needed.

She was made very welcome in HOPE. She was given the option of our community detox programme.  We suggested that if she was willing to do her bit and follow the plan laid out for her to become drug free, then we would do everything in our power to help her.  To this end, over the last year she has come into the project on a regular basis. The key worker assigned to her case has had a total of 46 visits with this client since September 2010. These include coming into our service on a regular basis, as well as phone contact. He has attended four case conferences with the social work team regarding keeping her child.  He met with her GP, visited her after a suicide attempt and linked in with the psychiatric services in St. James’s Hospital.  He met with social services in Rotunda Hospital and visited her there after she had her second child. He linked in with the Gateway project, as well as meeting with Amy’s granny, partner, and mother on several occasions, and staying in regular contact with them.

The following results have been achieved thus far:

  • HOPE developed a relationship with her (she phoned us when she was in labour!)
  • She slowly came down off of all substances and is now 11 months drug and alcohol free.
  • Through negotiations with social workers her child went into the care of her granny until she was drug free. This was best for all concerned.
  • We referred her and she was accepted on to Gateway (currently on maternity leave).
  • She got into a healthy relationship with a partner who has never been a drug user and is supportive and engaged with our service.
  • We helped her get financial aid for last Christmas.
  • We are working in conjunction with the Dublin City Council on her moving out of the flat complex.
  • She gave birth at the end of November to a healthy baby girl.
  • She regularly attends 12 step meetings.
  • We organised for her a number of holistic treatments at the Sanctuary
  • We referred her to Oasis counselling service where she is engaged in suicide prevention and personal counselling.