Cocaine Anonymous member: “I had to smack rock bottom to start my recovery”

TWO years ago she’d have spent her Sunday afternoons with the curtains closed, tv on mute and her hoody pulled up tight over her head – paranoid that police were circling her street.

But now, tea and homemade cake fill that void – after 17 years addicted to drink and drugs she’s finally got her tastebuds back.

“Grateful,” is how Jennifer (not her real name) describes how she’s feeling. She has the calm composure of someone who has been to hell and back and knows that they are lucky to be alive.

She’s regained her health, has  a good job and is inspiring other recovering addicts at Cocaine Anonymous but the biggest thing she’s lost stares back at her everyday from the wall of her cosy living room – her little boy who she had to give up for adoption.

Her drinking started at 13. “I was not confident, I was a frightened little girl but when I drank I could hold down a conversation and I could pretend to be the person I wanted to be. My grades really suffered, I sometimes skipped school and I smoked my first joint when I was 17.

“I loved it because it changed the way I felt, I was like two different people and I convinced myself that the ‘using’ me was the real me.”

Her drug addiction spiralled and she started taking pills and cocaine – whilst still drinking – which she freely admits made her selfish and manipulative as well as physically taking their toll.

“I was stick thin and gaunt, I had no time for food, but I thought I was really healthy and beautiful,” she said with a wry smile.

When she ended up with a drug dealing boyfriend the outlook was bleak. “I knew how to be devious and manipulate people and he did too. We were both violent – it was an unbelievably unhealthy relationship.”

“The alarm was raised by my baby’s nursery. I was a mess and they noticed that he wasn’t wearing clean clothes and social services got involved. Then he was taken off me.”

Jennifer, who is now in her thirties, went on a six-month self-confessed ‘bender’ until sitting in front of a judge one fateful day, she decided to turn her life around.

“I’d alway thought that, ultimately, what happened to my son would be down to me but here was a judge telling me that if I hadn’t changed in three months he could be adopted. It was the slap in the face I needed.”

Waiting at a bus stop following the hearing with a joint in hand, she stubbed it out, and told her boyfriend it was over. For ever.

“When someone reaches that point the only way is up. I handed myself into a treatment centre and received counselling which were both fantastic. From that day I haven’t touch alcohol or drugs.
Until that point it had all been somebody else’s fault. Change is scary but taking responsibility for myself was very humbling.”

Cocaine Anonymous offers freedom from cocaine and other drugs

Meetings are held across the region – for more details and venue information call 0300-1112285 (from mobiles) 0800-6120225 (free from UK landlines), visit or email

  • Monday  Middlesbrough 7pm – 8.30pm / Gateshead 7.30pm – 8.45pm
  • Tuesday  Peterlee 7.30pm – 9pm
  • Wednesday South Shields 7pm – 8.15pm
  • Thursday Durham 1pm – 2pm / Stockton 7.30pm – 8.30pm / Leeds 7.30pm -9pm
  • Saturday Redcar 6pm – 7.30pm
  • Sunday Scarborough 10.30am – 11.30am

Although it was her desicion to have him placed in care, Jennifer said she never agreed with adoption but following a lengthy court battle a court ultimately decided to grant an adoption order.

“I had to smack rock bottom to start my recovery, it was either carry on and die or get help, there was no other option for me. I had nothing else to lose.”

Her first Cocaine Anonymous meeting in the North-East almost two years ago was a night she will always remember. When it got to her turn she said her name and that she was an addict but, deep down, she was still in denial.

“At first thought I was normal and everyone else wasn’t, but it was the first time I’ve walked into a room and felt like I belonged. And I soon realised that I was exactly the same as everyone else – we might all have different stories to tell, but we’re all addicts,” she explained.

Jennifer chose a ‘sponsor’ – a female fellow Cocaine Anonymous member who has already been through the recovery steps on the programme and is there for advice, words of wisdom, to pick her up when she’s down and champion every achievement she makes – big and small.

“I remember when I nervously spoke to her for the first time she said she would be ‘honoured’ to be my sponsor and that’s exactly how I feel when a woman asks if I’ll be hers.
“I am content now, but I know I had to go through all that hell to get to this stage. I have trampled over the lives of all the people I came into contact with.

“We are not bad people – we are sick people trying to get well. I can’t change what’s happened but what keeps me well now is helping other people.”

“I get a thrill now from the little things in life, being able to afford food shopping and paying bills. I was ecstatic when I paid my tv licence for the first time.”

She added: “I look forward to going to Cocaine Anonymous meetings, no one judges you and it’s like a little family – I like being in their company. Finally I feel that I can be myself.”


To seek help and for more details visit: