27 February 2017

Working Hard to Overcome Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Singer Amy Winehouse’s struggles with both alcohol and drugs were well known. Sadly, the star’s alcohol addiction ultimately resulted in her death, cutting short a blossoming career and leaving not only her family devastated but also a legion of fans. In her memory, Amy’s step-mother Jane Winehouse set up Amy’s Place, a recovery house dedicated to helping young women like Amy overcome their drug and alcohol addictions.

The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire has recently had exclusive access to Amy’s Place to meet the young women who are benefitting from the treatment on offer there.

Turnaround

One of the first residents of Amy’s Place was Grace Gunn. She said, “I’m not that long sober, but I’ve come so far. You forget that my life was sitting in a homeless hostel planning how to kill myself.”

Grace has been sober for just over a year now and is getting her life back on track. This amazing turnaround was made possible by Amy’s Place, which was set up by the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Grace said of her previous life, “It started when I had my first drink aged eight, and by 12 I was sneaking around doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. Between 13 and 14 I went into care, and that’s where it [the drinking] took off, and I could be more sneaky about it, as I didn’t have my parents around.”

Grace said that while she started drinking to cope, it was not long before her alcohol consumption became a habit. She began drinking more and more while living in a homeless hostel, but a shock warning from medical professionals helped her to realise the impact her alcohol addiction was having. She said, “It was in November 2015, when I took 57 antidepressants on a litre of vodka and a litre of liqueur and nearly died. I woke up frothing at the mouth, terrified. They were detoxing me in ‘resus’ [resuscitation area] in hospital, and they told me, ‘It’s a waiting game now to see if your organs are failing or not’. It was four days of me sitting in resus hoping and praying I wasn’t dying.”

Reaching Out for Help

It was then that Grace decided to get help for her alcohol addiction, but this was not easy as she was still living in the homeless hostel. She said, “When your room was next to somebody who is selling drugs, you can never get well in a sense. You’re always stuck in the conundrum of, ‘Do I go back to my old habits or do I go to a [support] meeting?’ I was living a life of recovery in a using and drinking world.”

Jane Winehouse admits that stories such as Grace’s were what motivated her to set up the recovery house. She said, “We met people in treatment who were scared to death of what was going to happen when they finished treatment [in rehab]. For a lot of them, all they could think about was, ‘If I have to go back to where I was before, I’m just not going to stand a chance’.”

Recovery House

Amy’s Place is the only recovery house in the UK that is targeted at women under the age of thirty struggling with addiction. The house has room for sixteen occupants at any one time, with each getting their own flat, paid for with housing benefits. Each resident can stay in the apartment for up to two years.

Residents of Amy’s Place must not use alcohol or drugs, and they are not allowed to have guests overnight. They must also agree to random drug and alcohol tests.

Another resident is Judith Heryka, who is overcoming her addiction to drugs with the help of Amy’s Place. She admits it was the thought of losing her children that motivated her to get help. When told that proceedings were beginning to take her two young kids into the adoption system, she finally found the strength to kick her habit. She admits this saved her life.

Judith has benefited from the external activities that residents are encouraged to take part in. Some do voluntary work and others re-enter education, but in Judith’s case, a passion for kickboxing has helped to keep her on the straight and narrow. She said, “I can really zone out, do something that I love.”

Feeling Safe

Judith says that she feels safe in Amy’s Place and it is the reason she has managed to stay sober. Hannah Crystal, the house manager at Amy’s Place, said, “I think the girls here are going to get to a point where they’re ready to move on. And we’ll have new arrivals, and I think we’ll keep growing from strength to strength.”

However, not everyone at Amy’s Place has found it easy to overcome their drug and alcohol addictions. Some have suffered a relapse, and even Grace admits that she came close to relapsing recently. But she said, “Before, the future looked very black, without anything I was looking forward to. Now I realise I’ve got a very long life ahead of me.”

Beating an Alcohol Addiction

Amy’s Place is just one of many treatment centres across the UK helping those affected by both drug and alcohol addiction. And while Amy’s Place is specifically designed for women under the age of thirty, here at UKAT, we treat people of all ages and gender. For more information on our treatment programmes, call today.

Source: The house changing lives in memory of Amy Winehouse (BBC)

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