Drink and Drugs News DDN June 2020 - Page 12

SERVICES MOVING ON Earlier this year I spoke with Jo, a graduate from our Sheffield Residential service. We talked at length about her past, her journey towards recovery and her aspirations for the future. Central to this was the rebuilding of her relationship with her son and her own mother. Despite the adversity Jo faced in her early years, she retained a fierce desire to reclaim ownership of her life. In late 2018, Jo was serving a short prison sentence. This was not her first, but she was determined it would be her last. It was here that her journey to recovery would begin. ‘While I was in prison I didn’t engage with drugs. I reduced my methadone and was clean. I asked for help. I had to do groups on relapse prevention. I did it all. I proved myself. I thought it was best to do this somewhere where I couldn’t run away.’ After successfully detoxing and making progress during her time in prison, Jo was released in May 2019. ‘I was picked up at the gate by my worker and went straight to Phoenix in Sheffield. This was my first time in rehab. At first I intimidated people quite a lot in the way I presented myself. I was walking around like I was still on the wing, acting like I had to defend myself from everybody. But if I didn’t act in that way, I wouldn’t have known I needed to change.’ Jo reflected on her response to her behaviour being challenged by Jo took part in Phoenix Future’s Voyage of Recovery, where participants learned to sail a boat while gaining skills to support their long-term physical and mental health. Liam Ward talks to former Phoenix Futures resident Jo, about rebuilding her life and her relationship with with her son her peers, and the process she went through in being able to understand the reasoning behind this. ‘At first I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,’ she said. ‘You’re going to have your defences up, but if you listen and relate it to the work you’re doing it all fits together.’ During her time in prison and rehab, Jo had also taken the first steps in repairing her relationship with her three-year-old son. She explained the circumstances that had led to their separation. ‘I was still using heroin and crack when I was pregnant. I was still involved in crime to support my habit,’ she said. ‘Social services got involved. ‘In late 2018, Jo was serving a short prison sentence. This was not her first, but she was determined it would be her last. It was here that her journey to recovery would begin.’ They gave me every opportunity. I saw a judge every two weeks, had appointments to see how I was doing, and they tried getting me on a methadone script. I suppose I had gone through so much trauma that it didn’t go that way.’ Arrangements were made for Jo’s son to be cared for by his grandmother. ‘A month before he was born, I signed a document to say my mum could look after him on a special guardianship order. He went as soon as he was born…’ Jo paused. ‘My son wasn’t my first thought, it was myself and my habit. When you’re on drugs you don’t care about anyone but yourself, you’re so selfish.’ I asked Jo what had changed, and when she felt as though she had become his mother again. ‘Where it started properly was when I left rehab. Learning what he likes to eat, what he likes to play with, going out to parks, taking him to nursery.’ Jo left rehab in November 2019, moving on to Phoenix Futures’ supported housing. In the following months she saw her son more frequently and began making plans around her future. This was interrupted in March 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak saw lockdown measures imposed. Despite this, Jo has retained an optimistic outlook and feels her pathway from prison into a structured therapeutic community and finally into supported housing has prepared her well for living a life with a certain set of restrictions for her own wellbeing. ‘I’m finding it easier than most people are. I suppose coming from prison then going to Phoenix, it feels like a carry on. You’ve got to be peaceful and grateful for where you are today. It’s a massive transformation for me.’ I asked Jo if this had affected her future plans. ‘I’m backwards and forwards in my mind. I don’t want to rush into anything. Some days I feel like I’m ready to move out of here and have my son come live with me. It’s good to have a chance to slow down and reflect,’ Jo continued. ‘Every day I’m still in recovery. Every day I’m still learning about myself.’ Liam Ward is residential marketing manager at Phoenix Futures. To read Jo’s full story visit www.phoenix-futures.org.uk 12 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JUNE 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM