It’s hard to say when I really started drinking because at the age of 16 and 17 everyone was doing it. I guess I’d be 18 when I first started going that extra mile and needed to get in more of a state than everyone else. Then I’d carry it on. When people were calming down on a Monday, I wouldn’t, and it just progressed from there. I’d go through stages of being sober but then I’d start trying different things because I never truly felt comfortable in my own skin. I was always trying to escape my own head, and that’s literally what it was. It didn’t matter if it was alcohol or something else, I was fighting a constant battle with myself because I felt like I didn’t fit in, and it became a vicious circle.

I drank excessively, and dependently, for about 10 years. When I fell pregnant, I was sober briefly through my pregnancy and did a detox. But it wasn’t particularly intense, and I didn’t go to rehab afterwards as had been suggested, so I quickly found myself back at square one.

I went into supported accommodation for a while and that’s when things seemed to get worse. Because of the isolation in my accommodation – I wasn’t allowed any friends from outside or anything like that – it was just me and my son. I made a friend in there, who was a heavy drinker and user, and that just made it acceptable for us both to do that with each other so, instead of getting better, it just got worse. In the end, I was drinking stuff I wouldn’t have dreamt of – the cheapest, most horrible cider, and about six litres of it per day. On some days, when I was feeling that way out, there would be spirits mixed in too. It was absolutely horrendous. I didn’t want to drink, but I had to drink.

I tried another detox but that didn’t work either, and that’s when I hit rock bottom. I got arrested when I was in charge of my son. I was highly intoxicated and unfit to look after him so he was taken into temporary foster care, and it was decided he couldn’t be returned to me until I got myself sorted out.

That was such a shock, I knew I had to do something, so I decided there and then I didn’t want drink. After several failed attempts, I ended up doing a seven-week detox through Libriam, which sorted out my physical dependency. But that wasn’t the main problem. The real issue was me, and what was in my head in terms of the mental addiction, and the cravings.

I was then pointed in the direction of Lune Street, and THOMAS. It was a total abstinence course and very structured, in that it was Monday to Friday 9 to 5. At first I found it really hard and wanted to get into any other group but that one because I was thinking I just can’t do it. But then I thought, ‘No, I really want this so I’ll give it a shot’. The fact the facilitator, Kev, had actually been there and done it, rather than reading from a text book, meant I instantly had respect for him and that helped me get focused on the course. After that I knuckled down and I can’t believe what I actually achieved in those 12 weeks. I needed to change how I was thinking, and that’s what THOMAS has done for me. Now I feel like a completely different person and, best of all, my son’s living with me again.

It’s a million miles away from where I was six months ago. Then I was in a mess, feeling so poorly that I felt I had to drink, but it was the drink that was making me poorly. I’d be shaking when I got up at six in the morning and I needed to have a pint of cider to function. Now the thought of that makes me feel sick. But that was my life – and I had a small child in tow as well. He’d be watching me being sick and wondering what was wrong. It was a case of him looking after me, rather than me looking after him.

Now he’s back with me and we are back to being best buds. He looks up to me, and I’m looking after him, which is how it should be.

I’m looking forward to my first proper Christmas with my son – and my first sober one since childhood. Last Christmas I’d just done a detox and was sober in the run-up to it, but then I started drinking again and didn’t tell anybody. When it got to Christmas, the truth came out. I’d had a bottle of wine before I even turned up to my mum’s and I ended up ruining the whole day. It was a big shock to them because they all thought I’d been doing really well. I turned up in a state and can’t imagine what my son must have been thinking. It was supposed to be the day when Santa comes with all his toys, and everyone enjoys themselves. Instead he saw me making an idiot of myself and upsetting all the family. But this year, thanks to THOMAS, it’s going to be completely different and I’m actually looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years.