Alana’s story

“I went through a lot as a child. From when I was 6 until I was 9, I was taking care of my mum. Then my dad left in quite a brutal way. None of my school peers could understand what I was going through. I was a young carer. I had to wash my own clothes and do my own hair. My hair never, ever got cut. I felt completely alone.

“I thought it would be a good idea to get an older family member to come home to help me, but they brought their friends into the house and I was abused. I had my childhood stolen from me. When I was 11, I was injected with heroin and I was raped.  Then, they made me take it every day. After a while, I started to grab whatever I could get my hands on because my brain just couldn’t actually cope with what had happened.

“After that, I went from foster family to foster family, children’s home to children’s home. I was only a child. No child deserves to go through what I went through. I carried on using drugs until I was 25.

“I started coming to Aberlour Family Service when my daughter was 3 months old. I had been clean for several years before she was born, and she was born totally healthy and normal. I thought coming to Aberlour Family Service, would be a great idea, because it would help me to get out of the house, and it would be a good way to get extra support.

“When you use drugs, you are totally numb to everything around you. So when you come off drugs, you can’t handle normal things. Some former drug users find it hard to do normal human interaction, or can’t look you in the eye. For some it’s because their confidence is so low, for others it’s simply because they’ve been numb for so long, they don’t know how to do normal any more.

“One of the hardest things about coming off drugs, is encountering ‘normal people problems’. Things like paying your bills. Simple things that everyone has to do. But these are things a drug user might never have done. That’s where Aberlour Family Service was a great help.

“Coming here to the groups helped me get better at things like cooking, learning to budget, not wasting my money. When you use drugs, the attitude is more about living for the moment and you can easily blow all your week’s money in one day, but now I need to budget and plan and save. Coming here to groups helped me to learn that.

“Coming here also helped me to start listening to my body again, something else that I had ignored when I was using. Eating when I’m hungry, taking care of myself when I’m unwell.

“You’ll never get out of the hole that you are in, if no-one is there to help you. People deserve a bit of compassion and understanding because you never know what someone has been through in their life.

“Today I’m paying off debts from when I was using. Today I do normal people stuff. I go to work, pay my bills, go to appointments. I have patience for people. I handle things maturely. Today I live in a house where I paid for everything and I have receipts for everything, and that feels great.

“My daughter is very bright. She’s into maths and art. She’s very good at art. She likes singing and dancing. She’s decided what bike she’s going to have when she’s older. She’s adamant she is going work with animals. She loves animals but they don’t always love her.

“When I look to the future, I just want to stay healthy and happy and keep being a good mum to her. She never saw me upset or struggling. She’s got a stable mum. She is very happy.”