Volunteering at SHP has been an important part of Deb’s recovery.

She began using drugs when she was in her early twenties, continuing for almost thirty years. Reflecting on the experience, she says: “It’s hard work being an addict. In the morning, the first thing on your mind is getting money to buy drugs.”

She spent time in prison and smoking crack left her with an ongoing lung problem. At the time she felt so numb that these issues didn’t register with her. But eventually, she decided that she had had enough.

She went to rehab, and remembers these as some of the most enjoyable months of her life. “You just get to think about yourself all the time,” she says. Returning home, however, was challenging. She knew that if she didn’t keep busy, boredom would set in and she could relapse.

She decided to attend SHP’s Aftercare service, which helps those recovering from substance misuse issues to enter education, training and employment. She attended Fuchsia, a programme of confidence-building workshops, and took a number of training courses on recovery.

A few months into her time at SHP, her support worker suggested that she become a Recovery Peer. She wasn’t particularly confident that she could do the role, but decided to apply anyway and was accepted. Recovery Peers, having overcome addiction themselves, inspire clients to believe that they can succeed too.

Once or twice a week, Deb now sits down with a group of clients for an informal discussion group. For many it is a chance to share their challenges, and can become a source of strength. She has also accompanied clients on the journey to rehab. Volunteering has been rewarding, allowing her to help people recover a sense of hope.

As far as the future goes, she believes that she’s “on this journey for life.” She knows that if she isn’t careful she could relapse. She plans to keep volunteering as a Recovery Peer as she continues her own recovery.

After witnessing her years of substance abuse, her daughter recently said to her, “I’m proud of you.” This meant a lot and Deb feels grateful for the family she has around her. “I wasn’t enjoying life - now I am,” she says.