Jacqueline has been a resident at Amy’s Place since September 2020. This is her story.
“After leaving rehab it’s common for people to go into something called ‘sobriety housing’. That’s where you live a more normal life and get used to the real world again. Things like paying bills, looking after yourself.
I’d been living in sobriety housing but I found it really hard. These places can be very tough and male. I was sharing a house with nine men. It’s difficult to be in a place like that if you’re like me, a woman who’s nervous and quiet. I found it very isolating and lonely.
But that’s how things are for so many young women. I remember a drugs worker telling me that getting the right support was a lottery. Because there are so few places to turn to. And when you feel unsafe or alone you’re in survival mode. You can’t grow, or think positively about the future.
But Amy’s Place is different, and that’s why it’s been so important for me.
I was orphaned at a young age and after that, I went into the care system. By 11 or 12 I had found drugs and alcohol. I started with cigarettes, and then it was weed, and after that I tried everything. Drugs were a way to hide from what happened to me, and I used them for a long time. I ended up addicted to heroin and it wasn’t until I was 26 that I got sober.
When I did, the real world was terrifying. I remember my first time going shopping. Until then, I’d never been to a supermarket without being drunk or on drugs. This time, I started crying because I was so overwhelmed by it.
It might sound odd, but when you come out of rehab it’s like you have no skin on you. You’re so vulnerable and everything feels like it might hurt you. But now I’m at Amy’s Place, I’m getting stronger. It feels like my skin is starting to grow back.
I’ve been sober for three years now. I feel very proud of that, and my life is very different than it used to be. One of the reasons is that I’m somewhere I feel safe. Amy’s Place gives me a space to grow and to get better at things. This is the only place I know of that is safe for women like me, and where I can learn to do these things without feeling worried about messing up or getting things wrong.
And slowly but surely I’m re-learning a healthy way of living. I’ve been sorting out my own bills, and saving my money for furniture and pots and pans. I’m not someone who gets overwhelmed by the shops anymore, that’s for certain. I didn’t know how to navigate the world but now I’m practising being in the system, and doing things the right way.
Before Amy’s Place, I had a very fixed idea of what addiction was. But the other residents have such varied experiences. You’ll have some who were homeless, or who spent their lives sofa surfing, for example. And then you’ll have people who came from real privilege. But all of us have so much in common. We have all had problems with drugs and alcohol – but most importantly we’ve all struggled with isolation and self esteem and with loving ourselves.
And we’ve all needed the kind of special support that you can find here, at Amy’s Place.
For me, addiction was complete isolation. I felt as if nobody could know my pain or could ever understand me. But that has all changed. At Amy’s Place I am with inspiring people who understand how my life was, and who can empower me for the future.
So whereas once upon a time it was just me, I now have community and sisterhood.”