A testimonial from a Grandparent

I’ve lived and worked in the same town for 49 of my 52 years. I’ve got a strong circle of friends, a long-term partner and a long-term job working in the community. In my time, I’ve been a heavy drinker and have even smoked cannabis, but my daughter’s drug use is very different.

When Beth first told me, I took it in my stride

About 10 years ago Beth, my daughter, started experimenting with heroin . Her boyfriend was an addict and she began to use it more and more. After about a year she told me about it – we’ve always had an open relationship. I think I took it in my stride, but it was very clear that her drug use was very different from my youthful experimentation.

But then I realised how much the heroin had taken over

Soon I realised that heroin had taken over Beth’s life. Of course, I nagged her about what she was doing to herself. But it quickly became clear that this wasn’t helping things between us. What’s more, my anxiety was damaging things between my partner and me.

Focusing attention on my grandson made me less anxious and depressed

As Beth became increasingly dependent, I realised that she was becoming less capable of looking after her young son. He was missing school because she couldn’t always get him there, so I suggested that I could look after him during the week. Soon he was living full time with me. I work at night and then take him to school in the morning. Caring for him has made me less anxious and depressed because I’ve got to be strong for him – and I’m optimistic about his life.

But the harsh reality is that things are still difficult for Beth

Life is still up and down. A few months ago, Beth was taken into hospital with blood clots on her heart. She was lucky and survived. At first I thought this scare might help her stick to her treatment programme, but I don’t think that is happening. I see Beth when I can and, whenever we talk, I tell her I love her. But sometimes she disappears for weeks on end. The harsh reality is that I can’t make her stop. She’ll either live or die. This is really hard for all of us, particularly as her ex-boyfriend – and father of her son – died of a heroin overdose three years ago.