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I couldn’t live this way any more and was prepared to do anything to be the parent and person that I knew I wanted to be.
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Kizzy Helgesen
Team Lead, Reach Drug & Alcohol Services

I am in recovery from alcohol addiction. I had always had a bad relationship with alcohol until, despite holding down very good and respected jobs, I was drinking daily and trying to hide it from everyone. I didn’t realise why I drank nor that I had become physically addicted to it until I tried to give it up.


At that point I would relapse after a certain amount of time, each time worse than the last.  Whilst I went to AA for support it did help but the relapses kept coming, as did the drink drive convictions. I tried for several years to stay abstinent, even having two children but every day was a battle not to drink. My head was filled with fear and I always wanted to drink, but just held out.


Until I eventually cracked and drank whilst in sole care of my children. Social service were called and my children, aged 2 and 4 were removed on the spot to a family member. I was done. It had never occurred to me that I would place my children in harms way. I couldn’t live this way any more and was prepared to do anything to be the parent and person that I knew I wanted to be.


I called my local alcohol service Reach and asked for help. I was seen within a day face to face and advised on how to go about solving this addiction. I attended groups every day, I attended 121 sessions with my navigator, I had a family worker to support me too. They gave me support practically as well as through psychosocial interventions. I had lost my job, house, marriage and children that day and had to start with nothing.


I did what was suggested, groups, mutual aid and I talked. I didn’t hide behind shame any more, I talked about my insecurities and fears and learned how to cope with myself and the world I lived in, without needing to drink. I wasn’t craving it, I now knew how to live properly. My mental health improved, my physical health improved and I realised I could actually enjoy day to day life.


The importance of the groups was shown to me when one Sunday I was struggling. I drove to the outside of the Reach building and sat and shared my worries with the front door – and it helped.


My children were returned to me after a year of seeing them for only a few hours a day. I sat in my sparsely furnished flat, staring at them asleep in their beds the first night they came home and sobbed with a mixture of guilt and joy and a promise that I would continue to recover.


Together we are a happy threesome of determination, where open conversations and healthy living are encouraged. A huge change to my life before. And I have never drunk a drop of alcohol from the moment they were taken from the house that day.


I became a peer mentor for Reach in Dorset, facilitating groups and enjoyed being able to work within the organisation that had supported me. I graduated to a volunteer and then was encouraged to apply for a role as Single Point of Contact – which I did and worked as for two years.


I enjoy the security of working in an environment where I don’t have to lie about my past, where no one judges me and where everyone is so supportive. Everyone wants everyone to win at Reach.


The in-house training and supervisions have formed not only a great basis for my working practices but also as part of my ongoing recovery.

I then took the post of Recovery Navigator – supporting service users who were just like I had been. Encouraging them to follow the same steps to recovery and a happy life. I have been lucky enough to be part of many service users journeys and see them start to volunteer and work for Reach too. The circle continues.


I loved getting involved in the strategic part of how to support service users further so I then became a Team Lead, managing hubs, staff, volunteers and I am loving it and then side stepping to Data Admin Lead. In just six years I have gone from standing in a court room, no job, no children, no home and not knowing who I was to having a lovely family, buying a house of my own, being a Team Lead with an organisation that helped me build a life I didn’t want to escape from and most importantly that I can manage my life without needing to drink. When people comment that they don’t recognise me from before – I smile and think, good.