Over the last couple of years, BHT Sussex’s Addiction Services have noticed an increase in the number of ‘second generation’ addicts. They were children who grew up with one, or both, parents with a severe alcohol and/or drug problem. They often suffered extreme neglect and, in most cases, severe trauma.
The nature of the work that we do at both the Detox Support Project and at the Recovery Project is to help clients to address safely the legacy of their core needs being unmet as children. By doing so, we reduce the chances of those issues becoming triggers for relapse, and they are able to rebuild their lives with the skills and self-belief they were not given as children.
Brendon is a 31-year old alcohol and cocaine addict who recently completed treatment within our Addiction Services. This is his story.
“Hi my name is Brendon and I am a recovering addict from Brighton. When I was a kid I realised at a young age that my mum was an addict. When I was born I was put into care for a few years with my two sisters, but then my mum got me back with her when I was about 4 years old.
“As I was growing up there was a lot of drug use going on in our home. I remember not having many rules in place by my mum from a very young age. I remember missing a lot of school and waiting for my mum for hours each day to come home.
“It was when I was about 10 that I realised what sort of drugs my mum was on. I found out at this age my mum was a heroin user. We would find dirty needles in the house and drugs all over the place. We hardly had anything to eat, we basically had to fend for ourselves.
“We got evicted from our family home and put in temporary accommodation in Brighton. There was me and my two sisters, my mum and her boyfriend in a one bedroom B&B. My mum put my older sister in care at this time so it was me and my younger sister left. My sister looked after me more than my mum because my mum wasn’t capable.
“We used to see my mum injecting heroin in front of us and she was always out of it. We witnessed a lot of abuse towards her and to us by her boyfriend at the time. My sister ended up being put into care and I was the only child left with my mum. I was 11 years old. My mum used to get me to beg on the streets for her to fund her habit, and I was staying in squats and B&BS with her. A few months after this I ended up going into a foster home myself.
“After my mum died I used drugs and alcohol near enough every day. I nearly killed my self many times and put my family through the pain that my mum put me and my sisters through when we were kids. I was an alcoholic and a cocaine addict for many years. In the end I lost everything. I lost my home and all my family relationships. I ended up homeless myself living on a beach in Shoreham. This was when I realised I needed help.
“My sister put me in contact with Pavilions (a local alcohol and drug service) who guided me to the Detox Support Project.
“The day I arrived at Detox Support Project as a client was the day my life changed for ever. I had so much support from staff and my peers and for the first time in my life I got clean and began to like being me again. I was in Detox Support Project for 6 weeks. I learned so much in there about me and how to live life normally without drugs inside of me.
“I then progressed on to the next stage at the Recovery Project. I really have done a lot of work on myself in there and began to build a new life for myself. When I was a client at the Recovery Project I put a lot of my demons to rest and began to accept some of the things that happened in my child hood. I started doing voluntary work up at Detox Support Project and ended up getting the privilege to be an intern there.