Mum-of-two Emma Stanyer says without the support she received to recover from her dependency on alcohol she would not be alive today.
The 45-year-old, of Burslem, sought help from Stoke Recovery Service (SRS) – part of the Community Drug and Alcohol Service (CDAS) – after ending up in hospital, giving her the motivation and encouragement to turn her life around.
Emma, whose daughters went to live with relatives while she was drinking heavily, is now urging other sufferers to seek help.
She said: “I was in a real mess before I had any contact with SRS. I’d had a bad relationship with alcohol for most of my adult life, but I’d been functioning with it. It was my way of coping. And then I had a nervous breakdown, and started drinking more heavily.
“In April 2017 I went into hospital for three weeks and was really poorly. I had cirrhosis of the liver, and the doctors didn’t know if I was going to make it.
“A key worker at SRS visited me while I was in hospital, and told me about the service. He said to visit him when I was well enough. So I did.
“SRS gave me the motivation that I needed to survive. I’d been through rehab before and had attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Nothing had worked. I’d lost both my children through alcohol, and I was at a point where I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get through it.
“But the staff at SRS were amazing. Being around people who had been through the same things I was going through, and to see them visibly well, gave me something to work towards. I have a wonderfully supportive family and partner, but I still needed that extra help from SRS to get through this.”
Emma’s relationship with her daughters is now much improved and she is also looking at doing voluntary work at places such as Harplands Hospital.
She said: “When my kids went to live with family, my life just went. I didn’t know what to do.
“But I realised there is light at the end of the tunnel, and now I can be a mum again. My family has been brilliant.
“You have to put the effort in if you want to recover from something like a dependency on alcohol. And you need to surround yourself with people who are doing well, and who won’t drag you down.
“It’s also about acknowledging every positive step, no matter how small it is – like having a shower. It’s hard to do, but it’s important to recognise that you’re doing well.”
CDAS is a partnership between North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, Addaction and BAC O’Connor. It is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to provide a full range of recovery-focussed services – including advice, information, brief interventions, effective treatment and recovery support – for the next five years.
Councillor Ann James, council leader and cabinet member for health and social care, said: “This is the first time integrated drug and alcohol services have been commissioned in this joined-up way in Stoke-on-Trent.
“Success stories like Emma’s are proof that this kind of support is needed in the city – and that it works.
“The new model of delivery includes providing a community-based service in venues closer to where people live, and engaging and supporting people using technology such as webchat and social media in addition to more traditional methods. Service users will have the opportunity to be key partners in their own recovery, as well as advisers on service development and mentors to people earlier in recovery.
“Additionally, CDAS will work closely with other organisations in the city that provide support to address problems that impact on drug and alcohol use, such as debt and poor housing, to help people make positive changes and rebuild their lives.”
Karen Tyrell, executive director of external affairs at Addaction, said: “Emma is an amazing example of how a person's life can change with the right support.
“We are incredibly proud to deliver the drug and alcohol service in Stoke-on-Trent. A big part of our work will be getting the message out that we're here for everyone.
“If you're worried about your own relationship with drugs or alcohol, or if you want to get some advice on behalf of someone you care about – we're here to help. You can come to us in person or chat to a trained adviser on our confidential web chat service at www.addaction.org.uk.”
People living in Stoke-on-Trent who want to reduce the negative impact that drugs and alcohol can have on their lives – or those worried about someone else – can contact CDAS for support. The service offers a range of groups people can join, a team of nurses who can advise on how to improve health and stay motivated, a keyworker who will work with people and develop a plan to get them back on track and a team of doctors who can talk about the different treatment and medication options available. To contact CDAS, go to www.scdas.org.uk, email email@example.com or call 01782 283113. Stoke Recovery Service can be contacted in the same way.