‘I realised I needed help after throwing myself out of an upstairs window’ – alcohol and drugs addict speaks out after Stevenage-based centre saves her life

The Living Room founder Janis Feely outside the Stevenage-based addiction therapy centre.

The Living Room founder Janis Feely outside the Stevenage-based addiction therapy centre. - Credit: Archant

As an award-winning addiction rehabilitation centre sets out to raise more funds to support its work, client Amanda has spoken about the role the charity played in saving her life.

Amanda grew up with a drug addict mother and alcoholic father, was left to care for her two younger siblings, and had an early life which was both chaotic and scary.

Despite a difficult upbringing, she was a grade A student at school and had dreams of going to university – but became hooked on cannabis when she was 15 and got into a bad relationship.

She said: “I completely lost my identity and interests, with all my focus being on my partner, who was a drug and alcohol user.

“Together we took cannabis and alcohol before moving onto ketamine, magic mushrooms and cocaine.”

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After five years they split up, but Amanda found herself in yet another addictive relationship for three years.

Her third relationship was also with an addict, but it finally led to her recovery.

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Amanda, a mother-of-one, said: “The relationship was volatile from the start and ended with me throwing myself out of an upstairs window onto the concrete below, fracturing my pelvis and wrist.

“When I came out of hospital I continued to take alcohol and drugs. It was then I realised I needed help.

“I decided to refer myself to The Living Room. The group dynamic has been a fundamental ingredient to my recovery – to be with others who have had similar addictive experiences and who are committed to enjoying a new life.

“I have learned to reach out to other addicts in recovery, go to fellowship meetings and to church.

“I have my life back now and am setting up my own business that will draw on my childhood passion of arts and crafts.

“I have learned to love myself and this has had a massive impact on my relationship with my son.

“I feel I have broken the cycle of addiction passed on to me by my parents.”

The Living Room at The Glebe in Stevenage is a non-residential rehabilitation centre for people with addictions to anything from alcohol and drugs to gambling and sex.

Founder Janis Feely, who has been free from her addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs for 29 years, said: “I will only have counsellors who have been addicts. That’s why we have a 60 to 70 per cent success rate with our clients.

“The trust builds up immediately and they know they can’t pull the wool over our eyes.”

As well as counselling, The Living Room – which was founded 15 years ago – helps clients through creative writing, art therapy, drama groups and even equine therapy.

There is also a creche at the Chells Way-based centre to enable addicts with young children to get the help they so desperately need, and the charity has just been given £94,506 by Children in Need to support the facility for three years.

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