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*Louise’s life changed on her daughter’s 21st birthday, that was the day she found out her daughter had been using drugs

“That was the start of our nightmare, one that has lasted nearly 25 years. It was a big shock when we first found out, but one that we thought we could sort out. Our daughter Clare had been quite a normal young person, maybe a little rebellious, and she did like her own way, but nothing more than that. She was never bad to me, she didn’t smoke or drink, she socialised like any normal young woman so when we found out about her using tablets we couldn’t understand why. She became involved with a young man who introduced her to more serious drugs, heroin. He offered it and she took it.


Over the years she would usually live at our house, but occasionally she would leave for a while and go live elsewhere. God knows where, but she usually returned home. Her drug use caused so much family upset and it came close to wrecking my marriage to her dad. I wanted so much to protect her from the drug use and look after her, yet her father was much harder with her, much tougher… he wanted her to take responsibility and sort herself out, he felt she had choices and she should make better choices . I couldn’t be like that, she was my child and I wanted her to be better. This caused so much anguish in the family, and between me and her dad. He and I would argue so much, and throughout this time I often felt that Clare was deliberately causing the conflict. It was as if our arguing would take the spotlight off what she was doing, and she would get away with it. 

She started using crack cocaine, and as time went on Clare became so secretive, everything she said was a lie, everything. Even when she didn’t need to lie, she would, like lying to us became her first thought. She would tell us her doctor had given her tablets that made her sleep and she’d be in her bedroom all day. I believed her. I think I believed her anyway. But she always went out at night, always. Now I know she was going out to get her crack. She was lying through her teeth. We resented her so much. Yet if other people criticised her behaviour I would defend her to the end, whether this was other family, friends or neighbours, I would stand up for her, stand up for her like an animal protecting its young. 

We never wanted her to leave our home but we couldn’t stand watching her ruin her life, it was painful to see. We couldn’t bear her wasting her life and ruining ours. We felt we had to ask her to leave. But each time she did leave she would get worse. She would start injecting. So we had to take her back again. It felt like we were trapped. It was so awful yet there was nothing we could do. Our lives have become miserable. I wanted so much to believe that she was behaving herself that I didn’t see what was staring me in the face. I was desperate to believe her. 

My youngest daughter loves her sister, but she hates what she’s put us all through. She worries about her all the time. 

I don’t share everything about Clare with her two sisters, I couldn’t. I need to protect her from the anger that it would cause. And that makes me feel guilty because I feel I’m being deceitful towards them. They’ve warned me to tell them everything though. That’s because they want to protect me and help me. So everybody in the family seems to try and protect the other, but Clare gets away with it. 

Clare has gone to almost every person I know to ask for money. It’s so embarrassing. I feel so ashamed. She’s stolen from us many times. That hurts so much. 

I now know that I’ve done everything I can to help her and that’s important for me to know so that I don’t blame myself for what she’s done. But I do feel guilty for neglecting my other family in trying to help Clare. And this is worse because they would tell me things about her that I wouldn’t accept. 

Now she’s living away from our house and I’m determined that she won’t come back here. I’m determined not to give more money to her. I’m not going to make it easier for her.

*Louise's name and image have been changed at her request to protect her anonymity.

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