I came from an ordinary home in many ways. My parents loved me, but there were problems in the marriage, and they broke up when I was young. I lived in a regional town in Australia that didn’t have a lot going for it. Many of my friend’s parents drank in excess and took drugs.
I began experimenting with other substances. I felt more confident when I took drugs and there were a lot of parties to go to. Before too long I was introduced to heroin.
This began a drug affair that held me captive for years.
I knew in my heart that I was going downhill, and I did go to several rehabs, but each time after leaving, I would begin using again within weeks.
Outwardly my life looked successful, I had a lot of friends, I was working in the creative industries and I helped set up several businesses. But love and desire for heroin was my driving influence.
I got involved with a man and I fell pregnant.
When I was pregnant with my son, I just knew that I had to protect him. My little boy was born prematurely and was in the hospital for 3 months. I spent every day with him, giving him breast milk and doing what I could to help him thrive. But when I brought him home, I couldn’t easily slot into mum and bubs groups because I struggled with addiction.
I became very isolated. I was a good mum and did the best that I could. But things were not going well. I cried out to God to get me out of the mess I had found myself in, and my aunt came to visit. She saw very clearly the state I was in and encouraged me to attend Teen Challenge rehab.
I had run out of excuses, and I couldn’t keep up the facade any longer.
I was so sick. I decided to go to the Teen Challenge rehab, I remember I cried the whole way there.
My cousins opened their home to my little boy - they are Christians, and I am so grateful to them for doing this. I think my son saved my life.
Being in the TC New Life Centre rehab was like entering another world. There was a lot of love, a lot of boundaries and some high expectations. After I had been in the program for about 6 months, I had an argument and decided to leave. It was a mistake but my pride wouldn’t allow me to call and ask to return. I went back to Melbourne without my son and fell quickly back into my previous lifestyle.
I was so unhappy I came back into the program and finished the 12-month program. I was accepted for who I am by everyone at Teen Challenge, which was huge for me… I had such a long history of drug use, and there were so many times I had tried to stop before. It took me forever to surrender because I was so sceptical. But then something changed, and I allowed God to do what He wanted to do in and through my life. I sensed Jesus' presence and experienced a slow conversion to God’s love.
I remember telling my caseworker all my shameful stories, and she didn't flinch. She said “Rachel, you are forgiven” and I did start to experience the freedom that comes with forgiveness. For the first time I had no cravings for heroin!
If I have a bad day now, I reach out for support. Every day is a new day and Teen Challenge is only a phone call away. I was always a good mum but now I feel like a great mum and I finally have peace in my heart that I have never had before.
*Name and image changed to protect privacy