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Amanda Edgar has had the highs and the lows of drug use.

At 49 she’s just starting to get the feeling she craves most – normality.

She’s spent the past few months helping transform a railway underpass at Bootle’s Oriel Road railway station. It’s part of moving on from a life where cannabis, then heroin, was used to block out emotions from an abusive relationship.

After 15 years in Bristol she came back up North for her dad’s funeral and never went back. The relationship was over but the addiction was harder to leave behind. “I’m a strong person but I was under my partner’s control. He cut off all outside connections. I lost the ability to communicate; I felt lost. The drugs helped get the thoughts from my head but then darker thoughts come in. You don’t eat, I was running on empty – I still am.”

For all she’s been through there’s no self pity, more a sense of pride that even at her most desperate she didn’t take what wasn’t hers to support her habit. “I’d rather cold turkey than steal. I used to make tea from wild lettuce to stave off the withdrawal symptoms and calm me down. It didn’t change me as a person; I still had the same morals.” Ambition Sefton has helped her get back to reality. “I understand now that you need certain things to grow like a plant needs light and water. I’m taking a heroin substitute called Subutex which doesn’t give you a high – I don’t want the highs, I want to feel normal.”

It was her key worker Louise who suggested Amanda joined the underpass project. It’s something of a metaphor for Amanda’s life. “Before I did the work I always dreaded walking through because it was so dark and dank, you always had the feeling something bad might happen. There were times when it was cold, rainy and I didn’t want to be there but I wanted to see it through and now it’s bright and a good place to be.”

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust provides help and support to the residents of Sefton who have a drug and alcohol problem.

This service is called Ambition Sefton and it offers a wide range of recovery focused treatment pathways. These include:

• Open access: just walk in to self-refer

• Access to community detox

• Specialist prescribing services

• Specialist alcohol services

• Take home naloxone

• Harm reduction advice/service including needle syringe exchange

• Blood borne virus screening and vaccination

• Brief interventions: one to one support

• Access to inpatient detoxification pathways

• Access to Intuitive Thinking courses

• Peer support mentoring and access to mutual aid groups

• Psychosocial support and services.

Find out more here

About the Author:

Mersey Care provides adult specialist mental health, addiction, learning disability and community health services in North West England and beyond. Our vision is to become the leading organisation in the provision of these services. Quality, recovery and wellbeing are at the heart of everything that we do. We provide specialist inpatient and community mental health, learning disabilities, addiction services and acquired brain injury services for the people of Liverpool, Sefton and Kirkby, Merseyside. We provide community physical health services in Sefton, secure mental health services for the North West of England, the West Midlands and Wales and specialist learning disability services across Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside. We are one of only three trusts in the country that provide these services. Our clinical services are provided across 40 sites across the North West. Our teams are supported by a corporate team based at our offices in Kings Business Park, Prescot, Merseyside. Over 5000 staff serve a population of almost 11 million people.

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