“If I had known it was heroin, I would have stayed away from it. "
This would never have happened to Holly in The Netherlands where the sale of cannabis to adults from "Coffeeshops" has been tolerated since the mid-70's
Dutch Government figures also reveal that the increase in numbers of new heroin addicts is lower than the UK.
Meanwhile, the UK law did not manage to stop Emma from using drugs and did nothing to actually help her: "It was not until he was sent to prison Emma had withdrawal symptoms – known to addicts as clucking – and discovered she was hooked on heroin."
Reformed heroin addict is now a mature student and manager
9:00am Friday 25th February 2011
By James Dwan »
A YOUNG woman has quit her life as a heroin addict to start a university course and become a manager.
Just as character Holly Barton in ITV1’s Emmerdale has been going through a cold turkey regime locked away at home, a convicted offender in Colchester said she kicked the habit in a similar way.
Emma, 27, from Colchester, spent eight years in and out of prison, living on the streets and shoplifting to fund her £100-a-day habit.
But after taking part in a Probation Service course, she kicked the habit and is now working as a marketing executive in charge of 20 staff.
She said: “When I was 15, I had a huge row with my mum because she found out I got a tattoo. She hit the roof and kicked me out.
“I slept on the streets for four nights before someone took me in.
“I then moved to a Christian hostel, but couldn’t have been anywhere worse, as kids in there had just been out of care and were taking pills.
“I was a country bumpkin and there were all these hardened, scary girls – it was a nightmare.”
Emma later moved to a YMCA out of Essex, where she met a 22-year-old drug addict named Steven, with whom she became “totally obsessed”.
She said: “Steven smoked heroin on the foil.
“He told me it was cannabis resin and I believed him.
“If I had known it was heroin, I would have stayed away from it.
“For four months I smoked it with Steve and couldn’t understand why I was ill – I thought I had a cold all the time.”
It was not until he was sent to prison Emma had withdrawal symptoms – known to addicts as clucking – and discovered she was hooked on heroin.
“I found out I had a £100-a-day habit without even knowing it,” she added. “I didn’t even know where I could get more, but I soon found out.
“From there, my whole life spiralled totally out of control.”
Emma started shoplifting to pay for heroin and crack cocaine. She would have to steal £400 of goods to raise about £100 by selling the items in pubs.
She would steal everything from electrical items to meat from supermarkets.
She said: “I was in and out of the police station all of the time. One week I was arrested four times.”
After being arrested for trying to steal a vacuum cleaner and DVDs from a Colchester supermarket, she was sent to Highpoint women’s prison in Suffolk for six months.
She added: “I spent my 18th birthday in jail – I was gutted.”
Emma declined help, as she didn’t want to go through the pain of coming off of drugs.
“Until you experience going cold turkey, you can’t judge,” she said. “The pain is horrendous.”
After being sentenced to supervision by Essex Probation on a community order – which included a specialised drug programme – Emma decided to get clean.
She battled on to achieve negative drug test results and, over time, regained control of her life.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the skills I learnt on that programme, and all your support and encouragement,” said Emma. “Previous efforts to deal with my drug use and all those offences I was committing had little effect. My recent experiences marked a real turning point.”
Emma also decided to go cold turkey and get herself clean, locking herself in her home.
She said: “Going through cold turkey is it like going to hell – you have searing pains in your muscles. I had pains in my kidneys and back which felt like someone was stabbing me with red hot knives. You have hot and cold sweats, you feel disgusting and dirty and can’t walk or anything – you are useless.”
After the 15th day of cold turkey, Emma started to go out of the house, but it took five months for her to feel stable.
She had trouble getting a job due to her convictions, but was finally given a chance at a telesales company in north Essex, and now works as a marketing executive in charge of a team of staff. She said: “I love what I do, and I enjoy every day and I think I can go quite far.
“I have been clean for 18 months and drugs are not even an issue any more – I don’t even think about them.”
Emma has now repaired her relationship with her family and is in her second year of a degree course with the Open University.