How mum got her life back from grip of addiction

Tracy Dixon
Tracy Dixon now helps people going through addiction recovery [Tracy Dixon]

Tracy Dixon did not have an easy start in life. Her parents were alcoholics and there was violence and trauma when she was growing up. Tracy started drinking when she was 12 years old and would drink to excess, even at that early age. By the time she was 17, she was a heroin addict.

Looking back, Ms Dixon, 45, from Middlesbrough, knows substance use recovery organisation, Recovery Connections, saved her life.

She had her first child when she was 21 years old.

"I struggled with being a mum because of the way my addiction took hold, and it just escalated, it continued to get worse," Ms Dixon said.

By the time she had her fifth child, her children had to go and stay with their paternal family.

She said: "It was during that point that I felt I had no fight in me, nothing left. I couldn't see my children at this point, so I had absolutely given up."

Ms Dixon said she felt "utterly powerless".

"Then I just felt this really soft, gentle voice, and I don't know what it was or who it was, but it was saying, 'get up and fight!'"

'We start to live'

That is how she first came into contact with Recovery Connections, based in Middlesbrough, with teams in Gateshead, Stockton and Sunderland.

It was founded by members of the local recovery community and offered peer-to-peer support and rehab.

Ms Dixon said she went to the rehab and it helped her "get her life back".

She got to be with her children again, her family connections started to recover and she created a new network of friends.

"We get into recovery and we start to live," Ms Dixon said.

A year after she left rehab, she applied to become a community coach in Middlesbrough, eventually working in Gateshead and Darlington as a service manager.

She said: "I think the beauty of our organisation is that it's okay not to know, because we all come from that same place. We understand how difficult that place was.

"You're empowered to make good choices, take leaps of faith, and we're encouraged to become who we're supposed to be."

Tracy and other Recovery Connections workers
Ms Dixon said shared experience helped the team do their work [Recovery Connections]

The organisation is currently looking to recruit more people to help coach those recovering from addiction.

Several full-time roles are available in Redcar, and at their other sites in the north-east of England.

CEO of Recovery Connections Dot Smith said the team welcomed applicants from a "wide" range of backgrounds, including those with experience of "addiction, homelessness, and the criminal justice system".

"You’ll be making a positive difference in the lives of local people, their families, and the wider community," she said.

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