How I beat my addiction one step at a time
LYING covered in blood that poured from her smashed nose, her head lost in a toxic haze of drugs and vodka, something was triggered in Louise's mind – it was time to change her ways.
June 29, 2009 was the day her life finally began. She decided to get clean.
The 41-year-old spent at least 18 years dependent on recreational drugs and booze, sleeping with her bottles of vodka as comfort.
Costing £400 a week at its worst, she believes it was an addiction she was born with.
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Today, Louise is as vibrant as the multicoloured jumper she wears, but her past was very different.
She began drinking alcohol and sniffing glue in her native Yorkshire at the age of 13 followed by recreational drugs including mushrooms, speed and lighter gas when she was 20.
However, it spiralled out of control.
"I had a fantastic childhood: a nice family; holidays," she said. "There's nothing there where I could say, 'Oh, this happened; oh, that happened'.
"I was swimming for Yorkshire when I was younger but I had a disease in my spine and had to stop.
"I started doing the usual stuff behind the youth club: sniffing glue, Tipp-ex. I took cocaine later on. It wasn't as rife as it is now.
"I had no off switch."
Louise moved to Newquay two months before her 18th birthday for summer work, with her parents following her there soon after.
This was followed by a two-year-stint of "hell" and "carnage" selling and taking drugs in Warrington in Cheshire, before her father rescued her and brought her back to the resort.
At 25 she found herself in a violent relationship with a dealer and was unable to hold down a long-term job.
The partying, drug-taking and boozing got worse. "I got into all sorts of trouble – spent the night in the cells once," she said.
"I always wanted oblivion. I didn't know how to cope without it.
"My whole coping mechanism was drink and drugs.
"I felt like a freak my whole life."
Between the ages of 30 and 35, while working as an NHS healthcare technician, things had slowed down, but Louise was still drinking alcohol and taking cocaine.
Due to depression she was signed off from work on long-term sick leave, and the boozing intensified.
"I was drinking a litre of vodka a day," she said. "I slept with it.
"For the last five or six months I never saw anyone. It was just vodka then. I was still eating herbal pills.
"My friends had deserted me. They couldn't cope with me any more.
"I was living with a boy; we're still good friends now. He wasn't a drinker.
"I think he saved my life."
Louise describes the "vague memory" she has of the day when her life finally changed.
"It was a Sunday," she said. "We were going to go to the beach.
"He came home and I was passed out on the decking, rolling around pretending I was all right.
"I'd broken the toilet; brought the sink off the wall; bust my nose. My face was covered in carpet burns.
"Apparently I got on my knees and said, 'I've got to go to the farm'.
"To this day I don't know where that came from.
"He said my eyes had changed and I looked like a scared girl. I went to Bosence the following Tuesday."
Bosence Farm Community provides structured residential rehabilitation using a 12-step model and shares a site with the Boswyns detoxification and rehabilitation centre in Townshend, near Hayle.
The two centres, the only ones of their kind in Cornwall, treat former drug and alcohol users at different stages of their recovery.
They operate around a strict timetable designed to introduce structure into the recovering addicts' lives and as well as treating the addiction, the centres aim to tackle the cause behind it to prevent relapses.
Louise entered Bosence on June 29, 2009, where she spent eight months recovering – and hasn't touched drugs or alcohol since. She says it saved her life.
Just over three years later, she has gained several qualifications, including her Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS), and has turned her life around. In May she was named the national Adult Learner of the Year.
She said she hoped sharing her story would inspire other addicts to get help.
"My dad used to say, 'When are you going to stop running?'
"I was very close to dying. You can be helped and your life will change.
"Your life will begin."