My name is Chloe; When I became pregnant three years ago I really believed that it would be enough to make my boyfriend Paul stop taking drugs. We have been together now for twelve years and it was after five years that Paul was introduced to heroin by an old school friend that had just been released from prison and had tried the drug whilst inside. Paul tried heroin and was instantly addicted to the way it made him feel. Over the next couple of years I watched helplessly as he changed from being a decent lad with a good job to a desperate junkie. But I loved him and desperately wanted to believe he could get clean. I tried everything to get him off drugs -even buying us a lovely flat together, but nothing worked. Heroin had a grip over him and he just couldn't stop doing what he was doing. I saw having a baby as our last chance but not even that worked. Paul promised ''I'll get clean this time." Instead I ended up having a breakdown and I joined him on the heroin when I was six weeks pregnant. I know it sounds crazy but I was feeling very worried and anxious about our futures and the bin liner of unpaid bills. I couldn't beat Paul so I joined him. I risked everything by trying a drug I knew would only lead to squalor, never mind my own self-respect as a mother-to-be. I don't know what I was thinking about. I remember watching Paul smoking heroin and something inside seemed to snap. Striding into the living room I demanded he let me have a go. Paul was reluctant especially as I was carrying our child but he just wasn't in his right mind and wasn't in control of his own life so how could he stop me. As I drew on it I felt instantly nauseous. I finished it, and then dashed to the loo to throw up. But afterwards I couldn't believe how calm it made me feel; all my fears floated away. The next day I was disgusted with myself and swore, 'never again'. Naively, I thought I could control heroin, but just 3 days later I took it again.
Our bills weren't being paid and all sorts of companies and people were after us for money and we just couldn't pay any of them because we needed all our money for heroin. By the time our daughter Seren was born our home was repossessed because we hadn't been paying the mortgage repayments and we had both lost our jobs as data processors. We had run up huge debts on my credit cards buying things we needed for the baby and couldn't repay them. Everyone was after us for money. As I cradled my baby in my arms in the hospital, I felt a desperate fear for the future. I had no one to turn to. My parents, dad's a retired policeman and mum's a schoolteacher, had always been so proud of me but I was too ashamed to tell them about our addiction to heroin and I had no close friends to confide in. Every morning when I got up I would have to get stoned just so that I could look after Seren, it got to the point that heroin just took my aches and pains away and made me feel normal. Over the next year my drug problem spiralled out of control, as Paul's had done. We slipped into a routine, I'd see to Seren in the morning while Paul was out buying drugs, usually with money I'd borrowed from my parents. In the afternoon, while our baby slept, we'd get stoned. Sometimes I would take her to the mums and toddlers group, stoned. It's a miracle no one ever phoned social services, something I now thank God for. I hardly slept or ate and my weight dropped to under 7 stone. I didn't care that I looked a mess, I only cared about heroin. One day I broke down in tears and told my mum that Paul was a heroin addict but I was far too ashamed to confess I was too. She was horrified but admitted that she had had her suspicions however she was also incredibly supportive and came round with bags of shopping and food, nappies and clothes for Seren.
We finally got a letter saying our flat in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was being repossessed and I was declared bankrupt. Altogether I owed £35,000 - £22,800 on the mortgage and £12,000 on my credit cards plus unpaid bills. It was only then that I confessed to my parents that I was a junkie too. I thought they'd disown me but again they came to my aid. While we waited for a council house I took Seren home to my parents' and Paul went to live with his mum. I knew I had to stop taking heroin and decided to go 'cold turkey'. It was horrendous. My body would go into spasms; sometimes I was so stiff I couldn't move. It was thousands of times worse than the worst flu you can imagine. I'd scream out for the relief only heroin could give me while mum and dad took it in turns to see to Seren. It worked. After three weeks both Paul and I had kicked the drugs and we moved back in together. But over the next six months our drug problem snowballed again until it was costing us nearly £600 a week. We reached a point that we knew that we just couldn't carry on. Poor little Seren would never have anything in life unless we did something to sort ourselves out. Paul's mum was a Christian and when Paul was younger he use to go to church but always rebelled and kicked against it because he wanted to be with his mates and be accepted. Unfortunately, going to church wasn't accepted as being very 'cool'. We asked Paul's mum if we could go to church with her, we had nowhere else to turn. We went to a little Pentecostal church in a village called Grimethorpe in South Yorkshire, where there was a lady Pastor there called Pastor Joy. We instantly liked her and we really tried to open ourselves up to God but as you can imagine it was quite difficult at times because we were either rattling when we were there or stoned. But God knew our hearts and knew that we were sincere and really wanted to get off heroin and get our lives sorted out. A group of lads called The Evidence came to our church and Paul and me went to see them and were completely in shock. All these young men had been drug addicts and alcoholics and were now going around churches singing, testifying and helping others like Paul and myself. We applied to go to a Christian Rehabilitation Centre called Teen Challenge which was a 12-month programme, I knew it wouldn't be easy leaving Seren behind as she was only 19 months old at this time but all I knew was that I believed in God and something inside me told me that everything would be alright.
We were obedient to what God wanted and went to Teen Challenge. I went to Hope House in Gorslas, South Wales and Paul went to Wilkerson House in London. It was hard being apart after living together for almost ten years but the hardest part was leaving our baby behind with our mums. I cried my eyes out for a whole week and walked about with a lump in my throat. We were obedient to what God wanted so we were blessed and Seren was allowed to come and live at Hope House with all the girls and me and as a family we were allowed to see each other three times a week. It was a lot of fun having Seren living in Hope House a lot of the girls had kids of their own and I know that it must of hurt some of them but everyone was great and Seren had lots of aunties to play with especially Rose and Debbie. I always wanted to write books and poetry and two days after my baptism God blessed me and gave me the gift to write. God has blessed Paul, Seren and myself so much. We got married when we finished the programme and Seren was our little bridesmaid. Teen Challenge opened a detox centre for men in Keighley, West Yorkshire, called The Manor so Paul went to work there. We found a lovely house and God just provided everything for us We also found a lovely church and the people and Pastor Mike really welcomed us and made us feel part of the church.
We are all doing brilliant now. Paul is in the worship team playing the drums and is one of the Youth Leaders in the church. I help run the Mother's and Toddler's Group, am one of the Sunday School Teachers and also assist Mike with the administration for the church. On top of this I work in a playgroup three mornings a week and also work in the office part-time at The Manor. So, as you can see, God keeps us very busy and being in Keighley we are only an hour away from our families in Barnsley. So to everyone who reads this testimony about what God has done in our lives I urge you to remember the ministry of Teen Challenge in your prayers and pray for all the staff and students. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.