I grew up in a rough neighbourhood in Easter house, Glasgow. Our entertainment as young kids was watching the rival gangs fight on the football pitches-both terrifying and exciting. I had my first cigarette behind the shed in school at the age of ten and I was still a little girl when I tried alcohol for the first time.
Our young lives revolved around adrenaline, watching gang battles, hanging out in empty houses hallucinating on acid or smoking dope. But the pressure to be one of the gang started a powerful addiction that would take me over 20 years to get out of, and nearly cost me my life.
At 17 I met my partner of that time and together we tried heroin. We thought we were all grown up, but really we were still kids just giving into peer pressure. My partner realised the road his life was taking and joined the army to get away. I was young and in love, so we got married and I moved down to England to be with him. But heroin already had its claws in me and after six weeks I walked out on him and fled back to Scotland. I was pregnant and my daughter Claire was only 5lbs when she was born in December 1984-probably because of the drugs.
Even though I now had a baby daughter to look after I couldn’t give up the heroin and struggled to keep a child and a drug habit. A few years later I became pregnant again and in another relationship. This time Nicole was born addicted to heroin and had to go through a detox. It was the most agonising thing to watch; she went through fits and convulsions as her body struggled to get rid of the poison. When my partner was put in jail soon after her birth I decided my mother could give the girls a better life than I could- so I gave them up to go on to the streets and support my habit.
I was only 21-a prostitute mixing with dangerous drug dealers and low-lifes. I had relationships with dealers who gave me everything I thought I needed-drugs, clothes, money and jewellery-but not the love I really craved. I was never happy. After eight years id had enough and gave it up. I fled to Ayrshire; I hoped to make a new start. I was a regular at drop-in centres and woman’s aid groups. I was blindly searching for a way out but in my head I still didn’t have a problem. I was put on methadone and began abusing alcohol. My weight rose to 15 stone, I was paranoid, coughing up blood, and my veins collapsed so that I nearly lost my leg. I was hospitalised with hepatitis but still couldn’t see what I was doing to myself.
It was then the nurses came to me and said; Lorraine, do you know that you are killing yourself? I just shook my head and said I didn’t care. They gave me three month to live. Shortly after this I went into a drop-in centre and asked if I could see a bereavement counsellor because my brother had died of a drug overdose. I met John Hamilton, an evangelist who worked at the centre. He asked me if I knew that God loved me. I didn’t. He asked me if he could try and get me a place at a Christian rehabilitation centre called Hope House in Wales, run by Teen Challenge. The day when I was to find out if I could go, I waited in a phone box in the pouring rain. John took me to the centre in March 2000, but I was gravely ill.
In hospital they said I had advanced cirrhosis of the liver, low platelet count and failed kidneys. I’d need a liver transplant to survive but they were unwilling to put me on the transplant list until I proved I could stay off drugs. Amazingly, from my hospital bed the Hope House staff made me realise there was a reason to live. I poured over their literature and the Bible which they gave me. They taught me to pray and slowly the colour started coming back into my cheeks. “Just days later I was back I was back at the centre where staff just shook their heads in disbelief. I found the strength to start the programme and each time I returned for hospital check-ups, doctors were amazed at the change in me. The doctor said ‘I see different circumstances and different cases every day and I don’t know what to say to you Lorraine, you blow my mind’. I told him that this wasn’t his work; this was the Lords work and his eyes filled with tears.
I graduated from the bible-study programme in September 2001 and have been clean since the day I arrived at Hope House. My daughters Claire 18 and Nicole 16 are back in my life and Nicole is now living with me. We’re going through some tough times and I’m trying to rebuild a relationship with them. It will take time but I know we will get there. I live each day as the Lord wants me to and work with addicts and prostitutes on the Teen Challenge bus in Glasgow. At 38, my life is full and I’ve finally found the love and acceptance I was looking for. I want everyone to see what the power of prayer has done in my life – and to know there is hope. God has restored my family back to me and he is restoring my health and my dreams.
I was married at City Gates Christian Centre in London to Jay on August 2003 and we are now living in Glasgow where I continue to work on the Teen Challenge bus. My husband Jay works in a supporting housing unit just outside Glasgow called The Haven, which has close links to Teen Challenge and also deals primarily with addicts and others with life controlling problems.