Margaret’s story

My name is Margaret. I am 57 years old, married and have three adult children. The family life I have created for my family could not be more different to the family life I experienced as a child.

My Mum started to drink alcohol when I was seven years old. Her dependency quickly took hold, changing everything that had felt safe up until that point in my childhood. I had to grow up very quickly. I took care of many of my own needs, both emotional and physical. My Mum’s addiction caused a great deal of conflict at home and in many ways robbed me, my brother and my sister of our childhood. Although I was young, I understood the “secret” our family was keeping and the shame and stigma that kept us locked into that secret. There were times when I tentatively tested the water by speaking to a teacher, but it wasn’t a secret anyone at that time wanted to hear. I was fearful that if I told, the world would crash in around me, sadly this fear was replaced with the fear and reality that no one would really help me. It seemed my voice was too little to be heard.

Sadly, as a result of her addiction my mum died when I was 28 years old. Any bereavement is hard to bear, but the difficulty of a death shrouded in stigma and shame both complicates the grieving process and creates a barrier to the support that is needed.

I have been motived by my life experience to help others who may be experiencing something similar and to raise awareness whenever I can.

Through my life experience and my volunteering, I am all too aware of the continuing need to help families affected by someone’s drug or alcohol use. I am pleased to be able to offer my continued support to Adfam by being part of the LEAG group. Volunteering with Adfam as part of the BEAD project and as an event speaker has helped me to amplify my voice and I would now like to do all I can to amplify the voice of others.