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Sex work and drug addiction

Read the story of Claire*, who is in her early 40’s. Claire was entrenched in sex work and drug addiction for nearly a decade and explains how she found the strength to battle her addiction.

Sex Working

I first started [sex] working back in 2000 when I was 23. I’d known about drugs since I was a child but didn’t quite understand the effect they could have on people.

Before I got involved in street [sex] work I used to look out for my sister, but then I became involved with a man who introduced me to crack. I had always been curious ever since I was a child so I decided to try it and he showed me how to smoke it off a coke bottle with foil and cigarette ash.

At first, I only tried a small amount because I wasn’t sure if it was safe to do it. The next day I went home to my mums house, had a bath and felt very ill. I couldn’t keep any food down, I had a headache and stomach cramps so I decided to go out and get some more drugs.

I never considered taking heroin but within a few weeks I went from a £60 to a £200 a day crack habit, even more if I could make enough money.

After a while I met a man who introduced me fraud which gave me enough money for my habit.

My Children

I have two beautiful children and my drug addiction was due to me not seeing them and not having anything else to do.

In 2003 I was arrested for fraud; I got clean before I went to prison as I couldn’t face going cold turkey inside. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard to get clean but I had to do it. It was around this time I found out that my kids had been taken away from their dad and were asking to see me. So  I really wanted to get clean.

While I’d been taking crack my body had been slowly breaking down, at the peak of my habit I could smoke a £1000 worth of crack in a day and still want more.

I went into hospital a few times, one time it was so bad the doctors had to inject me in the neck to drain the fluid from my stomach. My mum was there crying so I decided enough was enough. I went back with her and she looked after me. I stayed in the spare room away from my family as I didn’t want them to see me like that.

I started to make contact with my children but it was very hard as their father had told them, and social services, that I was dead. My son was especially hard to get close to as I hadn’t seen him in such a long time. My daughter was very affectionate but still didn’t quite know that I was her mum.

I fought my addiction and the system to get access to my children on a regular basis. In the end it was too hard for my son and we stopped contact but I see my daughter once a month and she understands now that I am her mum.

My Life Now

Life is still a struggle for me but I’m keeping on resisting slipping back into my old life to be strong for my daughter as she is the main reason I’ve stayed clean for 12 years.

MASH have supported Claire for many years. If you are a sex worker and have similar issues with addiction or you are estranged from your family MASH may be able to support you. You can ring our number or pop into our Drop-In Centre to chat to our friendly Case Workers. 

*Names have been changed

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