Sarah shares her inspiring story

Published Thursday 24 May 2018 at 12:27

It is no understatement to say that Sarah Subhani has turned her life around – from substance misuse to award winner.

She has transformed her life since accessing support from one of the council’s commissioned services which are provided by the local substance misuse provider Change Grow Live (CGL) Inspire.

Sarah is now a peer mentor with CGL Inspire, helping other people to change their lives too, and was named Woman of the Year at the recent awards ceremony held by the community group Once Voice Blackburn.

Here is her story:

I used substances to self-medicate my manic depression for fifteen years. I had never addressed my substance misuse, just the mental health side of my actions. My use of substances included cocaine, painkillers and alcohol.

I hid a lot of my problems, not just due to being ashamed but because I was a 40 year old Asian woman and my problems were religiously and culturally taboo in my community. After an alcohol relapse a couple of years ago, I found myself becoming more dependent. I then started having seizures.

My life was chaotic; I was a mother to three children, my partner threw me out of the house and my mother, who is a strict Muslim, locked me in the house in an attempt to help me – even though she was advised that this was harmful by a doctor.

I ran away from my mother’s house with no shoes or money and spent the next few months living on the streets where I thought I would die. Eventually, my ex-partner found me and all I remember is waking up in a detox centre. I then went into rehab, which I hated, but I was told to try Inspire [Change Grow Live’s free and confidential drug and alcohol service] on my release as a support network.

I was very nervous and ashamed going to Change Grow Live’s group sessions at first. At the time I was the only woman.

I had a lot of issues that needed dealing with, which had been put on hold while I was in rehab, like court cases and appointments with social services and probation. The staff not only helped me with these but also supported me through a time that would have otherwise rendered me to use again.

I was six months abstinent when I arrived at Inspire but I asked to do all the foundation group sessions. While on these, I was asked if I wanted to train as a peer mentor. After 15 weeks I became a peer mentor and I now facilitate a couple of groups at Inspire which I love.

I do some outreach work and community work. I am also in my first year of an alcohol and substance misuse degree.

While at Inspire, I was asked to help out on a BME community project. The project aimed to open up the subject of addiction within the South Asian community: addiction was becoming a problem but because it is a culturally taboo subject, people were not asking for help.

As part of the project, I filmed a video for Change Grow Live and One Voice’s website but unfortunately none of the other five service users turned up because they were ashamed or scared. When the video went live – receiving 1. 5 million hits – it was just me telling my story.

The video was picked up by two newspapers without my knowledge. I first found out when two Asian men threw a paper at my face while I was out shopping. I did have some abuse from the community, but I have also had so many people coming to Inspire asking to talk to about their addiction.

I have had women come to service because of me, especially a few Asian women who have told me that I am their inspiration. The women from One Voice’s women’s network group have also been so supportive and I now see them as friends. They were the ones who honoured me with the award.

My life is so much better since I arrived at Inspire and, most of all, I now feel accepted by a community.

This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.