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Chloe - Interview 04

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Chloe smoked weed every day from the age of twelve in order to cope with her dad's death. Counselling didn't work for her but she turned her life around when she started a positive coaching programme designed to assist young people with drug problems. Chloe hasn't smoked weed or done drugs for about four years.
Background: Chloe works with young people with complex and special educational needs. She lives at home with her mother and younger sister. Ethnic background: mixed other.

More about me...

Chloe tried her first cigarette and spliff (cannabis cigarette) by the age of twelve and started to smoke weed heavily. Drugs were easily available on the council estate she lived on. She would bunk off school to smoke weed. Her mum was a working single parent who didn’t have much money or time for her.
 
Chloe was kicked out of school for misbehaving but was allowed back in after making up a story about being bullied. She first tried ecstasy when she was about fifteen, but didn’t try cocaine until she had left school. She left school without any GCSEs, as she had spent most of her time high on weed. Chloe smoked weed every day from the age of twelve in order to cope with the feelings about her dad’s death. Smoking cannabis made her paranoid, and she also was later diagnosed with body dimorphic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The cannabis made matters worse – her problems were still there when she wasn’t high. She had also been self-harming since she was about eight, which got worse after her dad died.
 
When she left school she had a boyfriend who wanted her to sort her life out. She gave up drugs, and hasn’t smoked weed or done drugs for about four years. It wasn’t easy – giving up drugs, the lifestyle, the habit, and giving up friends. She became involved with an organisation that helps young people with drug problems, through her involvement with a choir. She became more aware of her appearance and how she was seen by ther people. She began to sort herself out, and did a drug awareness course, which opened her eyes to the effects of drugs and what they were doing to her body. She learned about drug culture – how drugs fund sex trafficking, people trafficking, etc.

After volunteering with the organisation for six months, she wrote a report on how services can improve to help young people. She started to have more respect for herself, and became more aware of how drug culture holds down deprived areas, like the council estate she grew up on. She lived in South Africa for three months doing volunteering  work in shanty towns with alcohol and drug issues.
 
Chloe thinks that her school teachers didn’t have the ability to engage with young people on issues affecting them. They weren’t aware of the culture that was developing amongst young people because it changes a lot in a short period, and especially drug culture. Young people were trying things that the adults had no experience of.

 

 

Chloe’s older sister smoked hash at home and it seemed to have a calming effect on her.

Chloe’s older sister smoked hash at home and it seemed to have a calming effect on her.

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She smoked hash which is the brown rock form of cannabis. Which actually, it doesn’t make you as high as the skunk form of cannabis but yeah even to this day I associate that smell with home because from when I was young, that was what I could smell at home, it's a comforting smell to me. 
 
So you took it because you were curious about what your older sister was doing or?
 
I just thought it was normal. I just thought because she was doing it it was like cigarettes. It was just something else that people did and it was just normal. There wasn’t any. There wasn’t ever a problem with my sister doing it. It wasn’t ever looked upon in front of me as something you shouldn’t be doing. It was like a positive maybe because she, she sort of. I can see that when she. Because she was quite a fiery person. She’s quite a fiery character and her and my mum always used to argue.
 
And I observed that when she did smoke it she was a much calmer, nicer person. So I saw it as a good thing that it did make a positive impact on her. I also did notice that when she didn’t have it she was fiery again because she didn’t have it.
 
And your mum, what was your mum’s attitude at that time when she was smoking cannabis or skunk at home?
 
Quite liberal. She didn’t really see it as much as a problem either. Yeah I think that’s a general thing as well maybe in more so in like a council estate area, low income, yeah education levels and stuff. It’s just seen as a, it’s not a hard drug. It’s not a problem. It’s just a bit of skunk. It’s just a spliff. It’s not really a big problem. That’s the general idea around it. 
 

Chloe found that cannabis helped her to think about and deal with her problems in an unemotional...

Chloe found that cannabis helped her to think about and deal with her problems in an unemotional...

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And when I left school I didn’t have any GCSEs because I’d spent most of my time high. I couldn’t remember anything either. Throughout my younger childhood with my dad I think I did have a selective memory as well because there were some things I really didn’t want to remember. And then cannabis helped me with that as well. I would say that was the main reason I started smoking it because with smoking cannabis you can think about the problem but it doesn’t connect to the emotion in your stomach.
 
Again what were your main motivations to do that? Why did you try them?
 
That was curiosity I’d say, definitely curiosity. With ecstasy was curiosity. I did my first, first pill at carnival, Notting Hill Carnival and I’m not going to lie it was the best carnival I’ve ever had. I’m not going to deny that the feeling of being on ecstasy is an amazing feeling but it’s so amazing that I’m never going to do it again because otherwise I won’t leave it alone kind of thing [laugh]. So I just leave it over there. 
 

Chloe liked the feeling she got from ecstasy but the comedowns from it put her off from doing it...

Chloe liked the feeling she got from ecstasy but the comedowns from it put her off from doing it...

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Again what were your main motivations to do that? Why did you try them?
 
That was curiosity I’d say, definitely curiosity. With ecstasy was curiosity. I did my first, first pill at carnival, Notting Hill Carnival and I’m not going to lie it was the best carnival I’ve ever had. I’m not going to deny that the feeling of being on ecstasy is an amazing feeling but it’s so amazing that I’m never going to do it again because otherwise I won’t leave it alone kind of thing [laugh]. So I just leave it over there.
 
Can you elaborate more on that one. How many, for how long did you do it?
 
I wasn’t really using ecstasy every day or anything like that. It was here and there because the come down was so awful that you just felt the roof of your mouth was so sore. Your joints and body would ache, your jaw that could ache where it had been stuck like that because that’s what it does. Yeah and then I’d see some pictures of the night before and stuff and my eyes were like... and I looked like this and it’s just really bad [laugh].
 
I didn’t do that too often.
 
Ok so the come downs were quite?
 
Yeah they was bad. And plus my older sisters had always made. My older sisters had done them and they used to tell me stories of my dad making them after going to a rave and getting back at 6 in the morning pilling out of their faces. He used to make them sit in a chair in front of him and they had to come down there and learn their lesson. ‘You want to go and do that you’re going to sit there and you’re not going to go to sleep or [dda dda dda dda da]. You’re going to feel what you did last night kind of thing. Even though the best thing is to go to sleep, drink water, revive yourself and refresh your body. But that’s not what he did. I’d always heard of them talking about it but at the time I did actually feel like ecstasy was more of a sort of. I looked at it as a scummy drug. Like it had a stigma around it that only low life people did that kind of thing. And I didn’t see myself as low life even though on the outside perspective I probably was. Well I wasn’t but that would be people’s perceptions from an outside perspective, yeah.
 
 

Chloe thinks it’s important to educate people on the scientific evidence about drugs. She‘s not sure where she stands on the legalisation of cannabis.

Chloe thinks it’s important to educate people on the scientific evidence about drugs. She‘s not sure where she stands on the legalisation of cannabis.

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At some point you said there is this lack of information to young people. That some drugs are not as harmful if they are taken or if they’re used in small quantities. Do you want to add something else about that?
 
I mean well it has, that kind of thing needs to be allowed to be made available because even just recently the head of the drugs scientific advisor in parliament being sacked because he said exactly that same thing. And they just didn’t like it. And I think with those sort of things and policies like that they’re more conscious about keeping a certain group of people happy. It’s coming across that they’re trying to do the right thing rather than what would actually be the right thing to do. Because I mean there’s a lot of people that, whether it be cannabis or heroin you’re a druggy, that’s it. Like it doesn’t matter like cannabis doesn’t do this and heroin’s like it is. They are all drugs and you are scummy dirty druggy. You’re from a council estate and.
 
There’s a lot of limiting beliefs around drugs that need to be lifted because it’s only when you can educate people properly that you can do that. Because it wouldn’t be. Like could you imagine like say for example a mum sitting with their kids and an advert came on saying, ‘Smoking one splif of cannabis isn’t actually going to kill you. If you take 3 pulls and put it down then you can monitor your own buzz and when you feel ok again take another 3 pulls.’ That would be like saying, ‘It’s ok to do that’ like it’s alright to take 3 pulls and put it down. Because people will interpret it differently depending on where they’ve come from. So there’s a lot of things around that. I don’t know how you could go about that.
 
But people need to start being open-minded about drugs I think because it’s not the. Drugs have been around from the beginning of time for millions and millions of years.
 
I don’t think that it (cannabis) is as harmful as some of the other drugs but the long term I think it is a very big problem because young people these days they don’t just use moderately. They don’t moderately use it. They are smoking it every day. They are smoking three to four spliffs every single day. And more young people are using it because of other media influences and things like that. And the cannabis itself that they’re smoking is a lot stronger because now it will be hard to find that hard rock hash form because everyone is smoking skunk and skunk is mostly chemicals. So yeah it’s a lot stronger and I do think it’s bad now. I mean I don’t think that. I think that it should be maybe. Well I don’t know where I stand on it because if it was made legal then it would be seen as to be, ‘Oh it’s ok you’re allowed to smoke it’. But where it is illegal it’s not being regulated. People are putting anything in it.  
 

Chloe describes what happened when she got arrested for shoplifting and had to spend time in a...

Chloe describes what happened when she got arrested for shoplifting and had to spend time in a...

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So at that time your mum was really concerned about you and she has already noticed that you were doing more than sort of smoking cannabis
 
Yeah because I was going out shoplifting all the time.
 
Ok.
 
I had, I used to get a new full outfit from head to toe every weekend that I never bought. So yeah [laugh].
 
Were you ever caught?
 
Once I was caught.
 
Ok what happened?
 
And I just got a, what did they call it, I can’t remember but it’s on my record anyway. It is on my record.
 
You, you got a caution?
 
Yeah it was a caution yeah, a caution yeah.
 
And were you taken to a police station or
 
Yeah. I was in the police station for a while. I was in there for, in the cell for 8 hours I think, yeah.
 
Do you want to tell me more about that experience?
 
Yeah I don’t mind. It was with a group of friends [cough] we went, we should have been in school. So we were so dumb because it was quite obvious we was of school age and wasn’t in school in school time. And we all went to our local shopping area and yes we just had everything and anything in our bags. There was loads of us as well, about 12, well not loads about 12. Had a load of stuff and I had clocked the security guards first because I’m that one that’s always, [laugh] looking out for stuff and so I said, ‘I’m staying here. You lot can walk out that door and get caught’. And I went to go out that other door and they pinned me up against the wall and like it was so embarrassing. People that I knew was walking past and I was pinned up against this wall and because I was cocky I tried to run off and they pinned me and grips me back on the wall. And yeah and then I was taken down the cells because I. They could see at the time that I self-harmed. They took off all my jewellery and my hair clips and my shoes, everything. And my mum said. My mum was at work at the time when she got the phone call and her work told her to go and get me. And she was like, ‘No she can stay there. She has to learn her lesson.’ And so I was there for ages and yeah when she came. Like because she’s quite expressive but she gave me the worst thing in the world which was the silent treatment. When she came to get me she didn’t look at me. She didn’t even acknowledge me. She pointed to the door of the car to get in. 
 

Chloe says that she can’t allow herself to take any drugs because she is too obsessive to use them in moderation. She prefers to experience life naturally.

Chloe says that she can’t allow herself to take any drugs because she is too obsessive to use them in moderation. She prefers to experience life naturally.

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And if you can think of two reasons or your main reasons why you don’t want to do drugs any more what would those reasons be?
 
My main reasons would be because I would prefer to experience life through my natural mind state and be high of life and not need anything that’s not already within my body to make me feel good about it or to have a good time or to feel relaxed or whatever it is. I can come to that feeling within myself without anything else. That’s why one reason.
 
And two, because although obviously in moderate use some things won’t harm you, I do have a very compulsive and obsessive personality and moderate use isn’t something that I can do.
 
 

When Chloe stopped using drugs and changed the way she acted and talked, some friends were supportive but others accused her of trying to be something that she’s not.

When Chloe stopped using drugs and changed the way she acted and talked, some friends were supportive but others accused her of trying to be something that she’s not.

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How did your friends at that time react when you started changing and sort of looking at your life from another?
 
It was kind of mixed. At the time it was like, ‘Ah she thinks that she’s too good for us now. She thinks she’s too hot. Why are you trying to be something that you’re not?’ kind of thing. But there was a mixture of like, ‘Good for you’ as well kind of keep it up. And now even those same people from school whenever I’ve seen them, it’s the worst thing like. So if I do go down the pub on a Saturday night or something for a couple of drinks and there will be people from school saying, ‘You’ve done so well. I remember you. [dah, de dah, de dah] I see your Facebook pictures in Africa.’ And I have to sit there for like half an hour listening to this drunk person tell me all that. ‘I remember you. You’ve done so well. I always look at your Facebook statuses. There so inspirational.’ [laugh] Like that’s what it is like now.
 
But at the time it was kind of like, ‘Why are you trying to be something that you’re not?’ Even the way I talk now I talk a lot better now. Before I used to talk. Can’t even do it anymore. Like you know that proper like Wild One like a rude girl definitely. Wild One is a patois, Jamaican say. But like, like this though, like that kind of talking, you know that taking the mick kind of young person talk. That’s how I used to talk. But now obviously I know that it’s not.
 
I think that pronouncing words is an art. You take time to make sure you pronounce your words properly and that’s what I like to do. But at the time there were like, ‘Why are you trying to be something that you’re not?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m whoever I want to be’ [laugh]. 
 

Chloe did the Drug Awareness course run by In-volve and then became a member of their staff.

Chloe did the Drug Awareness course run by In-volve and then became a member of their staff.

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Tell me a little bit more about Involve Are they a national organisation or a London-based organisation?
 
Yeah Involve is a national organisation. Most of our services are within London but we do have ones in Bath and Birmingham and we’re looking to also spread to other places. They’re originally a drugs treatment service but have always specialised around working with young people. Yeah they do drugs treatment, drugs education and then they also do alternative education. So those other things like the music production, journalism, media, you can do volunteering NVQ. 
 
So you are volunteering with them or?
 
I get, I work with them. I’m a member of their team so I get paid for teaching the Drugs Awareness course which. When I did the course it was an OCN accredited learning course but I’ve rewritten the course myself and now I’ve mapped it to an NCFE qualification so it’s the equivalent to a GCSE. And that’s what I teach. I wrote the course and now teach it.
 
I joined In-volve which was in the December when I was 17. So I did the drugs awareness course that I teach now. I did that course and it opened my mind to what the effects of the drugs were and how it was actually working on my body and drugs culture as well. And like what the bigger picture of what drugs fund like sex trafficking, people trafficking and sex trafficking Taliban and things like that, 93% of heroin and stuff. And so that definitely helped. 
 
 

Chloe found it unhelpful that her counsellor kept talking about the past. She just wanted to move on with her life.

Chloe found it unhelpful that her counsellor kept talking about the past. She just wanted to move on with her life.

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And the counsellors themselves just really got on my nerves. I did not like their approach. Obviously I know the counsellors are there to ask you questions and kind of help you come to the answers yourself within you. And to go over the past, they just wanted to keep going over why I was like I was. And I really didn’t want to know or care. I just wanted coaching probably would have sorted, helped me a lot more than counselling because I just wanted to step forwards. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to get over what had happened and move forward. And they just kept on diving into what had happened and putting it at the forefront of my head. And so it couldn’t go away. I couldn’t deal with it because they kept on talking about it. But I just wanted to leave it where it was and move on.
 

Chloe’s boyfriend told her she wasn’t the same person when she was high and, though she found it...

Chloe’s boyfriend told her she wasn’t the same person when she was high and, though she found it...

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Who was helping you at that time?

My boyfriend and me really because I told the people that I worked with that I had given up during the course but I hadn’t. I was still smoking when I was volunteering so when it was actually time to give up I didn’t tell them about it because they already thought I had. So yeah but they know this now [laugh]. But at the time so yeah it was just me really.
 
So your boyfriend was the main sort of support?
 
Yeah because obviously he was like, I can’t communicate with you when you’re high. You’re not the same person. You’re becoming skinny. You don’t look the same. Your eyes are sunk in. I love you for you but I love you so much that I want you to stop this and improve yourself’ kind of thing.
 
So how did you end up with a boyfriend who was not doing drugs? Was against drugs?
 
I don’t know. We’re not together anymore actually. We split up not that long ago. It’s quite complicated. But I don’t know. He’s very healthy as well. Plays football, goes to the gym every single day, eats healthily. I like to think just because I was a nice person. [laugh] Yeah. 
 

Chloe claims that schools don’t want to admit their pupils are taking illegal drugs.

Chloe claims that schools don’t want to admit their pupils are taking illegal drugs.

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I think one point is that at that time school teachers didn’t have the ability to engage with young people on issues that were really affecting them. And they didn’t, weren’t really aware of the culture that was developing amongst young people because the culture has changed a lot even within the last 15 years and drugs culture as well. There’s ten times more drugs on the street than there was 10, 15 years ago. And it was a thing where young people were trying things that the adults hadn’t tried. Whereas before the adults would have tried it and could pass on what they’d experienced but in the last 10, 15 years the young people were experiencing these things and the older people couldn’t relate to that. So they didn’t know what to look for. They didn’t know those sorts of things.
 
Also I think that is because and it’s still, I think, now where some schools don’t want it to look like they have a drugs problem in their school. So they will keep it under the carpet and do a minimal. I mean there’s a big thing now, I know, because I work in schools and do different things where the government is pushing for that and they want like workshops and things like that. But in my school they didn’t want to address, they didn’t want to say, ‘Right we’ve got a drug problem here.’ And my school had a very big drug problem as well.
 
Ok but they didn’t want to acknowledge that?
 
They didn’t seem like it no. They wanted to stop you disrupting the class so that they could tick the boxes for the most A to C level GCSEs but they didn’t want to address why you were disrupting a class. 
 

Chloe experienced chest pains after nights out where she mixed cannabis, cocaine and alcohol.

Chloe experienced chest pains after nights out where she mixed cannabis, cocaine and alcohol.

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Were you using more than one drug at a time for instance if you were at a party or
 
Yes I was at a party I would be drinking alcohol. For me I call alcohol a drug because it has some worse effects than some drugs. For me a drug is any substance that alters your body’s natural functions. So yeah alcohol, I’d be drinking alcohol. I would smoke a spliff and be on coke. So yeah.
 
How did you feel there? The morning after?
 
Horrible, disgusting, just wanted to shrivel up in a ball. Oh it was the worst feeling, horrible. And I used to get chest pains as well because obviously cocaine is a stimulant so it makes you fast and alcohol and cannabis are depressants so I could sometimes feel like my heart was pushing differently like it was working against something, I could physically feel that.
 
So you were. Were you concerned at that time or?
 
Yeah I was concerned but I just pushed it to the back of my mind.
 
 

Chloe used to bunk off school so she could smoke weed.

Chloe used to bunk off school so she could smoke weed.

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Yeah so back then I used to constantly be high. I didn’t engage in school. I used to bunk school just to go and smoke weed. Because my mum was a single parent at the time and didn’t have much money. She was working so also I didn’t really see her too much either. So I was a bit left to do what I was doing. But I did make up a story and they let me back in after three months because I said that it was an older person that had given it to me to hold and I’d been bullied into it. But that wasn’t true. And yeah I carried on using after that. I didn’t try anything else until I was probably in Year 10 or 11. And in my memory it, to me I know that it is Year 10 or 11 but I remember it as not being at school because I didn’t attend school very much. 
 

Chloe’s advice is to educate yourself about drugs, don't just get the information from friends.

Chloe’s advice is to educate yourself about drugs, don't just get the information from friends.

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Well firstly before you do anything make sure that you are educated and informed correctly. Don’t take any friend’s word for it or anything like that because they don’t necessarily know what they are talking about. Whether it be your parents or not they might have their own reasons for telling you what they’ve told you.
 
Secondly that it will make your problems worse if that’s the reason you are taking it for. When you’re not high or drunk they’re still going to be there at the end of the day.
 
And thirdly and most importantly if you never try something you’ll never miss it.
 
 

Chloe’s mum never seemed to notice she was taking ecstasy even when she used it at home.

Chloe’s mum never seemed to notice she was taking ecstasy even when she used it at home.

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Ok so did your mum realise that you were taking ecstasy and things like that or?
 
No she never, never noticed that. I remember one time I did it for no reason. Like because to start with I would do it and then I would start cleaning my bedroom and things like that. And then after that I sort of thought, ‘No that’s a bit loose don’t do that. I’ll just do it if I’m going to a party or going to a rave or something because of the buzz that it is. You’re like you need to dance and stuff. You’re in ecstasy. So yeah. But she still never noticed. I did hide that from her.
 
 

Chloe's mother's first response was denial. She later tried everything to stop her taking drugs from grounding her to hitting her.

Chloe's mother's first response was denial. She later tried everything to stop her taking drugs from grounding her to hitting her.

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How did she (mother) react when she noticed that you were taking money from her purse?
 
At first I think that she was in denial. She didn’t want to believe it. And then I mean like, I don’t know, I wasn’t controllable. Like most people say, ‘Oh you’ve got to blame the parents. They need to let‘. 
 
But my mum did try, like she tried to lock me in the house' grounding me, taking things away from me, sitting down, talking with me, hitting me. Everything she tried but I don’t know it was because of the grade, because of the cannabis and because of how I was. I was just [zzzz, zzzz] in my head. It was [zzzzz] I’m going out even if I have to climb down the drainpipe, kind of thing. And I did climb down a drainpipe. And so yeah.
 
 

Chloe’s older sister smoked cannabis at home and for Chloe the smell was something soothing and...

Chloe’s older sister smoked cannabis at home and for Chloe the smell was something soothing and...

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I think I probably had tried my first cigarette and spliff as well. I think I was 11 or 12. Come Year 7 I started heavily using after my dad passed away. 
 
For me as well in my area it was quite easily accessible because I live on a council estate. I could get anything in a phone call, ten minutes up the road and anything as well. And it just was like a normal thing really and it’s becoming more of a normal thing for people as well. 
 
 
Who gave you your first cannabis/cigarette?
 
I remember actually to this day the smell of hash so there’s cannabis but there’s skunk form which is the high form and hash which is the rock form. Weed which is a bit more. 
 
She [sister] smoked hash which is the brown rock form of cannabis. Which actually, it doesn’t make you as high as the skunk form of cannabis but yeah even to this day I associate that smell with home because from when I was young that was what I could smell at home. So it’s a comforting smell to me.
 
 
 
 

Chloe smoked cannabis every day from the age of 12 to 16 and thinks it made her emotional problems worse.

Chloe smoked cannabis every day from the age of 12 to 16 and thinks it made her emotional problems worse.

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Did it make you feel better or?
 
No it most definitely never made me feel better. It was like, it was like a cycle really because obviously with smoking cannabis you get paranoid and I had body dismorphic disorder so I would wear three pairs of tracksuit bottoms underneath my jeans every single day come rain or shine, hot summer because I physically felt like I could not get out the door without it because I perceived my body to be looking in a different way than what it was.
 
I used to fill out my bra and I used to wear loads and loads of makeup. And I’m not embarrassed to say those things now. Before if anyone found out it would be the end of my world like I just wanted to shrivel up and die. And I did used to self-harm as well. But yeah I just perceived myself looking different to what I did.
 
I also have OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] so if I think about something I will obsess about it, cleaning. It’s still there now at the moment but I sort of trained myself to not do certain things. Like if something’s not on a perfect corner I’ll push it so that it’s not in a straight line and make myself walk past it, so that sort of thing. I did go to a lot of counselling and stuff as well for that. That’s come a long way. But it didn’t help me at all. I was very paranoid in school. I thought everyone knew what was going on with me. So no it did disconnect my feelings from my hurt from my dad dying and what I’d been through with him and that side of my life. But it made things a lot worse as well, definitely a lot worse than what they could have been if I had gone through that and found a solution to dealing with that through my natural state of mind then I would have benefited a lot more but I was dazed out to the world. So when I was not high the problems were all still there again. But I would say there was a rare time amongst, from when I was 12 to 16 that I wasn’t high. I was probably high every single day, yeah.
 

Chloe found the In-volve programme helpful from the start. Their positive approach has helped Chloe turn her life around for the better.

Chloe found the In-volve programme helpful from the start. Their positive approach has helped Chloe turn her life around for the better.

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And then I joined In-volve which was in the December when I was 17. So I did the drugs awareness course that I teach now. I did that course and it opened my mind to what the effects of the drugs were and how it was actually working on my body and drugs culture as well. And like what the bigger picture of what drugs fund like sex trafficking, people trafficking and sex trafficking Taliban and things like that, 93% of heroin and stuff. And so that definitely helped.
 
And after I did that 12-week course because I sing a lot and I make music a lot so that was also an escape for me. After I did that 12-week course I stayed on with In-volve to volunteer.
 
And after volunteering with them about six, three months, sorry I had a month’s paid work where I researched all of the young people’s services within my borough. And wrote the summary for the report on how from 2008 how the services need to improve to address young people’s needs.
 
So yeah I started improving after I got with In-volve because they were so positive. They were like. I remember on my first day like they was like, ‘You’re a creative professional and don’t let no one tell you different.’ And that kind of thing to see yourself highly when you think you can do anything if you believe in yourself kind of thing. That’s when I started sorting myself out.
 
You said that you were referred. Who referred you there?
 
I can’t remember now. I know that I was one Navigator because I wanted to do music because the music it was my passion for, always has been, always will be kind of thing. I sang all day long. Made music all day long and [ah] that’s what I wanted to do. Once I got the sack from [name] I was like, I’m not doing anything else. I want to be famous, [laugh] that kind of thing. And they said, ‘Oh there’s a course down [da deda de dah], there that has a music production course. You can make your own music and they also have a record label attached to their organisation. So I was like, yes I want to do that! And luckily, coincidentally they had a drugs course as well which was exactly what I needed. So that’s how that happened.
 
So after you got involved with In-volve you started turning yourself around.
 
Yeah definitely and I started having more respect for myself. I sort of became more aware of how drugs culture holds down deprived areas, like the bigger picture like. Now I look at my estate and not that I think I’m above in any way. It’s more of a sort of nurturing look on it, how I see it. I can see that they take drugs to escape from their problems to feel like this, feel like that. And it’s a never ending circle or because it’s an alternative economy. They don’t have much qualifications therefore they can’t get much work and so drugs are so easy to get hold of and you can make a lot of money from them so it’s an alternative economy for the deprived areas as well.
 
Yes then I started doing that with In-volve and started sorting myself out. 
 

Chloe argues that former users who have turned their lives around for the better are in a...

Chloe argues that former users who have turned their lives around for the better are in a...

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But I do think that young people’s services, say for example, with drugs crime I think that they should allow people that maybe have drugs convictions and so on to, if they have proven that they’ve changed their life around before the spent 5 years, because it’s an issue that I always have. My young people they want to stay on. They want to volunteer. They want to be a YOP worker but they can’t because they have these convictions. But they are the best people that can help people that have been through that kind of thing. And there is a law that they are questioning at the moment that they’re not going to let these people work with vulnerable people or with a certain criminal record. They are not going to be allowed to become social workers and I don’t think that’s right at all. People that have experienced that and know what these people are going through are the best people to work and help them through.
 
And they do have a criminal conviction because of their...?
 
From what they’ve done yeah. From whether it be they’ve been caught in possession or with a supply amount or in their house. Whatever it might be but if they, then if they’ve proved that they’re not doing it anymore, let’s say they do a drugs test and they are no longer on drugs. Their house is checked. They don’t have drugs around anymore, whatever. Whatever measures to prove that. But I don’t think that just because they’ve got that conviction that they shouldn’t be able to help people that are going through what they went through because they are the best person to help. They are the only people who will understand truly their people.
 
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