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Leah - Interview 14

Age at interview: 17
Brief Outline: Leah started drinking and taking drugs at the age of 14 with friends, and would often turn up to school drunk. At 16 she became pregnant as a result of a drunken one-night stand. Her message to other young people who drink is to be aware of the situations they can get into, and that doing drugs is silly.
Background: Leah lives on her own with her four-and-a-half month old daughter. She gave up drugs after becoming a mother, and only occasionally binge drinks, but never with her daughter. Ethnic background' White British.

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Leah started drinking at 14, mixing vodka and whisky, and smoking cannabis. She would stay out late drinking with friends to avoid going home to her mum, who was in a violent relationship. Her mum's partner was physically violent and mentally abusive towards Leah. He kicked Leah out of the house when she was 13, and she stayed with friends. The Police and Social Services got involved, as Leah wasn’t going to school much and was staying out till three in the morning drinking. When she did turn up at school, she was often drunk. At 15 she was kicked out of school, and with no place to live, she lived with an aunt for about a year and worked as a hairdresser’s apprentice.Leah left her aunt and got a Council place, where she felt uncomfortable living on her own. 
 
She would go clubbing and spend the night out. As the result of a drunken one-night stand, Leah became pregnant at sixteen. She hid the pregnancy from her family for the first six months. Before becoming pregnant she didn’t worry about becoming pregnant because she didn’t think she could. Afterwards, she became paranoid about becoming pregnant, and wants to find a suitable contraceptive. She now lives on her own with her four-and-a-half-month-old daughter. She doesn’t want to go near drugs since becoming a mum, and only occasionally binge drinks, but never with her daughter.

She says that she started drinking and taking drugs because her mates did, and because she didn’t want to face the situation at home (see also 'using drugs and alcohol to escape from problems'). She now says that drinking might block out one problem but is guaranteed to bring up another problem – you could get drunk, start an argument and lose your friends or you might have unprotected sex and get pregnant. Her advice to other young people who drink is to be aware of the situations they can get in, and that doing drugs is silly.  

 

Leah says she doesn’t use drugs because it would ruin her daughter’s life as well as her own.

Leah says she doesn’t use drugs because it would ruin her daughter’s life as well as her own.

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I wouldn’t ever go near Crack or anything like that, I would never go near that, I am not stupid enough, I know the effects of that, but now I know the effects of Cocaine, what it can do to you and stuff like that I wouldn’t go and touch that stuff again. People have said to me, “Oh do you want to again now?.” I wouldn’t do it now because I’ve got a daughter, if I didn’t have her maybe.
 
Okay so she is like ...?
 
She is like a barrier, she...
 
A barrier.
 
...stops me doing certain things.
 
Okay, so, is that it is something positive?
 
Yeah.
 
Do you mind repeating what are your reasons and motivations for not using drugs?
 
My motivation for not using drugs is because I’ve got my daughter, I am responsible for somebody else’s life, I don’t want to, it is not just mine I am going to be ruining it is hers as well. another motivation is now I have had, as far as I am concerned I have had my time, I have tried what I have tried, I have done what I have done, now it is time for me to be an adult, grow-up and get on in the real world, get a job, get a car, be driving, take her to nursery and school, I am not just a, teenage person now, I am a teenage mum, I am responsible for me and my daughter that’s mainly my motive, my motivation is because of her.
 
Not saying if you aint got motivation go and have a child [laughs] because don’t, but yeah.
 
[Laughs] okay, do you want to say more about that? [Laughs]
 
Don’t think because of what I have said that it is a good idea to have a baby because you are going to like, you have got someone there and you are never on your own and, you, do you know what I mean? You are not going to, you are going to stop doing your wild stuff because you have child because that is not always true. It is down to you whether you can motivate yourself and whether you are strong enough, because I know mums that still drink, that still do drugs, did it all throughout the pregnancy, they still do it now round their children, I know people that do that, they are not strong enough to stop doing that, it is just, you, that was just the situation I found myself in and I have learnt to deal with that, but if I could, I don’t regret her, but if I could change time I would change it so that I did it later on in life.
 
Having a child later on in life?
 
Yeah. 
 

Leah did well at school before she moved to a new area and started drinking.

Leah did well at school before she moved to a new area and started drinking.

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When I started out in school I was really good in school up until about Year Five I was top of the class, really good, had friends, but I was good. Got to the point where I changed schools, changed areas, I moved from a nice area to a rougher area and that’s when I went downhill, I started getting gobby, I started thinking I was clever, I started seeing boys, started drinking, and that’s when it all went downhill.
 
And now I am paying for it because I didn’t do well in school then I have, I have got to come back to College now when I could be working, I could be getting on with my life, I have got to go back, I have got to go back in my steps to get better grades so I can, if I had done well at school I could have just, do you know what I mean? Gone to college, done my course, then within the next year I could have been fully qualified whereas I have got to come to College here, do my GCSEs again, then I have got to go to College for another two years, it just adds on really.
 
So you didn’t take your GCSE?
 
I did several GCSEs, my IT one I refused to do, one of my Science ones I refused to do because I was on the computer I didn’t want to come off, altogether I did my Math’s, my English, one Science, DT and RE. And I got, I was predicted in my Math’s and English to get top grades, like B, A, C, B or A. I got Ds and Es and Fs in my GCSEs.
 
 

At first cocaine made her feel energetic but, after a few days of using it, Leah felt she was turning into a ‘horrible’ person and decided to quit.

At first cocaine made her feel energetic but, after a few days of using it, Leah felt she was turning into a ‘horrible’ person and decided to quit.

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But you had tried Cocaine also?
 
Yeah when I was about fifteen, I was in school, I tried Cannabis, and Cocaine. I got into Cocaine because me and my friend, she was older than me, she was a couple of years older than me, we went round to this boy’s house and he was a Drug Dealer. And he gave us some, he said, “Just try it, you don’t have to.” And I thought ‘oh wow I want to try it because it looks fun, everyone’s doing it, I want to see the effect of it’ I was just intrigued to know what it was like, so I did it and it didn’t do anything apart from make me really hyper, like really, and, it made me really energetic put it that way. then at the next day we went round there, we had some more, it got to the point where I was having more and more, I only did it for about a week and a half maximum and I did it every day, and within a week and a half I, I was getting told I was changing, I was becoming a horrible person, I could see in myself, she was my best friend at the time, we went to the chip shop, there was a woman that got served before her, no, she got served before me, yeah I was standing in front of my best friend, I turned round and smacked her round the face because she got served before me, when that happened I thought ‘I have just turned on my best friend’ I am shouting at the chip shop man, I became so aggressive that I stopped taking it just didn’t appeal to me anymore.
 
And I think now, at that time I wasn’t really aware that it can be mashed Paracetamol and, packet washing-up powder, everything is in it if, nothing here in England is a hundred percent Cocaine, it’s probably about two percent and the, other, rest of it is all stuff mixed in together, and I think if I knew the effects that, like if I knew like how much, the small percentage of it what it was back then I don’t think I would have done it, but I, it is going to sound silly but I am glad I done it because I can say, “I have done it, I have experienced it, I would not do it again.” I am lucky that I am not addicted to it or anything like that. I wouldn’t ever go near Crack or anything like that, I would never go near that, I am not stupid enough, I know the effects of that, but now I know the effects of Cocaine, what it can do to you and stuff like that I wouldn’t go and touch that stuff again. People have said to me, “Oh do you want to again now?” I wouldn’t do it now because I’ve got a daughter, if I didn’t have her maybe.
 
 

Leah got pregnant after having sex whilst drunk.

Leah got pregnant after having sex whilst drunk.

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What happened was for the past year or so I have been going to town, out clubbing and stuff like that, I spend the night out, most of the time to be fair when I go out I don’t end up waking up in my own bed. I know it sounds really bad [laughs] but it’s just the whole alcohol thing, I get to the point where I am so drunk I don’t know what I am doing, or where I am going, or where I am, and now I know I have let my limits, like I went out on Saturday, I got drunk, but I’m, I was drunk to the point where I could get myself home and do stuff, usually I would get so drunk, and I have had my drinks spiked a couple of times. When I fell pregnant it was a one night stand with a boy I knew, and we went back to his, he was a lot more drunker than me but I was still very drunk, and, I don’t know why I did it, it just didn’t click in my head that I would be pregnant, I didn’t think I would get pregnant because it hadn’t have happened before.
 
And says to me now, “I haven’t got a child.” The whole reason why I would say be careful is because girls who drink will get themselves in a situation where they might not be strong enough to cope, a bit like I wasn’t, I got myself pregnant through drinking I didn’t know what I was doing, and I found out I was pregnant and when I [slight laugh] found out I went out and got absolutely trolleyed, I went into town and got absolutely out of my face, and I did that was my way of coping with it I buried my head in the sand, and I did that until my, I did that until I was about two months, then I went to the Doctors at about nine weeks or something like that, it was about eight weeks, and they said to me, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I need to get rid of it because I can’t, none of my family will know, I haven’t got a place to live.” I went to an Abortion Clinic, they put the tablets in front of me, I couldn’t do it, so from that point onwards I got a Teenage Support Worker involved, she was offering me all these places to go and stuff like that. I didn’t answer my phone to nobody, I didn’t talk to nobody, I kept my head in the sand and I didn’t know what to do.
 
 

Leah thinks that her personality changes when she has been drinking – she becomes more aggressive...

Leah thinks that her personality changes when she has been drinking – she becomes more aggressive...

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Just that it ruin, it, like I said it, it causes more problems I think than what you are in, if you drink you are going to, it is going to cause more problems because if you are drinking, like I said, you are either going to argue with someone when you are out, or you might have an argument with your friend, or your family over something and because when you drink it changes everybody’s personality, when someone is drinking they are a different person to what they are when they are sober I think, in my opinion.
 
And how you change?
 
I change, I go more, I am quite a loud person anyway but I go even louder, I am more outspoken then. , I am a bit more confident in myself, and, I am, I don’t, I don’t actually know how I would describe myself how I change, I think you would have to ask someone else that. But I can see personally I change into a bit of a, promiscuous girl I think and that’s not good, that’s why I don’t like drinking [slight laugh].
 
I can become aggressive yeah, when I am, I am gobby when I am drinking, if someone says something to me I will, I will rare back at someone when I am sober but it might be someone that when I am sober I won’t rare to, but if I have had a few drinks in me I will quite happily, do you know what I mean? Have a go at them. 
 
 

Getting drunk has helped create problems for Leah rather than solve them.

Getting drunk has helped create problems for Leah rather than solve them.

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I think drinking, in the drinking sense it’s caused a lot of issues in my life, like you drinking is going to block out one problem but you can always guarantee it’s going to bring up another problem, you’re going to get drunk and you’re either going to start an argument with somebody, you might fall pregnant, you might, you might lose your friends, do you know what I mean? Or anything could happen to you.
 
So answering one problem with something else is not the answer to, it’s not going to answer another problem if that makes sense?
 
 

Leah experienced physical and mental abuse and bullying by her stepfather. She left home several times, between the ages of 14 and 15 and eventually went to live with an aunt.

Leah experienced physical and mental abuse and bullying by her stepfather. She left home several times, between the ages of 14 and 15 and eventually went to live with an aunt.

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Do you want to tell me more about the, the domestic violence, the experience of that?
 
Basically it was the, the man that come into our home, I would live with my mum and I was the only child until I was five years old, and my mum met this bloke, and he started coming round, and that was when my mum’s attention went off of me and on to him because she wanted a man’s attention. Over the years he’s still, she’s still married to him now, but he doesn’t live with her they’ve broken up, but they still see each other and stuff. I left home when I was thirteen, he kicked me out and I have been in and out of my house since I was twelve to about the age of fourteen, fifteen. Staying at different friend’s houses, missing a lot of school, drinking and because of how I was brought up around my mum with, she sort of told me you need a man’s love, I’ve started when I was about fourteen I started sleeping with people. Some of them were drunken mistakes, others I just thought they actually cared about me. The bloke that come in the house it started off with just massive arguments where he would get really angry and he would be shouting and my brothers would be crying, because I’ve got three younger brothers. 
 
I used to go upstairs and just cry, and if my mum, it, the argument that him and my mum had would always relate back to me, it would always be my fault and then obviously I used to argue back with him sometimes. It wasn’t necessarily he used to hit me a lot it was the mental abuse he used to give me, he used to, because I was quite a chubby child he used to call me a fat c, u, n, t, all the time, “Dinner’s ready fatty, come and get your food.” And at that point I was, I went on a diet with Slim Fast at about thirteen, I lost a couple of stone, that’s all I was eating and drinking.
 
When I was fourteen I left home to go and live with my friend in town in a flat, I stayed there for nearly a year, well for about six months to a year, my mum started talking to me again towards the end saying, “You’ve got to come back home, you’re coming back home.” I said, “I don’t want to come back home.” Police got involved, Social Services got involved and they told me, “You’ve got to go back home.” And it got too much for my friend anyway, we were arguing so much because we were with each other every day, so I went back home. When I went back home fit, it did take, my mum was all nice to me, tried to buy me stuff, telling me she missed me, several weeks down the line and it had gone back to how it was, shouting, arguing, everybody screaming, slamming doors, just the chaotic household, that was about it really, just it went back to how it was. Then I left again, for several days, I remember once I’ve got up at four o’clock in the morning, packed my bag while they were sleeping, went out, and went to my friend’s house, I got brought back home by lunchtime by the Police. There were several times I tried to run away from home, and other times I did get told to leave and not come back. The last time I finally left home was that time I said when he had pulled my hair and stuff and I was about, I was fifteen, and I stayed at my friends’ houses, moved around for a couple of weeks, I had finished school, I had been kicked out of school, I had nowhere to go then I was running out of places to go and I didn’t want to go back home, so I went to my auntie’s and I said to her, “Look can I stay here for a couple of weeks until the Council give me somewhere, till I’m sixteen, when I’m sixteen I can get my own place.” So she said, ‘That’s fine’. So several days after my sixteenth birthday I was working as a Hairdresser Apprentice, I kept that up for ten months, so I lived with my auntie from my sixteenth birthday, just before my sixteenth birthday all the way to my seventeenth, just before my seventeenth, it was a year I’ve stayed there, I was working and everything then everything went downhill because I was a typical teenager, I didn’t really respect the house, just left stuff around, and she got to the point where she said, “You’ve got to go.” So that was when I got my Council place, I got that in June last year, I have still got it, that’s where I live now, I still go to my auntie’s at weekends to stay there for company obviously and help and stuff, I’m really close with her. The whole situation like living on my own now, I still don’t feel comfortable living on my step, by myself.
 

Leah says that if you are going to try drink and drugs, do it with someone you trust.

Leah says that if you are going to try drink and drugs, do it with someone you trust.

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I think if you are going to drink you are going to drink nobody is going to stop you, just be careful, be aware of, the situations you can get yourself in. If you are going to do drugs, I personally think they are silly, because I have learnt from my experiences, but, you are young, you are going to try stuff, just make sure if you are going to be drinking you are with someone responsible, who is someone that is going to look after you, not a bloke. And if you are doing, if you are going to do drugs make sure you are always around, just make sure you have always got someone there, you always someone around that is responsible, someone you can talk to about your experiences, don’t keep things to yourself and do it by yourself because, I think it is a lot more dangerous than what it is.
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