Tatiana's story is an example of how neglect and heavy responsibility far too young can dramatically affect adult behaviours..
Tatiana is now 27 years old. Raised in poverty, her dad was an alcoholic and her mum worked all hours to provide. The care of Tatiana's younger siblings fell on her from the age of six.
"When I reached 13, I began trying drugs and alcohol. Age 14, I met a boy – the person I would marry. He drank and used drugs too which seemed normal to me. I was in love, so we dated, and quickly moved in together. Getting pregnant when I was 20 seemed a good thing as it motivated me to stop the drink and drugs. We quickly had a second child, and then a third.
When we began going out again, it wasn’t long before our old habits resumed and we tried something new called ‘bath salts’.”
BATH SALTS: 'Salts' are allegedly more common than class B drug cannabis in Russia, costing just £7 per dose. The highs are extreme and therefore very addictive. Users believe salts are safer than heroin but go on to face tragic consequences that include paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, extreme agitation, depression, anxiety, tremors, sleep problems and violent behaviour.
Two years later, with three children under five, Tatiana was an addict and used daily.
'NOWHERE LOWER TO GO'
“The children suffered and I constantly felt guilty. I no longer took them out or to kindergarten. Severe depression and thoughts of suicide ruled me. My choices seemed to be use more drugs or suicide - I felt the children would be better off. My relationship with my husband deteriorated too and I was afraid. Our parents tried to help by taking the children away, so I gave up. Since I’d lost everything, why not go all the way? It was then I started injecting salts directly into my veins. There was nowhere lower to go.
One day mum said: "Look at you Tatiana, look around. You're going to the grave." I replied, “That is what I want."
TIME TO CHANGE.
A friend took me to rehab telling me not to tell my husband as she knew he wouldn't agree. I couldn't keep it to myself and after just two weeks he took me from there. We continued to use and it wasn’t long before he overdosed. He survived after a few days in hospital, but, with the authorities now notified, I was told my children would be permanently removed if nothing changed.
This was it, no matter how hard it would be, I had to change whether my husband agreed or not. I made the decision to go to the Women’s Crisis Centre with my children".
This life story is typical of those heard by Alina (who manages the Women’s Crisis Centre). Having been through it all herself, she can testify that complete recovery is possible.
WHY DID TATIANA'S LIFE TURN OUT THIS WAY?
We would be wrong to presume that Tatiana's dependence on drugs was a mere 'terrible choice'. This outcome was actually VERY likely given her adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Neurons that affect our behaviour and form in our brains, do so from birth. The pathways they make (or break) do so in response to our experiences and react sensitively to comforting or stressful situations. In Tatiana's case, this was the stress of an absent mum, an alcoholic dad and raising a family while only a child herself.