A MUM-of-two who started using drugs when she was a teenager and spent years in physically abusive relationships is sharing her remarkable story of recovery.

Saffron Roberts, 40, spent three decades in the grip of addiction.

She started using cannabis, acid and amphetamines at the age of 14, before being introduced to cocaine and crack cocaine.

Despite vowing to never use heroin, after her brother died of an overdose at the age of 30, Saffron was introduced to the drug by an abusive partner.

Years later, she lost a second brother to a heroin overdose.

Saffron, of Bangor, suffered anguish when her two children were removed from her care by social services, and endured violent attacks at the hands of her partner and other drug dealers.

Saffron, who has opened up about her ordeal in the hope of helping others and has been given a second chance at life through Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Moving On In My Recovery programme, said: “We were living with drug dealers and there would be prolonged violent attacks.

"I learnt very quickly to do whatever I was told and keep my mouth shut. The next few years I spent every day injecting drugs, selling drugs, shoplifting, picking up parcels and whatever else I was told to do. We had armed police busts, but if the dealers were caught, there was always others to replace them.

“I’ve had broken ribs, a broken arm and many scars where I’ve been bitten and cut. I was in constant physical pain and I’d wake up in the night gasping for breath. I’d become completely fine with the idea that the amount of drugs I was taking might kill me.

“I didn’t want to live my life like this and I couldn’t find a way out. I didn’t see my kids, I’d let my family down and missed out on so many Christmases, birthdays and family occasions, including my Taid’s funeral and my brother’s wedding.”

North Wales Chronicle:

Saffron Roberts was given a second chance at life through Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Moving On In My Recovery programme

Following the pain of losing her children, Saffron mustered the courage to leave her old life behind and get clean.

“After a particularly bad beating I thought if I die my kids will think I didn’t even try to fight for them. I’d given up on myself, but I didn’t want my kids to think I’d given up on them,” Saffron said.

“On the April 19 2018 I left the flat in Colwyn Bay and my Dad took me to a Women’s Aid refuge, where I was supported by a Domestic Abuse Officer. He called an ambulance and Doctors couldn’t believe I was still breathing.”

In the following months, Saffron was supported by Women’s Aid and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s substance misuse service, before being referred to Penrhyn House on the outskirts of Bangor, which helps people recover from long term substance misuse.

Saffron was introduced to Moving On In My Recovery, which has been credited with helping hundreds of people across North Wales achieve a sustained recovery from addiction.

The programme is delivered by people with a lived experience of addiction, alongside staff from BCUHB’s treatment services.

Saffron added: “I didn’t know who I was or what I liked. I knew nothing about recovery and I’d never been to any meetings or any groups before. But there were people at Penrhyn House who wanted to help me. They laughed a lot and they cared for each other and for me.”

Saffron has now been clean for almost two years and she has learnt to build ‘anchor points’ in her life to help her remain abstinent.

These have included repairing her relationship with her children and wider family, as well as attending a creative writing course, boxercise classes and writing poetry.

She also regularly volunteers at Penrhyn House where she helps to facilitate Moving On therapy sessions.

“My addiction was a full time job, so I treat my recovery the same, because without recovery I have nothing,” she explained.

“I’ve started writing to my daughter. She’s 11 now and I’ve not see her since she was aged five. I’m working on improving our relationship. I have an amazing relationship with my son and my three brothers.

“I know from Moving On In My Recovery that we can often find healing by contributing to others.

“I want to make sure that the years of dereliction and pain are not wasted by using my story of experience, strength and hope to help someone else get better. Because we can only keep what we have by giving it away.”

Referrals to the Moving On In My Recovery programme can be made through BCUHB’s Substance Misuse Service.