Ria Smith, 24 led a fairly typical life growing up in West Leeds with her family.
Her drinking started when she was at college and she started going out with her friends. “We’d start drinking at 10.00am and stop at 2.00am next day. At that age you can cope with it and I had a job at a local co-op so funding the habit was easy, although looking back I wonder how I afforded it.”
A turning point came two days before her 21st birthday when after a particularly heavy session she fell and broke her arm. “By then I was living with my grandma who told me that she wanted me to go to the doctor to get help and do something about my drinking because it was going to kill me.”
“At my worst I was drinking 15 pints and a litre of spirit a day. For two years I managed to control my drinking but I started again after my relationship broke up. My drinking became so bad that I ended up in hospital,” she said.
Ria’s mum stepped in and saved her. She had heard about Carr Beck, the only wet hostel for women.
“She rang them and they came round to see me within hours and took me in. That was almost a year ago.”
Supported by the Carr Beck team Ria has worked out an alcohol management plan that she adheres to. There are some days that she doesn’t have her limit of drink.
“I limit my drinking hours to 6.00pm until mid-night and there are days when I haven’t had my last drink,” she said.
“I am so much better and thanks to Carr Beck have a part time job at Clean Start, a social enterprise that specialises in deep cleaning and decorating,” she added. “There are days when I get back from work and don’t have time for a drink.”
“Carr Beck is so much more than just support and a place to live. It has given me the confidence to plan a new life including starting a decorating business and moving into my own flat. They have also connected me with women’s support groups so I can share my experiences and learn from others.
“I have learnt that I can achieve whatever I want if I put my mind to it. It has given me the chance to live a normal life!”
Update Sept ’22: Congratulations to Ria on beginning her two-year apprenticeship with Bagnalls, one of the country’s leading painting, decorating and specialist industrial coatings contractors. Read more about it here.
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