Addiction can take hold of anyone at any time. Zephyr Gaunt a had promising career but lost her way as she turned to drink. She has now overcome her demons to help others through Red Rose Recovery and Lancashire User Forum.
Mother-of-one Zephyr Gaunt, of Preston, began drinking when her daughter was 12 years old.
She was diagnosed with bipolar and depression and lost highly paid jobs as a result of her spiralling issue.
Her relationship with her daughter became strained and she had no home to call her own.
The 40-year-old says: “My issue was drinking. I suffered from a depression at a young age after having my daughter 21 years ago.
“It slowly progressed and 12 years ago I started drinking on a nightly basis. I was coming home from work and having a drink to unwind.
“I would not sleep for several nights as I was drinking, my brain just continued.
“In 2013 I was diagnosed with bipolar and in and out of hospital, as I was sectioned.
“I am not sure if the drink and bipolar are connected but I ended up losing a really good job through it in 2014. I had been working for Revenue and Customs in Warrington for 11 years. I left through medical bipolar.
“I got odd jobs here and there and was a deputy manager at Select clothing store. I had reached nine months sober and got a job doing supply work with M & E Global. I moved to Germany and worked on a village site. It was a brilliant, well paid job. After 18 months sober there I picked up a drink again as I was getting really bad anxiety and I was not sleeping. So it started again and I was out there for 14 months drinking and destroying my life.
“I lost my job there last July as it was contract work and the said I was no longer needed.
“I felt it was a bit conniving as I was still turning up for work and I was never drunk, but it was time for me to go home.
“I then went to America to visit my dad and get back on the straight and narrow.
“I drank twice while I was there.
“When I returned home I had nowhere to live because I had signed my house over to my daughter. She would not take me in because of my addiction and what I had put her through.
“I had lost basically everything. I was sleeping on my niece’s sofa getting drunk so I knew I had to move on.
“I moved away and got another job and a lot of stuff went on, so I had to give that up.”
Realising things had to change, Zephyr moved into a communal recovery home in Preston and joined Red Rose Recovery and Lancashire User Forum (LUF).
Read more: Reformed addicts: What is Red Rose Recovery and Lancashire User Forum? and Reformed addicts: Meet the founder of Red Rose Recovery in Lancashire
She adds: “If I didn’t do that, I think I would have ended up dead. It gets me out in the day and I speak to other addicts. It is inspiring hearing so many stories.
“It helps me as I speak to other addicts and see how they have progressed through recovery. They are even working for the organisation now.
“I want to do volunteer work with mental health and addiction because I believe there is a lot out there.”
Zephyr is now working on her relationship with her 21-year-old daughter, saying: “We used to be so close but she was 12 when I started drinking. It was the most important time of her life and I wasn’t there for her. Even though I had been clean for 18 months she didn’t trust me and she kept asking if I had a drink. She had seen my sober for six months, relapse, sober for a month, relapse, 18 months sober and relapse.
“I have moved out of the area and gone to somewhere I can get help. I now talk to her every day and we get on so much better.”