SARAH Ibrahim was so shocked to find she was pregnant that she went on a three-day cocaine binge to drown out the fear.
But when the comedown hit, she soberingly realised that her baby may have been sent to save her life – and went cold turkey from the class-A drug for the rest of her pregnancy.
The 42-year-old relapsed three months after her son was born and found herself spending so much money on cocaine that she couldn’t buy pyjamas for him.
“Almost every evening, after putting him in his crib, I'd creep out of his room and chop up lines of coke,” she says.
“I was terrified that one of the teachers at my son's nursery school would find out and report me.”
Now clean, Sarah helps other addicts quit drugs and regain some quality of life.
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However, her journey wasn’t linear.
She tried cocaine for the first time at 20-years-old and within seven years, it had taken hold of her life.
“I left my steady job at a bank to work in a series of temporary positions where it wasn't so important to show up,” Sarah, from Essex, tells Insider.
“I'd start my 72-hour benders on a Thursday afternoon, skip work on Friday, and keep going until Sunday night. I'd wake up in a daze in the same clothes I'd worn since Thursday.
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“My whole life revolved around coke, booze, and cigarettes.”
She describes her drug addiction as a “never-ending cycle” that fractured her family relationships as she was so “moody and unreliable”.
Sarah found out she was pregnant in 2018 after having a one-night stand with a friend.
“I had a total meltdown and decided to have an abortion,” she recalls. “I was 36 but nowhere near ready to have a baby. I couldn't look after myself, let alone another person.
“I found out in the early afternoon and hit the bar a few hours later. I went on another three-day bender.
“It was my tried-and-true technique for dealing with anything that got in my way. I needed to get s**t-faced.”
Am I addicted to cocaine? The signs and symptoms of addiction
Cocaine is highly addictive and what can start out as a one-off can quickly turn into a habit.
Regular use of the drug changes the way the brain releases dopamine – a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy.
But the high is short-lived so often users will take more to feel the desired effects again.
Over time, the body and brain can become too used to cocaine that it builds up a tolerance, which means you have to take more to feel the same high.
If you recognise any of the following behaviours in yourself, it might mean you've developed an addiction to cocaine:
- You're taking more of the drug to feel the effects
- When you stop or reduce your dosage, you feel agitated, restless and depressed
- You're struggling to cut down or control how much you take, even if you try to
- You spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to get cocaine
- You're disregarding family, friends and work in favour of taking cocaine
- You know the damage it's doing to you, but you can't stop taking it
When the comedown set in a few days later, Sarah realised that having a baby might be her ticket to turning her life around.
“I knew I wasn't going to be able to forgive myself if I didn't make the right choice,” she says. “I quit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes right then.
“I was keeping my baby and needed to look after myself. I reconnected with my family and was excited to have a beautiful little boy.”
Three months after his birth in October 2018, Sarah was offered a line of coke at a friend’s house and relapsed, saying “the drug got its claws back into her”.
“One day I was out shopping to get my son some pyjamas,” she recalls. “They were £7, but I didn't have £7 to spend.
"’You've just put £700 up your nose and owe all this money to your dealer but you don't have £7 to buy your son a pair of pyjamas’, I thought.
“I felt disgusted with myself and deeply ashamed.”
Her addiction rocketed during the Covid-19 lockdown and exacerbated the struggles she was facing as a single mum.
But in 2021, Sarah decided to get clean once and for all.
She visited a clinical hypnotherapist who specialised in addiction and has since gone on to become a professional recovery coach.
“I'm living proof that you can come back from a state of hell and be okay,” she says.
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“I thank God for my son every day. I couldn't have done any of this without him.
“We're a team, and I'm a good mum.”
Where to go for help
Helpline open 24/7: 0300 123 6600
For help finding a service or to Instant chat
Change, Grow, Live
Help for anyone with drug and alcohol issues.
Dedicated help for people under 25.
Mental health support line: 0300 304 7000
Help, support and advice for those dealing with addiction and their families
Action on Addiction
Rehab and community addiction treatment
0300 330 0659
Helpline open 9am-9pm, 7 days a week
0300 888 3853
Help for families affected by drugs and alcohol
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