Cathy Doyle spoke to Granada Reports presenter Gamal Fahnbulleh in an extended interview
Cathy Doyle, from Liverpool, first tried heroin when she was 15 to escape her traumatic childhood.
In her later teenage years, she was prescribed methadone which is a drug used to help people get off of heroin.
After decades and during the COVID lockdown, Cathy weened herself off methadone and was completely drug free.
Cathy said: "The first time I tried heroin it, I was told it was cannabis. I was already going through a difficult stage with a lot of trauma in my childhood.
"So I tried it and it turned out to be heroin. The feeling it gave me and numbing me, it was an escape.
"It spiralled then, I ended up going out shoplifting, robbing my family. They know that was a different person now."
At her worst, Cathy was spending £600 to £700 on her habit. She said, "I was out on the red light district, it consumed me.
An abridged version of Cathy's interview
Cathy said: "Life was very threatening and very hard. I was praying to not be here."
Cathy has been helped by With You in Liverpool, a charity she calls a beacon of hope in a world that can't see the true levels of addiction around it.
The organisation has received extra government funding to reduce the everyday harm of drug use to people and communities.
The charity runs a services called Project ADDER. The aim of it is to ensure that people are offered a health-based approach to tackling their drug use, diverting them away from the criminal justice system.
The number of people actively receiving treatment at With You's services increased by 10.5% in just one year.
Speaking on her path out of drug addiction, Cathy said: "I will always be in recovery. There's so many addictions in life. There's alcohol, there's tablets, there's so many of them.
"I know I've got the right support around me now."
She described her lowest moments being in her late 20s, but that she remains proud of her resilience.
Cathy says she would tell her younger self: "I would say I'm proud of you, keep going and never give up.
"I'm proud of who she became. No matter what life threw at her, she never gave in. I'm so grateful that I'm still alive."
When asked what advice she would give to current addicts, she said: "Never lose hope, never give on yourself.
"Just be true to yourself, you can achieve anything you want. Just reach out.
"I'm not special, I'm just human. It doesn't make me some strong superwoman. I've got the tools now to be able to pass onto other people and that's what I intend to do."
Help and support
With You provide online advice about dealing with drug addiction and can help you find support services in your area
Oasis Recovery is a free 24/7 confidential live chat service for help and support with addiction is available on the or you can call 0808 274 8029.
CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat. It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP). Call 0800 585858 (daily, 5pm to midnight).
Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues. It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Call 0300 123 3393 or email email@example.com
Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals. It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need when they need it. Visit youngminds.org.uk
Shout is a 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone struggling to cope and in need of immediate help. Text SHOUT to 85258.
SOS Silence of Suicide provides a listening service for children and adults who need emotional support, understanding, compassion & kindness. Phone 0300 102 0505