Every day, Becky Edwards stuck rigidly to the same routine. She’d wake up,
down a can of lager for breakfast, then head to town to drink herself into
But Becky wasn’t your typical drunk. Just 17, she and her four sisters had
been raised by middle-class parents, and she’d attended a private girls’
But everything went wrong after her parents split in 1989. Becky blamed
herself for the break-up and began to rebel.
Aged 13, she played truant, at 14, she started sniffing aerosols. Her finger
firmly on the self-destruct button, she then began drinking and taking
drugs. At 17, she was diagnosed as an alcoholic.
Despite her mum Jane’s best efforts to save her, Becky spent the next 10 years
careering between her addictions, self-harm and eating disorders before
eventually trying to kill herself.
“It’s hard for people to understand how I became an alcoholic,” Becky says. “I
don’t quite get it, even now. I come from a good home and no one in my
family ever had a drink problem¿ but I drank so heavily, I’m amazed I’m
What’s more amazing is that Becky, from Colchester, Essex, has turned her life
around and become a loving mum to her six-month-old son, Dane.
“Now I have my baby boy I have a glimmer of understanding as to why my own mum
stuck by me, when all I did was constantly cause her pain,” she says. “But I
also know I hurt her so much, I can never apologise enough.”
As a teenager, Becky was convinced she wouldn’t live to see her 30th birthday.
And she almost didn’t.
“I’m amazed Mum didn’t wash her hands of me – I put her through hell,” Becky,
now 31, admits. “I’d get arrested for being drunk and disorderly and Mum
would bail me out. She’d beg me to stop drinking, but I just wouldn’t
In fact, the more her mum pleaded with her to stop, the worse she got. “Some
nights Mum would even sleep on the floor outside my bedroom to stop me going
out, but I’d just climb out of my window,” she admits.
By this point Becky wasn’t drinking with other teens. They’d ditched her and
her wild ways long before. Her closest friends were hardened drinkers –
usually homeless drunks.
She dropped out of school at 16 with no qualifications. Her days blurred into
one and she thought nothing of downing three litres of cider, half a bottle
of vodka and potent bottled cocktails.
“My mum continually tried to make me get help, but I refused,” she says.
Her mum had remarried and although she and Becky’s stepdad were loving and
supportive, to their horror, Becky left home to live in a series of squats
“Mum begged me to come home – I refused. I couldn’t understand why she still
cared about me,” Becky admits. “I had four lovely sisters who were never any
trouble, but she didn’t give up on me.”
Painfully aware of her daughter’s drinking, Jane took her to see a GP. Becky
was clinically diagnosed as an alcoholic and prescribed a variety of
medications, including antidepressants, sleeping pills and a drug to control
the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, to help her quit boozing.
Instead, Becky became addicted to the pills. Deep in the grip of her alcohol
and pill addiction, she neglected herself. Her weight plummeted and her
She wore her brown hair cropped short under baseball caps and disguised
herself in baggy jeans and hoodies. People presumed she was a down-and-out
Becky lived on benefits and spent her days drinking in parks, and her nights
sleeping in shelters or on the streets.
“For years I was lost to everyone – even myself,” she remembers. “Days became
weeks, which became months. Occasionally I wished I was dead. I knew I was
killing myself and just wanted it all to end.”
Then, aged 27, Becky was introduced to the highly addictive – and deadly –
crystal meth by a fellow alcoholic.
She instantly became hooked, but with each hit came a crashing low. And after
one such episode, Becky decided to end it all.
In July 2007, while alone in a secluded country lane, she downed all the
prescription tablets she had left, curled up under a bush, and prepared to
She drifted off to sleep but was woken the following morning by a phone
ringing. It was the mobile her mum had bought her to keep in contact. In
that split second, Becky realised she didn’t want to die. She grabbed the
phone and pleaded with her mum to rescue her.
“Mum drove straight to get me and as she held me in her arms, I began to think
that if I couldn’t even kill myself, perhaps I should try to get better,”
Becky says softly.
Her mum took her to hospital to have her stomach pumped. She was then kept in
for observation before going home where her sisters and stepdad Chris
welcomed her. There, with her family’s support, Becky finally started to
Within days her mum had agreed to pay £3,500 for her to attend the Perry
Clayman Project, a rehab clinic in nearby Luton.
Becky packed a bag and prepared to go cold turkey. For the first time in 10
years she’d have no booze, no pills and no drugs in her system. At first,
she found it unbearable.
“The withdrawal symptoms were severe. I shook constantly, sweat poured out of
I began hallucinating, hearing voices… it was terrifying,” she recalls.
Becky also started to attend group therapy, where she was encouraged to talk
about why she drank.
“I was very honest and spoke about how I’d got to this point in my life. I
found it very tough,” she admits.
“Ever since I was that little girl who believed she’d caused her parents’
divorce, I’d kept everything bottled up. When I started talking about it,
the floodgates opened up and I totally broke down.
“It was so traumatic. After two weeks I phoned Mum and begged her to come and
get me. ‘It’s your last chance, Becky,’ she said. After more than 10 years
of making her life hell, I knew she was right and decided to stay.
“I craved drink. It’s all I thought about for the first month. Every time I
wanted to run away, I remembered lying in that ditch and waiting to die and
decided I owed it to Mum, and to myself, to get better,” she says.
“With therapy, I realised I didn’t need alcohol, pills, or drugs to get
through the day. And I was a good person who deserved a life.”
As her body recovered from the abuse it had suffered, Becky’s skin started to
look healthier, her curves came back and she began to look like a young
Six months after she was admitted to the clinic, she was discharged, although
she returned for weekly counselling.
“Instead of drinking all day, I began doing normal things like shopping,
cooking and washing,” Becky says.
“After years living in a blur of drink and drugs, it felt like a miracle that
I could just be normal. My clothes were actually clean, I grew my hair and
wore feminine clothes and make-up. I looked like a ‘nice’ girl again.
“I started working as a carer in the residential home my mum ran and became a
volunteer for an addicts helpline,” she adds.
“The one thing my experience had given me was an understanding of the hell
addiction puts you through. I wanted to help other people get better.
“I didn’t crave alcohol any more. It was as if a switch had flicked in my
head. I was happy to be out socially with other people and drinking orange
juice. A year after I left rehab, I was able to stop my weekly visits –
although I knew someone was always on the end of the phone if I needed them.”
Last May, Becky went bowling with some friends from the volunteer centre. She
got a taxi home and started chatting to the driver, whose name was Graham
“We got talking and when he asked if I’d been on a boozy night out,
I hesitated before telling him I was a recovering alcoholic,” she says.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he was really nice and before I knew it,
I’d told him my life story.”
To her amazement when Graham, 47, dropped her home, he asked her out.
“I’d felt so at ease chatting to him that I agreed. We went out the following
night and there was an immediate spark between us,” Becky explains.
The couple soon became inseparable.
“Graham was so non-judgemental of my past, I felt strongly that we were meant
to be together,” Becky says.“After just six weeks, we were planning a life
together. I’d met his teenage daughter, Vicky, and we got on well.
“After years of feeling worthless, I longed to be part of something loving
Just three months after they met, Becky discovered she was pregnant.
“After all the abuse my body had been through I thought I’d never be able to
have a baby. I was delighted and so was Graham,” she smiles.
Becky moved into Graham’s semi-detached house in Colchester. Dane was born in
February this year, weighing 5lb 11oz. And Becky has revelled in her new
role as a mum.
“I can’t imagine life without Dane, Graham and Vicky,” she admits. “I spent
years trying to reject my loving family – now I realise that’s what life is
really all about.
“And I owe it all to my mum and Chris. I wouldn’t be here without their love
and, for that, I will always be grateful.”
‘I’M SO PROUD OF HER’
Becky’s mum, Jane Hewson, 61, says: “Seeing Becky with Dane makes me so proud.
I never thought I’d see her with a child of her own – in fact, I did worry
one day I’d get a call to say she was dead. That terrified me.
Until she went into rehab, all I ever heard from Becky was how much she wanted
People used to tell me to forget about her. They had little sympathy with her
for living the life of a homeless alcoholic when she came from a good home
and a loving family.
But I was prepared to do anything to keep her alive, even when others didn’t
think she was worth saving. While they saw an out-of-control addict, I saw
my lovely girl being destroyed by an addiction to alcohol that overwhelmed
I have never been ashamed of her. Becky wasn’t a bad person because she had a
I am so grateful the rehab clinic in Luton saved her life. Meeting Graham and
having a family with him has given her a future I never thought she’d have.
I’m delighted for her.”
PHOTOGRAPHY: JUSTIN GRIFFITHS-WILLIAMS
HAIR & MAKE-UP: SHERRIE WARWICK FOR INFORMATION ON THE PERRY CLAYMAN
PROJECT REHAB CLINIC, VISIT PCPLUTON.COM