How the Truth Set Me Free – with Desiree-Anne Martin


My guest this week is Desiree-Anne Martin.  Her addiction to drugs and alcohol kept her at rock bottom for two years – using sex work to fund her heroin habit.

Despite everything, she managed to turn her life around and these days she is a happily married mother of two girls as well as a qualified addiction counselor.

At the age of 41, she published her first book – a memoir called “We Don’t Talk About It. Ever.”

It’s an unforgettable book and by sharing her experience, strength, and hope, Desiree-Anne has given many others a platform to speak out and begin the road to recovery.

In this Episode

  • Desiree’s addictions began with slimming pills which she could buy over the counter here in South Africa. They contained amphetamines and she was on 10 a day, losing weight and full of energy!
  • She moved to the UK and was horrified to discover that she would need a doctor’s script to get these pills.
  • Always on the lookout for something to give her a buzz, Desiree turned to alcohol.
  • She was drinking and comfort eating to keep her warm during the UK’s harsh winter.
  • The result was that she regained the weight she had lost which made her depressed.
  • When her UK visa expired, she returned to South Africa and was delighted to discover that everyone she knew was now getting high at the weekends.
  • The rave culture had exploded and drug-taking was normalized.
  • It was the perfect sub-culture to slot into with her ever-growing addiction.
  • She was taking MDMA, Crystal Meth, LSD, and Ecstacy.
  • Just like drinkers, she had her “rules” and vowed she would never take crack cocaine or heroin – but just like drinkers, she broke that rule.
  • She fell in love with a heroin addict.
  • When he told her about his addiction, she was unphased – she could cope – after all she’d seen the movie Trainspotting so knew how it all worked!
  • She stuck by him because her parent’s marriage had showed her that you stuck together “no matter what.”
  • However, the “no matter what” that Desiree was dealing with led to her trying heroin herself.
  • She vomited after her first hit but she persevered! (as she put it)…
  • It was like a warm blanket that blanked out all her emotions.
  • It takes years, sometimes decades for people using alcohol to become dependent, but hard drugs like heroin are a different matter.
  • Desiree was hooked within a matter of weeks until eventually, she needed it just to feel normal.
  • Her daily struggle became keeping the withdrawal at bay.
  • A friend dragged her to AA/NA – she did attend meetings now and then but was usually high – she would lie about her clean time because she wanted the praise.
  • Her rehab journey began when her dad drove her out into the middle of nowhere to a rehab that Desiree describes as a concrete tank for people to withdraw from whatever they were taking – no support or rehabilitation included – just a few goats hanging around!
  • She managed to get expelled from that rehab for fraternizing.
  • Then she went to live with her mom who did everything she could to control her (including locking her in).
  • All that interested Desiree was escaping so that she could get her hands on some heroin.
  • Eventually, she ran out of resources to fund her drug habit so had to resort to sex work, which of course led to a lot of shame, which of course led to more drugs to cope with the shame – a terrible spiral to be trapped in.
  • Her long-suffering mother found another rehab – and finally, things began to change.
  • Desiree was so tired from secrets and shame which she felt were rotting her from the inside out that she began to “tell her story” – she began “speaking her truth.”
  • She made the choice to get clean – to choose life – and she told her story over and over.
  • This rehab worked because it taught her to speak her truth, which set her free.
  • Once she decided to use the 12 steps she was “all in” – we see that at Tribe Sober – the people who go “all in”, the ones who “throw the book at it” are the ones who succeed.
  • Desiree’s first year of recovery was mainly about “not using” and meant a complete overhaul of her lifestyle.
  • She felt a great sense of loss, she mourned the loss of heroin and had to learn to deal with her feelings again.
  • In the beginning, her feelings were either good – or bad – but gradually they became more complex which was difficult as she could no longer use heroin to numb them out.
  • She also discovered that she had mental health issues which had been masked by her drug taking so she began therapy.
  • She learned that the drinking and the using had been symptomatic of the multiple traumas she had dealt with over the years.
  • Many people in our community love the work of Gabor Mate which emphasizes the link between trauma and developing an addiction.
  • Desiree has finally shed the shame, is now 18 years sober, and spends her time helping and inspiring others.
  • At the age of 41 she published her memoir “We don’t want to talk about it – ever.” Her story continues to give people hope that shows that there is a way out.
  • If you want to learn more about Desiree or book a counseling session with her you can go to her website which is desreeannemartin.com and her book is available on Amazon.

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