Looking at Julie McAddock with her beautiful family of four children, you would have never guessed that only eight years ago she was a junkie living only for her next fix.
She grew up as an ordinary girl, until some bad decisions lead her down a dangerous road.
“At 12, I started going off the rails. I was drinking, smoking and getting suspended from school. I hated myself, had no self-confidence and felt out of place," she said.
She started drinking heavily at the age of 13, and became pregnant at 15 years old.
“At 13 and 14, I could not go a day without alcohol and I started smoking hash. I did awful things and if I woke up and remembered what I had done, I would drink again in a bid to forget," she admitted. “At 15, I found out I was pregnant with Zoe. I managed to stay clean for a while but it wasn’t long before I was back on the Valium so it’s no surprise that at 17 I was pregnant with my son Marc.”
When she was 16-years-old she was homeless and addicted to Valium. By the age of 18 she was injecting heroin and contracted Hepatitis C, and she felt like her life wasn't worth living.
For many this is where the story comes to an clear-cut end. For Julie, she was able to come back from this hellish existence.
“For the next eight years, my life was a cycle of getting clean then relapsing; of having my kids with me, then taken from me by social services. My life was hopeless and I was so lost," she said.
One morning, after her kids had been taken into foster care, she decided that enough was enough.
She spent two and a half years in rehab getting clean and discovering her owns self-worth, which not only changed her life, but the lives of other addicts heading down the wrong road.
After spending her time in rehab, she felt it was the right time to head home and reclaim her life. In February 2013, she married Ricky, who she met in rehab.
“Marc and Zoe, who had been staying with my parents, came to live with us," she said. "I never thought I’d ever have a life like I have now.”
The 34-year-old and her husband Ricky now run Street Connect, a charity to help get drug addicts into rehab.
As the mom of 18-year-old Zoe, 17-year-old Marc, 2-year-old Ross and 1-year-old Gemma, her story is proof that with the right support, a life that appears to be hopeless can be transformed.