Ann is the 400th to finish detox course

Ann Edwards with LEAP's Dr David McCartney. Picture: contributed
Ann Edwards with LEAP's Dr David McCartney. Picture: contributed
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A DRUG and alcohol detox and rehabilitation service has seen its 400th person graduate from its ground-breaking treatment programme.

Ann Edwards, 56, was referred to the Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme, known as LEAP, by her GP after her excessive drinking led her to suffer from seizures and hallucinations.

She marked 12 weeks sober and the end of the three-month rehabilitation programme with a special graduation ceremony at LEAP’s Astley Ainslie hospital base, surrounded by friends and family.

Ann, who lives in Prestonpans said: “I’ve been in rehab before and it didn’t work so I was really sceptical about doing a similar programme again. But when I heard about LEAP, I couldn’t wait to get here.

“I started drinking with my friends when I was about 13 or 14, but after going in and out of abusive relationships my drinking spiralled and my kids would often find me passed out in swing parks.”

Ignoring the pleas of her family, Ann continued to drink and was often violent towards her loved ones, feeling powerless over her addiction.

“I’d bounce along to the shop to buy another bottle of vodka so I’d have something to wake up to, just in case I drank the bottle I already had, through the night,” Ann remembers.

Things finally came to a head when she was arrested for being under the influence while out with her grandchildren.

Ann said: “That gave me the shake I needed. I had to have supervised visits with them, which was just awful. I’d also started to suffer from terrible seizures and would have the most horrendous hallucinations, seeing men in my flat when no-one was there.”

Arriving at LEAP in May, Ann joined 20 other addicts on the road to recovery. The day programme offers clinical, medical and therapeutic help to those who want to get clean.

Ann said: “It is a really tough process. In some ways it’s like being at school again – there’s a strict routine and lots of learning but you have so much support from the therapists, particularly my own therapist Brian Saunders and my peers who are all at different stages in the programme. I wouldn’t have changed without LEAP. I’ve realised I’m not that nasty, cruel, drunk person and I’m finding Ann Edwards for the first time in 43 years.”

Dr David McCartney, clinical lead of LEAP, NHS Lothian, said: “Today is a really special day for Ann and her family as it marks a key point in her recovery. LEAP is a challenging and intensive programme aimed at those with the motivation to become substance-free.

“It’s not an easy route but we believe part of our success is down to partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and Transition, and also to the after-care programme we offer which involves peer-support groups and counselling over two years.”