LEAP graduate praises innovative addiction programme

A MUM-OF-TWO who suffered from a crippling alcohol addiction has celebrated reclaiming the life she never thought she would have.

Monday, 18th April 2016, 8:42 am
Updated Monday, 18th April 2016, 11:40 am
Emma Hogg with Dr David McCartney. Picture: contributed

Emma Hogg had always enjoyed a drink with friends but when she gave birth to her daughter three years ago, things began to spiral out of control.

Struck down by post-natal depression, she struggled to balance looking after her older son, now seven, and her newborn daughter.

The 37-year-old, who had a successful career in finance, started out adding a miniature of vodka to her soft drinks on the way home but at her lowest point she was drinking up to a litre of neat vodka per day.

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Now Emma, from Dunbar, has become the 500th person to graduate from NHS Lothian’s pioneering LEAP programme, which has garnered praise for its innovative approach to tackling addiction. She said: “When I was in the height of my addiction, drink always won, the disease always won, even over my own children.

“You have to make the choice between giving up everything for one thing, or giving up one thing for everything.”

Emma’s situation became so difficult that she had to leave her family home and move into supported accomodation.

While there she began working with a support worker from Mid and East Lothian Drugs (MELD), who referred her to LEAP last year.

She said: “I didn’t really think I had a problem for a long time. Even when I was being referred to LEAP, I thought I didn’t need their help and I could do it on my own.”

The 12-week programme offers clinical, medical and therapeutic help from its base at the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Morningside.

Emma, who is now 100 days sober, graduated from the programme in a special ceremony last week.

She said: “It’s the best and hardest thing I’ve done in my life and I’m so pleased I’ve done it. The staff are great.

“You come in and say you’re feeling fine, they know you’re not fine. They know more about me than I know about myself. I didn’t think I could have a life again but I am getting it back. LEAP has given me the shoes and now I have to walk in them.”

Half of LEAP graduates over the last five years are still sober, rising to 66 per cent among those who completed after-care regimes.

Speaking at her graduation, Dr David McCartney, clinical lead for LEAP, said: “Today is a really special day for Emma because it marks a key point in her recovery. It is also a major achievement for us because Emma has become our 500th graduate.

“LEAP is a challenging and intensive programme aimed at those with the motivation to become substance-free.”