‘Taking drugs was a cry for help that no one could hear,’ says Sam Evans, 42.
She was offered her first line of cocaine at the age of 23, when she was at the funeral of a friend who had died from a drugs overdose.
At an ‘all-time low’ after having an abortion, suffering bullying, and in mourning for her friend, Sam said yes.
Within just six weeks, she was taking cocaine every day, spending hundreds each week.
By the age of 30, Sam had to declare herself bankrupt, having racked up £40,000 of debt to fund her addiction.
‘When I had a taste of cocaine I thought “this is amazing”, it numbed my pain,’ she remembers.
‘Within six weeks, I’d been signed off from work, my weight went from 10.5st to 8st. I was addicted.
‘I was doing a gram a day at £50 a day. I started borrowing money from friends, taking out loans and maxing credit cards to fund my clothes and drug habit.
‘I was spiralling out of control.’
Sam’s challenges began when she was very young, having grown up in a strict Indian family in a ‘predominantly white British area’ in east London.
She experienced racial abuse and bullying, and tried hard to fit in.
‘Other kids would tell me I was “dirty” because of my skin colour,’ Sam recalls.
‘My parents were very strict, so I didn’t feel as though I could breathe without getting into trouble.
‘I tried desperately to fit in, but friends would disappear quickly.’
At 15, she had ‘had enough’ when her parents divorced, so went to live with her grandparents nearby, who allowed her to get a part-time job at Topshop.
This is when the first signs of a tendency towards addiction began to show, as Sam would spend ‘every penny’ on clothes she then hid away in her wardrobe.
After completing her GCSEs and A-levels, Sam studied an art foundation course, then a massage course, but she left both without finishing.
At 18, and teetotal, she started socialising and met her then boyfriend, becoming pregnant when she was 20.
‘I didn’t know what to do, so I had an abortion,’ says Sam. ‘I’d only told my ex, so he came with me to the clinic. When I came round after the procedure, I was screaming at him to leave me alone.
‘I split up with him, and felt numb. Abortion was frowned upon by my family, but I eventually told my mum and she was really supportive, but I was deeply heartbroken at what I’d done.’
Within the next year, Sam was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, just as she was going to launch her own business, a retail store selling women’s clothes.
Then, aged 23, one of Sam’s friends died of an accidental drugs overdose, and everything came crashing down.
That line at the funeral triggered a spiral of destructive behaviour.
Working in the financial industry as a PA in London, Sam started going out clubbing, spending £500 a night buying everyone drinks and drugs in an attempt to feel ‘in control’, and £1,000 a month just on clothes.
Money was disappearing and debts beginning to stack up, but Sam just blocked it all out.
‘I just didn’t care about myself,’ she says. ‘I ended up rowing with my real friends who wanted me to stop taking drugs, and found other people who wanted to take cocaine.
‘I’d get out of my head. Sometimes I’d just go off on my own, jump in a taxi and go dancing, even though I could barely stand up. I’m so grateful nothing happened to me.
‘I had no sense of responsibility, and all my jobs were on short-term contracts, so I’d either get sacked or the contract would come to an end and they wouldn’t ask me to stay.’
By the age of 25, Sam was £40,000 in debt. She took out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement with a company who called her over the phone, and started paying off £425 a month.
But her partying continued, and at 27, she met her ex-boyfriend, and began to shut out her friends and family.
She remembers: ‘I pushed for us to move in with each other, despite friends warning me he was a bad influence. We’d stay at home doing cocaine, sometimes staying up for days.
‘People were calling me a junkie. You can see in photos how dark and sad my eyes were. I was a wreck.
‘This carried on until I was 29. Then we split up, and I was devastated. I found out he hadn’t been paying the rent, so I had to pay the arrears.
‘I then had a call to say my IVA had been conning me, so none of my debt had gone away. That money I had paid every month for five years just disappeared.
‘I then lost my £30,000-a-year job at a bank, and had an emotional breakdown. I hit rock bottom.’
Aged 30, she started working at the Bank of America, moving into a new flat and she cut down the amount of drugs she was taking, but she was ‘still addicted’.
It wasn’t until the following year when Sam met the man who later became her husband, Barry, that she was able to finally make a change.
Having fallen in love ‘at first sight’, Sam had found someone who gave her the security she longed for. She quit cocaine entirely overnight.
After welcoming two children, Sam quit her banking career to work in network marketing, which introduced her to the concept of positive affirmations.
She noticed an immediate benefit, and in 2018, she started to work with therapists and mentors to ‘peel off a layer at a time’.
‘It was a really emotional time – I would cry a lot during these sessions as all the negative emotions from my past would come to the surface,’ she says.
‘I got to the root cause of why I had turned to drugs, and had become addicted to buying clothes.’
At the same time, Sam set up her very own coaching business and began to train to help others.
Through one-on-one and group sessions, as well as becoming a trainer to help coaches learn the same tools, Sam’s business has been a huge success, with her earnings now topping £10,000 a month.
Now, she has written about her experiences and coaching techniques in a new book called The Cognitive Switch.
‘I help people who feel stuck and like they’re going round in a vicious cycle and no matter how hard they push themselves they feel like they’re going backwards,’ explains Sam.
‘I rewire their thinking, to forgive the past so they can achieve what they want, whether that’s in a relationship, in a business or as a parent.
‘I’ve shared these powerful tools to allow readers to take ownership themselves. I tell them how to do it, and guide them through the process, and they know that I’ve been where they are.
‘I now feel aligned and now feel content. I understand why I went through everything that I did.
‘I now know my purpose, more than ever, and I now know that my purpose is definitely bigger than me.’
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