Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Shock pregnancy pushed addict from heroin to homemaker

Azaria Faver rocks baby Bella to sleep Image copyright Azaria Faver
Image caption Azaria Faver rocks baby Bella to sleep

Just over a year ago, Azaria Faver was begging on the streets of Edinburgh and had progressed from smoking heroin to even deadlier crack cocaine.

She admits she didn't care what happened to her and she "would be perfectly happy" if she died.

She thought she was putting enough drugs into her body that she couldn't possibly conceive a baby.

But two lines on a pregnancy test proved her wrong - before she proved the doctor wrong who told her she would have her baby taken from her as soon as it was born.

A year on from the shock that changed her life, Azaria has kicked her addiction and now has a beautiful baby daughter, a home, a partner and a place at university to study social work.

Image copyright Azaria Faver
Image caption Azaria's inspirational posts are helping others

Azaria took her first drugs when she was 15.

A model pupil from a loving family, she passed her exams with flying colours and had a place to study forensic pathology at university.

But after falling in with the wrong crowd, and the wrong boyfriend, she started on cannabis and graduated to heroin.

Her dream career was gone.

Instead she found money to buy drugs any way she could.

Azaria, now 26, told BBC Radio Scotland's Kaye Adams Programme: "I use to shoplift. Eventually I ended up begging. The first time I did that I sat down in the street and burst into tears. I was mortified."

Image copyright Azaria Faver
Image caption Bella-Caledonia is now the centre of Azaria Faver's world

Azaria had several attempts to stop the drugs but faced constant setbacks: "I would do really well then something would happen, like I would have an argument with a family member or my ex-partner and I would just go straight back on it. It was my coping mechanism at the time."

Still a teenager, her health bore the brunt of her substance abuse.

She said: "Towards the end of my addiction I was smoking crack cocaine as well, my lungs when I was breathing sounded like a chainsaw. My health in general hit rock bottom."

Azaria's life had spiralled out of control. Taking drugs, sleeping on other people's couches or on the street in shop doorways, she admitted she didn't care what happened to her.

But a shock pregnancy turned out to be the blessing that turned her whole life around.

She explained: "We just assumed I couldn't fall pregnant due to the amount of drugs I was putting into my system.

"I started feeling a bit funny, took a test and it came up positive straight away. It was the shock of my life.

"We were living in a homeless B&B at the time. I went to the doctor - the homeless practice - and I was told my child would be taken away from me immediately and put into care."

Image copyright Azaria Faver
Image caption Azaria has shared all her triumphs as well as her struggles via social media

Azaria knew right away she wanted to stop taking drugs. With help from social work and services supporting pregnant drug users, she moved onto methadone and kicked the drugs. So did her partner Alex, 40, who is Bella's father.

She said; "Social work and the services I used gave me so much help and support and showed me I can change my life.

"The minute Bella was born, the minute I looked at her, I knew I couldn't go back."

Now baby Bella-Caledonia is five-and-a-half months old, Azaria has been clear of hard drugs for over a year and she has just been accepted to start an access course to study social work.

Her methadone dosage is being reduced and she will soon be completely clean because: " I don't want my daughter to think a daily trip to the chemist is the norm."

She has started a blog called Heroin to Homemaker and candidly shares her experience of making the change for her daughter.

She wants to help other women do the same. People affected by addiction post comments on her Facebook page and she replies, offering to meet them for coffee.

She wants people to know that hope is sometimes all an addict needs to turn things around.

She said: "For all those years I didn't have any hope at all. When I was shown there was a bit of hope I went for it.

"Now life is totally different. I wake up every day and can't believe I'm here.

"Bella was ill a few weeks ago and it was a week of hell with her crying and crying and even though I was stressed out I enjoyed it because it was a different stress than before, because I wasn't sitting on a street begging for money, I wasn't starving.

"She is just the love of my life, she is my world."

Details of organisations offering information and support with addiction are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 947

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