It’s an ongoing process.

I’ve been in recovery from my addiction to prescribed opioid painkillers – fentanyl to be exact – for 11 years. This doesn’t mean I stop working my 12 Step programme, it’s the reverse. As time goes on, the process goes deeper; the challenge becomes one of looking at all behaviours that might be problematic and addressing them head-on.

Recovery isn’t easy because life isn’t always easy, but it’s the only choice. It’s freedom. It’s (relative) sanity. It’s life.

Community is a huge part of this process. I know that anywhere I go in the world (ironic at the moment), I can find a group of people who have been through stuff like me. I can find a fellowship of strangers who speak my language, who’ve experienced my story, who have made it through, one day at a time.

I’m a grateful member of Narcotics Anonymous. I don’t represent it. I don’t promote it. I just know it works for me, and the people I’ve met there have become some of the closest friendships in my life.

Recovery gives me courage to keep facing my demons and my insanity. It gives me the power and tools to address what needs to be addressed. It holds me to accountability, and it blesses me with a renewed sense of wonder and awe at life – and the love and beauty found within it. As a result of recovery, I had the child I was told I would never have, I have been able to pursue the career of my dreams, I have experienced the pure joy of connection. It is a sacred journey, and each day is a new unfolding.

Cathryn is chief executive of the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN) and regularly speaks at conferences and events. PAIN is a charity with the aim of advancing awareness of addiction to opioid painkiller medications in the UK and globally, particularly by the dissemination of information, educational events and as an advocacy service for patients with dependency issues. PAIN has been advocating since 2016.

Coming Clean, a memoir by Cathryn Kemp