In honour of Addiction Awareness Week, the Duchess of Cambridge will attend the first annual gala dinner hosted by Action on Addiction and chef Skye Gyngell, where she will deliver a speech to celebrate the work of the charity. The event, which will be held on Wednesday, will see the royal meet with those affected by addiction as she recognises the work done by the charity. One of the members from Action on Addiction is a mother called Kellie Bennett, is someone who has benefited from treatment at Action on Addiction and been able to turn her life around. She has been sober for over 580 days and is now working as a Learning Assistant.
Hoping to bring addiction out of the shadows and encourage people to talk about the life-stopping condition, Kellie shared her own experience, which started from her childhood. "This story here begins at the age of one," the 33-year-old explained. "I was in and out of care, my father was absent and my mother had a chronic heroin addiction. My mother tried her best to bring up us three children by herself, but her addiction was too strong and at the age of six and a half, my sister and I were matched with a long-term foster carer, while my brother was placed in a children's home."
Kellie Bennett is part of the Action on Addiction family
"Due to the trauma from our upbringing with heavy drug use and violence around us, I had a lot of anger issues and struggled to feel part of any unit," she added. "At the age of 15, my relationship with my foster parents broke down and I was placed with another foster carer. At this point, I found alcohol and dope. Often drinking to the point of passing out unconscious, humiliating myself and saying hurtful things to the people I cared about the most, this became my pattern."
During her twenties and career, Kellie continued to drink alcohol, which caused "blackouts". At the age of 29, she gave birth to her child and tried her best to settle into family life. Despite all her efforts, "I suffered with postpartum depression and during this dark time, alcohol and dope became my crutch." She added: "I was in a desperate place and reached out for support to my doctor, a therapist and was going to AA but I just could not break the cycle. After my relationship broke down, I moved back to Essex with my darling child."
The Duchess of Cambridge at Action On Addiction Community Treatment Centre last year
Kellie then landed work with an organisation called ADAS, in a bid to stop drinking. However, she could not stop and that's when she applied for community rehab with Action on Addiction. "Since then I have not looked back," she shared. "I was in the programme for nine weeks. This helped me to gain perspective on my addiction and I was able to stop using with the support I was receiving from them. I gained a lot of valuable tools to help me cope with my use and life on the outside of treatment." Speaking about the help she received thanks to the charity, Kellie concluded: My life has turned around dramatically. I am now working as a learning support assistant, studying and volunteering. I have also gone on to complete my level one and three in counselling at college and in September I start my degree in counselling and psychology."
Meanwhile, the Duchess has been patron for Action on Addiction, which offers life-saving treatment to both individuals and their families, since 2012. The charity also offers educational programmes up to degree level at The Centre for Addiction Treatment Studies in Wiltshire – somewhere Kate visited back in 2015. The centre, in partnership with the University of Bath, trains addiction counsellors to a higher standard than ever before.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.