POW – Case Study

After Alison* found she was pregnant she was referred to our service because she was a teenager, she smoked and her housing was far from ideal.

She was very frank about her lifestyle, and her difficult childhood. She told me she’d self-harmed while she was still at school. She said she’d used cannabis and cocaine ‘to forget’, and although she said she’d given up cocainne, she said she still used cannabis quite heavily.

It was clear Alison needed emotional support and practical help. I made sure she had access to all the services and grants she was eligible for, and we talked about how she could reduce her intake of cannabis. I suggested I refer her to a Stop Smoking Clinic.

Alison said she’d rather try and give up by herself, that she’d cut down from 25 to 5 cigarettes a day and only used cannabis once in the evening.  I congratulated her, but also talked about the need to get support to stop using completely – for her and her baby.

Alison shared her fears around parenting and her doubts about being a good mother with me. I tried to give her confidence and practical support, then, three months before she gave birth, Social Services got in touch with her. They said they’d been contacted about her cannabis use. She was really worried. I  tried to reassure her. I asked her to be open and honest with the social worker when they visited.

Alison went to a support group at her local children’s centre and I visited her at her home until she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

On the day she left hospital, Alison  was visited at home by Social Workers. They drew up a 6 week care agreement with her and said if they had no cause for concern at the end of it, they would close her case. There’s just one week left of support for Alison. She’s followed the care agreement, the 6 weeks are up and the social workers have no concerns. She’s still breastfeeding  and says since her daughter was born she hasn’t used cannabis at all.

Since I first met Alison, there has been a distinct change in her attitude to life. She plans to devote her energy to her baby’s early years, and then commit to full time study for a career in childcare.

Alison told me that she didn’t just consider me her ‘POW’ but her ‘pal’ – and I know that the help and support I gave her made a real difference.

*not her real name.