A mum-of-two who blew £500,000 on drugs has turned her life around to become a successful entrepreneur with a £1million cleaning business – in just five years.
Dedicated Laura Walsh, 45, became addicted to prescription medication in 1987 after taking painkillers following a car crash.
She spent £60 a day on a cocktail of 30 pills for nearly 20 years before finally reaching rock bottom in 2005, when her addiction wiped her memory of Christmas.
Her local Job Centre printed some flyers and she went door-to-door offering domestic cleaning services.
The business took off and she now employs more than 60 people at her company Advanced Cleaning UK, which is worth over £1million.
She said: ”Quitting the drugs was hell on earth – it would have been easier to die.
”The only thing that stopped me taking my own life were my wonderful children who are now amazed and extremely proud at how I have turned my life around.
”I knew I had to quit or I was going to die.
”It had always been my dream to set up a business but whilst I was on drugs I didn’t ever imagine it would be possible.”
Laura descended into addiction in 1987, aged 22, after she was prescribed the painkiller co-proxamol for crippling period pain.
In the same year she suffered whiplash after a minor car accident and was given a course of dihydrocodeine for the pain.
Laura, of Patchway, Bristol, became addicted and was supplementing her eight pill a day prescription with up to 20 pills on the black market.
She used false names to buy emergency over-the-counter sales at pharmacies and dentists.
Laura, who has two children aged 22 and 23, sought an extra ‘buzz’ and frequently binged on up to 20 cans super strength lager every day.
She became a recluse and would sit alone for days on end in a ”world of her own”.
Her job at a care trust was under threat because she kept failing to turn up and she got into financial trouble.
The turning point came in 2005 when she was so wasted she had no recollection of the Christmas and New Year period.
She visited the local job centre, where she was given a new suit and some self-designed leaflets.
Laura started cleaning people’s houses but soon picked up commercial contracts and started taking on her own staff.
She became ”addicted to her new business”, which now makes over £500,000 profit every year and has 62 workers.
Laura, who estimate she blew £500,000 on drugs during her years of addiction, said: ”We are extremely good at what we do and our business is thriving.”
She is now writing a book about her life called ‘One day at a time’ and will be giving motivational talks entitled ‘Woman inspired’ around Bristol throughout June and July.