Madeleine Downes always thought that if she were to be arrested it would be for chaining herself to a tree or protesting for asylum seekers' rights.

Never would she have imagined that she'd spend a night in police cells for being too drunk to care for her young children.

This, however, was the low point that saw her seek help and begin to turn her life around.

In July last year she and her children had been to Blackpool on holiday for what was a "horrendous" trip made stressful by the fact that her son, who has ADHD, unpacked his medication from the suitcase.

Madeleine had been abusing alcohol for 25 years but this was a particular low point.

When the family-of-five returned home, her wine delivery had arrived and she drank the lot.

"So you can imagine what kind of week it was," she said, "and when we got back, my anxiety and my stress ... I just started drinking it and I didn't stop."

Police arrived at her home, in Dunoon, on another matter and found the 43-year-old too drunk to be looking after her two younger children, who were 11 and three.

Social work were informed and Madeleine given a strict warning to sort her life out or lose her children.

"And that was it," she added. "I just stopped. That was the very last drink."

Madeleine sought help from addiction charity WithYou which, since 2016, has been providing specialist services across Argyll and Bute to tackle the specific challenges of dealing with addiction in rural areas.

In 2022 a report from Public Health Scotland examined whether five out of 10 of medication assisted treatment (MAT) standards had been achieved by addiction services.

The report showed that out of the 29 alcohol and drugs partnerships (ADPs) in Scotland, only Borders had fully implemented five standards.

Argyll & Bute was one of two area partnerships - along with Moray - to perform the worst, failing to implement three out of the five and partially implementing the other two.

Louise Stewart, the charity's director of service delivery in Scotland, said it is vital to provide a consistent approach across the sizeable area, which covers Bute and Cowal; Oban, Lorn and the Isles; Mid-Argyll, Kintyre and Islay; and Helensburgh.

But it is also important not to try to import services exactly as they are in a city like Glasgow.

For a start, Ms Stewart said: "In an area which is remote rural and island communities, you have to share resources.

"We work with grassroots recovery services, other third sector organisations such as advocacy services, we do joint pieces of work in particular with the NHS.

"We have to, because it's such a huge, vast area to cover and we don't have staff everywhere.

"You have to use your imagination to be able to reach people that you may struggle with.

"It's not the same as working in the city."

Madeleine began drinking when she was a teenager and her reliance on alcohol intensified as she got older, but she rationalised drinking as being a well-deserved treat for a single mum-of-four.

She would start arguments with friends after boozing or make promises to her children that she was too hungover to fulfil.

"I put it to the back of my mind thinking, 'Well, I've got four children. I'm doing it on my own. I deserve a drink. I deserve to be able to unwind," Madeleine said.

"I think deep down, yeah, I did know. But when you've got an addiction, your addiction makes you a very selfish person."

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Her dad had been an alcoholic but was a "nice guy" who held down a good job and the family lived in a "lovely big house" and went on holiday to the south of France.

She said: "He wouldn't have any issue putting us all in the car and driving us around drunk.

"And no one ever said to him, 'You know, you need to stop'. It's let's just keep quiet about it and that's shame.

"And shame is terrible. It makes you silent."

Fear and shame have motivated Madeleine's response to the police incident and to her new sobriety.

Living in a rural area where everyone knows everyone's business made things difficult - until she decided to take matters into her own hands and post on social media about what had happened.

She said: "I was running from my car into the house cos I knew my neighbours had witnessed it. I didn't want to even go to the supermarket.

"Then I put a big post on Facebook because I felt the more eyes that were watching me, it would keep me on the straight and narrow, but also, if there were other people feeling the same way as me, that it might just make them not be ashamed of it anymore.

"They say you should recover loudly to stop other people suffering in silence."

From an addiction service perspective, this issue also affects staffing - both encouraging staff to come and work in rural or island communities, but also hiring locally where service users might be deterred from seeking help if they know their worker is also their neighbour.

Ms Stewart said: "Recruitment is a challenge and actually attracting people that have got the kind of skills, values and experience that we would want to be working with.

"Confidentiality is a challenge so when we interview people in a rural location that is attracting people who are from within their own community, we ask specifically how they would handle this.

"People are really concerned about people knowing their business."

Physically accessing services can also be difficult in more remote areas. Ms Stewart says WithYou has staff who travel across Argyll and Bute but if the ferries are cancelled or the Rest and Be Thankful is closed they're scuppered.

Digital services have been more important and developed quickly during the pandemic.

Social media has also been a huge part of Madeleine's recovery journey as services are harder to access in person and is part of what has saved her.

She is in a Facebook group called Sober Punks and has made friends from around the world, in particular three women - one in Tasmania, one in Canada and one in Boston.

Madeleine said: "It's invaluable for being in an area like this where it's isolated.

"So no matter what time of day it is, if one of us is struggling, there's always somebody awake.

"I wouldn't be here now if it hadn't been for knowing that you've got a device, a phone you can pick up and you can just get help like that."

Madeleine is always open with her children about her addiction and says the older two see a huge change in her and in their lives.

The fear of letting down her children is what keep Madeleine, who is studying to be a nurse, going.

She said: "When you drink or you're hungover most days, the best way I can describe it is like you're living your life in black and white.

"You're getting up, you feel sick. You've got a bad headache. You're really bad tempered.

"You're stumbling from one activity to the next, because you were drinking too much the night before.

"And then when you're sober, it's like your life's in colour because even though you have to do the same crappy things like get the kids ready, get them to school, try and go swimming so that you can eat the ice cream that you're eating, do the shopping, walk the dog, sit down for an hour to study, it's not as hard.

"If I'd have known how much better everything would be, I would have done this years and years and years ago."

Madeleine added: "I would have given myself another 10 years, probably, and I don't think I would have been here.

"Either through health reasons or some kind of stupid, impulsive depressive thing that I'd do to myself because that's what alcohol made me.

"Before we were kind of just surviving. They're all good, good kids. And they're all now getting the life that they deserve."

David also hit rock bottom after involvement with the police.

Last March he was travelling home to Dunoon on the ferry blind drunk and became involved in an altercation that saw him arrested and charged.

The court process was a vital wake up call.

"I was in a lot of trouble and I thought, 'What can I do? What can I do to change?'", David said.

The 55-year-old had tried sobriety previously with support from the charity WithYou - when it was Addaction - but had always engaged "half-heartedly".

This time he threw himself into it. "I just made a decision that I'm going to attend every meeting," he added.

"I had a change of heart and a change of thinking so I had a desire to change my ways for the first time.

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"I believe that I was desperately unhappy in the way I was living.

"I just feel as if I've been acting out and in a bad way for so long that finally I got the chance to really realise, 'You know, I can still do this. It's not too late.'

"And I put the hand out for help."

WithYou's virtual workers and online groups are not for David, who struggles with computers, so he comes to the centre in Dunoon for his counselling sessions.

David took his first drink at the age of 15 and was instantly hooked. He said: "I remember the feeling it gave me and I chased it all my life after that."

While his friends would drink to be sociable, David would drink to get drunk.

He believed that a good day would be made better with alcohol; a bad day would be soothed by a drink.

But the drinking changed him. It gave him confidence while simultaneously robbing him of confidence.

After school he had an apprenticeship and initially worked hard, determined to make a good fist of it - but his drinking meant he couldn't continue and, at the age of just 20, he was sent to rehab for seven weeks.

He said: "I got to the point where I was unemployable - I was a waste of space."

As soon as he was out he began boozing again. His mother would occasionally have a counsellor meet him at the house when he came home but none of the interventions worked.

Other than Christmas Day, he was isolated from his family and his partner moved to England with their daughter when she was five.

"When I took a drink," David said. "I couldn't really tell you what the outcome was going to be that night.

"I didn't know if I was going to be safely tucked in my bed or not. I couldn't predict where I was going to be or what mood I was going to be in.

"I was the baby of the family and they were looking at me destroy my life, and there was nothing they could do about it.

"They tried in so many ways to help me, and nothing seemed to be working or getting through to me at all.

"My mother would sometimes beg me to please get better."

This went on for decades until the incident last year - and he applied himself seriously to sobriety.

He has chosen an abstinence programme with WithYou as he knows just one drink and "all bets are off".

In court, he says, a sheriff told him he had done so well on his community payback order that she would not need to see him again, a boost that helped keep him on the straight and narrow.

His main motivation, however, is something far more profound.

David recently found his daughter on Facebook and they are slowly exchanging messages. He hopes one day to meet her and begin to repair their relationship.

He added: "I find that absolutely amazing that I can talk to my daughter because I love my daughter very much, you know?

"I've got to put all my daughter's feelings and considerations way above mine, because this is ultimately about her, it's not about my wants or needs. It's what's going to be good for her.

"I'm on 24/7 stand by, on call 365 days a year because I want to be here for whatever and whenever for my daughter.

"I've not been for 20 years. I will be now."