My name is Katie, and I am in a woman in long term recovery. What that means to me, is that for the last 2 ½ years I have not turned to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for living life. On December 28, 2014 the pain of staying the same outweighed the fear of doing something different. That day I made the decision that I was ready and willing to do whatever it took to change my life… by getting clean and sober. I knew this would be no easy feat. I was a full blow heroin addict, and nothing else in my life mattered to me than heroin.
When I was growing up, addiction was something that was never discussed in my family, and there was a lot of shame attached to the word. Almost as if we didn’t talk about it, then it wasn’t a problem. I grew up in a town where addiction didn’t exist. …or so I believed (due to lack of education and conversation about the disease). I was an excellent student and excelled at everything I did. I ran track, I played basketball, I loved to water-ski and I was a High School Graduate. I also have two years of college under my belt. I was not exempt from addiction. I had surgery as a senior in High School, and thus my addiction to prescription pain killers began.
Addiction does not discriminate based on gender, nationality, socioeconomic status, education or religion. My life spiraled out of control, and eventually I lost everything, but my life, to heroin. At times I didn’t care if I lived or died from the disease. I soon began committing crimes to support my addiction. Prescription Fraud, theft, Burglary, etc…I became a liar and manipulator. I spent from 2005 to 2010 in and out of The Utah State Prison and nothing mattered to me anymore. How could I tell anyone, let alone my parents and family that I had been using heroin?! Guilt and shame were such dominating feelings in my life. The fear of what people would think about me paralyzed me.
I felt that I was a lost cause, and there was no hope for me, including the loss of relationships with anyone in my life that sincerely cared about me. I was blessed to have the opportunity to get into treatment, and interact with other people, also in recovery. People that understood my thoughts, my fears and my dreams. When I realized that I was not alone, I began to have hope for myself. I allowed other people to care about me and love me until I could learn to finally love myself. I listened to others share their stories, and it gave me hope. Almost 2 ½ years later, I utilize any opportunity I have to share my story, and Live My Recovery Out loud.
Being in Recovery has opened so many doors in my life. I am now a productive member of society. I have a full time job, and pay taxes. I went from being homeless and living on the streets, to having my own apartment where I pay bills, and I am surprisingly grateful to have that responsibility. I am reliable, dependable, and I have genuine relationships in my life. Every day that I wake up is a blessing and I thank God for each breath that I take. When I find myself taking things for granted, or not being grateful for the small things in my life, it doesn’t take much to remind myself where I came from and where I once was.
I stay sober today by helping the next person struggling with this disease. I share my story in hopes of touching just one life. I give back to the community by volunteering my time with Homeless Outreach Programs and anything I can get involved in. The legal system, which was once such a restraining and negative part of my life, is now an avenue for sharing my hope and story. I recently spoke at a Drug Court Graduation in Salt Lake City, Utah and what an honor that was.
Life continues to get better and better and I have a purpose now. I have restored my love and passion for the outdoors. I hike any opportunity I get, and I am fully engaged in my health and exercise. I am currently training for a half marathon and TODAY I get to show up for myself. There is such a strength and power in letting our voices be heard. One Day At A Time! -Katie