An unbreakable bond with family and recovery, proves to be strong throughout personal addiction struggles, morals and values put to the test, a new-found career, new responsibilities, finding faith, holding onto love, and never giving up hope. A look into my personal life, to open the eyes of some closed-minded and uneducated people in our society. To help end the stigma attached to addiction, for all to see that the disease of addiction does not discriminate, it does not have a face, a specific age, race or gender, it doesn’t care if your rich or poor. WE are everywhere, and you may not even know.
I grew up in a loving home, within a wealthy town. I was given everything and anything that I asked for. I never experienced any kind of trauma, I wasn’t deprived, I never went without. I was always so happy and outgoing, fun and kind. So, you’re wondering how I became a heroin addict after hearing how “normal” I seemed?
I herniated 2 discs in my back at age 22. Being naturally thin my whole life and weighing just 125lbs, I was prescribed 168- 10mg Percocet’s, each month, for a whole year. My doctor at the time had never spoken to me about addiction, and to be honest, I didn’t know a lot about it either. I was fortunately able to, and wise enough, to stop using drugs and alcohol when I found out I was pregnant at age 24. Even after not taking anything for 9 months, the disease and the insanity that comes with it, didn’t take long to hijack my mind body and soul again. However, it was worse at this point, and it got bad, real fast. Now, instead of taking Percocet’s, I unknowingly tried heroin, became addicted within weeks, and continued for the next 4.5 years consecutively. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living, I was just a mere existence. I was a prisoner in my own head for so long, screaming to escape, but didn’t know how.
I was so blind to what the disease of addiction could, would, and eventually do. To not only the addict, but the whole family, which is why it’s referred to as a family disease-everyone suffers. I was so uneducated on the subject that I wondered how this could happen to me as I always imagined a heroin addict as a prostitute on the corner of the street with a brown paper bag, with missing teeth, and grungy-looking. I was embarrassed beyond belief. I was a kind, intelligent, and genuinely a happy and outgoing girl. So why me? How did this happen? I would ask myself this often.
I didn’t think my family knew about my addiction, even with all the lying and stealing I was doing. Until January 2012, my parents section 35’d me. The judge sent me to a women’s locked treatment facility in New Bedford for 28 days. It’s at WATC (Women’s Addiction Treatment Center), where I learned there was a solution, there was help for this horrible disease, and most of all, I learned that I wasn’t alone in this fight. It was the hardest month of my life, physically, mentally and emotionally. It was also the first time I was ever away from my then 3-year-old daughter. I felt a huge weight lifted since my family now knew about my addiction and I had their support. I had surrendered and was willing to do anything and everything to stay clean. I also had DCF involved, so I knew I’d stay on my toes. When I got out of WATC, I attended Narcotic Anonymous meetings and met a lot of people that struggled with the same things that I did. However, I eventually relapsed at 5.5 months clean, eventually overdosed, and was put into a medical induced coma for 4 days. I was so ashamed when I awoke, and felt horrible that all my hard work and my family’s trust and support, all just went out of the window. For what? What did I gain or accomplish during my relapse? Was I rewarding myself for a “job well done?” These questions haunted me for a while, as I didn’t have the answers. However, I never thought that my selfish consequence of “dying for 4 days” would be the wake-up call that I needed. I didn’t want to die, I was afraid to die, especially after seeing the pain in my loved one eyes when I had awoken.
September 29, 2012 was the day that I started my new life, a different way, without the use of drugs. I went into a sober house for 8 months so that I could have more structure in my life, as my way obviously wasn’t working too well. I wanted to build a stronger foundation in my recovery process, and gather more “tools for my toolbox,” to help me along in my journey. I wouldn’t wish the demons that come with the disease of addiction on anyone, however, it molded me into the woman and mother that I am today. My process truly made me dig hard into my life and discover things that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. It forced me to face death, and gave me the chance to choose life. The struggles that I encountered during my active addiction have made me stronger because I overcame them with what little strength and hope I had left. Today, I help addicts/alcoholics, in active addiction and in recovery, from a tent in the woods, to a detox setting, a shelter, their house, their loved one’s houses, the telephone, social media, a meeting, word of mouth, etc. There are many avenues and methods of contact to continue personally and professionally helping the ones that are as lost as I once was.
I had no dreams or passions, per say, at that time in my life. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize how intriguing the disease of addiction was to me. After realizing that I hadn’t ever questioned my career choice thus far, I decided to return to school. It was and continues to be a promise to myself, a challenge that I intend to succeed at, a personal goal that I know that I can and will achieve, and another way to inspire my daughter. Showing her that anything is possible in life, if you put your all into it.
My personal experience with addiction has made it possible to continue to have empathy and compassion for the population that I help serve. My upbringing has also contributed to the person that I have become, with the morals and values instilled, in which I carried along the way.
Today, I take one day at a time, it’s what was suggested to me a long time ago. However, I know my future is full of endless opportunities, filled with detours, challenges, avenues, hurdles, emotions, blessings, growth, etc. An open road for me to do or become anything that I put my mind to, or challenge myself to, learn from, or overcome. My work ethic, drive, persistency, empathy and compassion will see me through. Life is a cake walk compared to how life was while being held hostage by a drug. My gratitude for life’s blessings today is without a doubt, immeasurable.