If you asked anyone five to ten years ago where I would be in ten years, you would likely get answers like “in jail”, “strung out”, or “dead.” Back then, I was stuck in addiction. Every move I made was somehow connected to getting my next fix. Heroin is a powerful drug. And while it didn’t start there, that is where it ended up. From the age of about 13, maybe even younger, I was always looking for something to numb the pain of life. Something to make me feel good. Alcohol, weed, LSD, whatever I could find. I had no fear. Then, sometime in my mid twenty’s, a bad car accident led to a pain management doctor and a lot of opiates. For me, taking pain pills was like being fully charged and then some. My mood was fantastic, I was productive, no pain, no problems.
I was addicted before I even knew addiction was a thing. For the longest time, the prescriptions did the trick. Then something changed. My body got accustomed to it and it wasn’t the same so I started taking more. And more. Then someone suggested I try something stronger. It came in a capsule and was like “really strong Percocet’s.” And then they mentioned that you should never inject it because it’s so much stronger. Well, what do you think I had to do then? Of course I had to try it. And like this “friend” said, I loved it. It was the most amazing rush I had ever felt and I felt invincible. For about four hours. And then I needed to do it again. That started something that I still deal with today.
In the beginning, I was unaware that it was actually heroin that I was doing. That sounds ridiculous and naïve. It is. I had always said I would never try that. The girl that introduced me to it knew that. That is why she presented it that way. Easy to see all of that now. I still can’t believe I didn’t know. By the time I learned what I was doing it was too late. I was gone, gone, gone. It had such a hold on me that nothing… let me emphasize, NOTHING mattered. This, my friends, is heroin addiction.
I grew up in Manteo, North Carolina. My brother died when I was four and my mom died when I was five. My dad, understandably, was a little disconnected. Alcohol was his friend. I spent a lot of time with my friends. He eventually remarried and when I was in fifth grade we moved to Virginia. That’s when things changed. I don’t remember when or exactly how it all got started. I know that crack was one of the first “real” drugs I tried. I had been drinking. LSD was early on the list. Weed was a convenience. I hung out with older guys. Somehow during all of this I still managed to maintain straight A’s and play basketball, softball, and volleyball for the school. I stayed grounded because I was always with the wrong crowd or coming home intoxicated. So when I was seventeen years old I left home. I moved to Richmond with my boyfriend. I drank and smoked weed, worked, and ate whatever I could afford. Sometimes I couldn’t afford food at all. I left him and met another guy and at eighteen I got pregnant and married. This would have been a good time to get it together, but no such luck. I still partied. I worked and went back to high school. I was Mom. Not a great mom. I did get it together for a while. I loved my son. I just didn’t know how to parent.
I thought that I was going to be okay and then the car accident happened. I got on pills, added some coke, and then met that wonderful person that introduced me to heroin. I spiraled fast. It was on and off for a few years, but looking back it feels like a lifetime. It was dope and coke all day, every day. That’s all that mattered. I didn’t mean to neglect my son and every other aspect of life, but that’s all I could do. It was the most powerful feeling I have ever felt in my life. To be able to get in the way of your love for yourself, your family, your child… it’s bad. It still hurts and makes me nauseous to think of my behavior even today. Eventually it lead to breaking the law to get money to get high. That led to being arrested. Then arrested again. And again. So that lead to a whole new problem. I had more than a few arrests. Possession of controlled substances, larceny, driving charges, and it goes on. I kept getting arrested, going to jail, then getting out and doing the same exact thing. Insanity much? So, I quickly learned why they call it the revolving door.
In 2012, something changed. I had been feeling different and found out I was pregnant. That was devastating and terrifying. I could only imagine how much damage I had already done. I didn’t think there was any way I could possibly sustain a pregnancy with my lack of nutrition and drug use, so I just used more to numb out the reality of what was going on. But she was still there. With a little help, I managed to get to the methadone clinic. I was so scared. It took about three weeks to stabilize and get comfortable, but I still was having a hard time staying away from heroin. Then I received a letter from my dad and a check. It basically said he was sending me that money and goodbye. He had already buried two kids and a wife and he wasn’t going to bury me. He also mentioned that he didn’t even know me and that I was pretty much already dead to him anyway. I was a shell of a person. Turning point! Majorly. I ripped up the check, mailed it back, and stopped using. I’ve been in recovery ever since. Four months later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She keeps me strong.
Today life is different. My son forgave me and is very supportive. He doesn’t look at me as the addict, terrible mom that put him through hell. My life is good. I have a good job. I am a student. I bought a house and a nice car. Five years ago I was lucky to buy something to eat, so I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished. My daughter and I are very close and she is spoiled rotten. I completed Peer Recovery Specialist training and am working on getting certified and giving back to the addict community. I have dreams and I can see a future now. God brought me through the darkest time in my life, but it made me. It gave me the life I have now. It gave me the opportunity to give Him credit for being here today, to show love, patience, and understanding to people who need it. And to give HOPE. That’s what matters to me. Being able to bring hope to someone who may have been ready to give up. Or to someone who may have already given up. Because without hope, there’s no change of changing your circumstances. I am here today, over five years clean to show that RECOVERY HAPPENS!