February 2, 2018
I was raised by a single mother who worked very hard all my life to make sure I had everything I needed and a lot that I wanted. I had a great childhood and was very sheltered. My mother raised me to be independent, encouraged me to pursue my education, and to be all that I could in life. Throughout school I was very social, made good grades, and was a cheerleader. Outside of school and sports I had a full-time job at a Peebles department store in town. My life was very full. In high school I started drinking on the weekends and smoking marijuana occasionally to fit in, make friends, create bonds etc.
I can assure you that becoming addicted to any substance was never intentionally planed for my life, and I did not grow up with hopes and dreams of becoming a drug addict. I had hopes and dreams for a productive future. I had hopes of one day becoming an elementary school teacher, finding a partner, building a family, etc. After high school I enrolled in college at Morehead State University and did well my first year. I was traveling back home on weekends and met a guy who introduced me to the first pill I ever tried. Out of curiosity and wanting him to like me, I tried my first OxyContin at the age of 20. The first time I tried this it was euphoric, immediate relief; the best feeling I had ever felt. I had no worries, no troubles, and any problem I thought I had just seemed to go away. I feel that it gave me confidence and courage, which I would soon find out were completely false.
I continued to use this substance on a daily basis being that this “boyfriend” seemed to have endless supplies. After a few short weeks of dabbling in this substance daily I woke up one day and was physically sick when I didn’t have one. It was literally in the smallest time frame and I was having physical withdrawal from this drug. I couldn’t stop. I managed to hold life together in the beginning, I transferred home to Big Sandy Community and Technical College and continued my education there, and I also continued to work full time at the Peebles department store. Somehow in this time frame of 2 years I was able to obtain an Associates in Arts from Big Sandy, however my addiction had progressed so much that I was not able to further my education past that point.
At this point I had developed a 200 dollar a day habit or more and I had said and done everything I said that I never would. My life was in shambles and I did not know how to get out. My whole life purpose was getting and using and finding ways and means to get more drugs. I wanted to quit so badly. I wanted to just feel normal again; I felt so powerless. This substance controlled my every being. I had attempted Suboxone clinics and Methadone clinics with no success. At this point I had gotten in with some people who had presented a “business plan” to me. They basically did some mathematical calculations and were like if you sell this for this amount for us you can make this amount of money/drugs, etc. While under the influence of extremely powerful drugs, I thought this was a great idea. Needless to say, I was not a good drug dealer. I was caught very quickly in my attempts to sell drugs to make drugs to maintain an ever-growing habit. I was convicted of 3 felonies pertaining to trafficking. From 2012 to 2014 I was in jail or rehab more than I was free. I always had the best of intentions upon being released but I didn’t let go of the old people and places. I would return to using because that’s all I knew to do; it had become my coping mechanism for life. At times I would pray to just die. I was sick of failing, I was sick of disappointing people. I was using drugs against my will.
On June 8th, 2014 I went to visit my probation officer while under the influence once again. She immediately put handcuffs on me and took me straight to jail. Thank God for the criminal justice system. In that moment I was sitting in the drunk tank once again thinking “What has my life become, how did I get to this point?” I had a moment where I was like “This is going to be my life. If I don’t do something differently this is where I am going to spend my life”. I feel that something shifted in me at that moment. Thank God the judge and probation officers saw something in me worth saving. They sent me to a faith-based treatment center in Gadsden, Alabama called New Life for Women. Thanks to Operation Unite I was able to get a Unite voucher to help pay for my treatment.
This program didn’t just change my life, it gave me a new life. During this time I really took in everything I could from this experience. I built a relationship with God and came to know my worth in Him. The lady who is the director of this program shared her testimony one night and it inspired me. She was a recovering addict, convicted felon, been where I had, turned her life around, and found a purpose. I was deeply inspired by her story and I had my first glimpse of hope. Maybe my life wasn’t over, maybe I could turn things around. For a long time I felt confined by my mistakes, that I had gone too far, that I had destroyed any potential for my life. I’ve learned anyone can head down a destructive path, but it’s all about the choices you make after that destruction.
I stayed around 7 ½ months at this treatment center and came back home to Kentucky. Once I was home I knew I had to change everything. I immediately got involved with a 12-step fellowship which has saved my life. I find identification in the rooms of the 12 step meetings. I identify with people who have been where I have and have somehow made it out alive. I find accountability in the fellowship. If I am not there they are messaging me wanting to know why. Through working the 12 steps I have been able to accept I am powerless over drugs and alcohol and I can’t just use one and stop. I have accepted the fact that I cannot successfully use drugs and I cannot beat the legal system. In my experience the only way for me to stay clean and grown spiritually is complete abstinence. I attend meetings regularly, have a sponsor, work steps and sponsor other women.
My clean date is June 9th 2014; I have a little over 3 ½ years clean today. Since being clean I was given the opportunity to work at a substance abuse treatment center for women called Hope in the Mountains, located in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. I went back to school in 2016 and graduated from Lindsey Wilson College with my Bachelor of Arts in 2017. I work as a Substance Abuse counselor and I am currently enrolled in Lindsay Wilson College’s Master’s program. I get to work with women in recovery every day with hopes that I can maybe touch one life the way that mine was touched. My life has transformed over the past 3 ½ years and I could not have done it without God, my family and the 12 step fellowship.
What was your aha moment?
When talking with a counselor in treatment, telling her I just felt like I had done too much wrong, I had destroyed everything, and I could never do anything productive with my life because of my felonies, she looked directly at me and said, “We serve a Big God,” and I believed her with all of my heart. If God doesn’t put limitations on the possibilities for my life and what I can do, then why am I doing it?
Feelings and emotions in active addiction:
Worthless, defeated, wanting so bad to stop but didn’t know how, powerless, hopeless, helpless
The driving force that keeps me going when times get tough:
God and The 12 step fellowship I am involved with.
Advice for the addict still struggling.
There is hope, ask for help, go to treatment, get to a meeting. If I can get clean anyone can.
What obstacles or road blocks have you faced in your recovery?
Mainly just dealing with my own fears of public opinion and public perception. I have had to practice a lot of courage over the past 3 ½ years. For a long time it was really hard for me to even go out in public or face people because I had so much guilt and worried about their thoughts of me and my past actions.
What is something you want people who never struggled with addiction to know?
Addiction is a disease. I don’t think that anyone grows up with hopes and dreams of becoming addicted to drugs.
What advice do you have for family members of a person in addiction?
Tough love is the best love, don’t enable them, if there is breath there is hope. Don’t give up.
Recovery is a never-ending process. Just like I worked so hard every day to feed my addiction, I have to work hard every day to feed my recovery and spiritual growth.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.