"Today, I have a wonderful support group, a network full of loving, amazing people who genuinely care and understand me."

I started using heroin at the age of 16. I never thought I would be the one to touch a hard drug. I grew up in a rich, suburban neighborhood; my mom was a chemist and my dad was a retired police officer. I had extremely strict parents. I was on the honor roll, maintained a part time job, and had tons of friends. Who would’ve thought that I would eventually turn into a someone addicted to heroin?

It all started when I met this guy at the age of 15. He was a beautiful person, inside and out. We were dating for about a year at the time, so I trusted him. I spent every weekend at his house. One night while at his house, him and another friend of ours spent an entire hour trying to convince me to try heroin. I was terrified, but my friends were doing it, and I thought I was smart enough not to become addicted. I always wondered how a person could rely on a drug to survive. I thought I was smarter than that; I tried it one time and fell in love.

My boyfriend and I started doing heroin on weekends. Then we would do it whenever we had money. After doing it a few days in a row, I became mentally and physically addicted. I remember wanting to die rather than feel the pain of withdrawal; I was in so much pain that I couldn’t function. I had to lay there and suffer. My brain told me “you only have to spend $5 on a bag of heroin to feel better.” That’s where my addiction really took off.

I started stealing, lying, cheating, and really hurting the ones I loved just to get this drug just so I didn’t have to feel that pain ever again; I was trapped in this vicious cycle. It was almost as if my brain was rewired to only care about this drug. I didn’t want to think or act the way I was. I became depressed, and my only source of happiness was that little blue bag. My tolerance became too high to snort it, so my boyfriend started making me shoot it; that way we could spend less money on it. I was terrified of needles. I was doing everything I always said I would never do. Every time I tried to get clean, my boyfriend would be using, so I would end up using too. It was a terrible, heartbreaking cycle. I tried to get clean on my own many times, but heroin’s wrath was all too powerful.

I became pregnant at the age of 17. I needed help, badly. My child did not deserve to be born into addiction. I went away to my first detox center at the age of 17. At the time, it was illegal to detox a pregnant woman, because detoxing could harm the baby. I was put on a methadone program; Methadone was the only drug FDA approved for pregnant women. I had to take methadone every day, and if I didn’t, I would become sick with withdrawal. I had to go to a methadone clinic every morning, pregnant, at the age of 17. Luckily, my daughter was born with no withdrawal. I was on methadone for 2-3 years, using heroin on and off on top of the methadone, until I finally decided to taper off of the methadone as well. Once I stopped taking methadone, I was sick, suffering, and withdrawing, every single day for a month straight on my couch until I transferred over to a Suboxone maintenance program. I was still using on and off on top of suboxone too.

I was reckless; doing any drug just to take me out of myself. Every drug you can think of or name, I have most likely done. I didn’t even recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. I couldn’t focus on my college courses. I couldn’t maintain a job for more than a few months. I couldn’t stay sober throughout the day; my life was slowly falling apart. The drugs even stopped working. I was stealing, lying, cheating, breaking the law, and hurting others, all for a 5 second high. Then I would spend the rest of my day, looking for ways and means to get more. I tried to get clean for my daughter multiple times, but for some reason my brain would tell me I could “control my using.” I would end up relapsing each and every time. I eventually become homeless, I had nothing, and no one left. I was broken, beaten down, and using drugs was not even fun anymore; to me it just meant survival.  I decided to fly down to the recovery capital of the world, Florida, for treatment. I detoxed off of all drugs and completed a 45-day treatment program. I attended IOP groups and lived in halfway houses. As much as I had learned in Florida, it still wasn’t enough to keep me clean. I came home 3 months later, back to PA, and went to another inpatient treatment center nearby. When I got out, I attended NA meetings regularly.

This is why I am sharing my story. Today, I have a wonderful support group, a network full of loving, amazing people who genuinely care and understand me. I have a beautiful daughter who I get to watch grow up, an amazing job, and my own apartment. All thanks to sobriety. I went from being homeless, stealing and selling my body for drugs, to living a beautiful life. I couldn’t be more grateful for my NA family and friends I have met throughout this process. I work on bettering myself each and every day.

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