"We do recover, and if I can do it, anyone can. "

I am 32 years old and on November 4, 2017, I will be clean and sober for nine years. I first started in high school with experimenting with weed and alcohol. By the time I was a senior, I was doing pills in the bathroom with friends. I noticed it was fun for them; I began to need the pills to feel normal. By the time I was 20, I tried heroin for the first time. I was instantly hooked, and it was cheaper than the pills I was buying.

Shortly after becoming addicted to heroin I became pregnant. However, this did not stop me from using drugs; I used drugs throughout my whole pregnancy. My life became very unmanageable. I started stealing for my addiction, and most of the time it was from my family. This is when they realized I had a problem. I lost custody of my son, and my grandmother gained custody of him. During this time, I spent 28 days in rehab. I thought I was cured and knew it all; but I relapsed 2 months later. I was on probation for stealing a check from my mom. I just could not stay clean; I lost everything in my addiction. I lost my apartment, job, family, son, and self-worth. I began sleeping with drug dealers and pretty much bounced around. Some days I prayed to die because I was too scared to do it myself.

I received a warrant for not showing up to take my required urine sample mandated by probation. I eventually got caught; I sat in jail for 6 months, where I found out I was pregnant again. I worked with Catholic charities to do an adoption because I did not know what was going to happen to me. I sat in jail for 6 months while waiting for a rehab that accepted pregnant women. They sent me to the other side of the state to a women and children rehab. I spent another 6 months at this facility; I fought tooth and nail to get out. Two months into my stay at this facility, I had my second child. During this time, I also was informed that my son who I had lost custody of was diagnosed with autism. I finally surrendered; and couldn’t live life anymore the way I was going. After completing my 6 months in rehab; I did another 6 months a halfway house, and finally 6 months a three-quarter house.  I felt I learned the tools and was ready to step out on my own.

In 2014 my brother overdosed and passed away. Due to the loss of my brother, I was able to see and reconnect with family who I had not seen in years. Heartbroken and saddened, I found comfort with people who also lost loved ones.

This is why I am sharing my story. I became a drug advocate and speak at schools, jails, churches, rehabs, and to whoever needs it. I volunteer for a group called Sages Army and devote a lot of my time there. I now work for the Substance Abuse Helpline of Westmorland County. I have a relationship with my son and receive updates on my son who I gave up for adoption. I share whenever I can, so I can spread hope and defeat stigma. We do recover, and if I can do it, anyone can. I went from a hopeless person addicted to drugs, to a person who is a productive member of society that helps any struggling person I can.

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