I’m an opiate addict in long-term recovery. This past December, I celebrated five years clean. My story isn’t any different than others. I’m the oldest of two daughters. I grew up as a Navy kid, my parents were still married when my dad passed away from lung cancer in 2014. My addiction started in my parents’ medicine cabinet after my dad was prescribed OxyContin after a back surgery in 1999. That was my first drug; my first love. I found comfort in the numbness, but the pills soon ran out, and that’s when I found heroin. I continued to use after graduating high school with honors, and throughout nursing school, which I also completed with honors. I wasn’t even 21, but I was working as a nurse in a level one trauma center with a full-blown heroin addiction.
On long work days, if I ran out of heroin, I would steal narcotics from my employer. It didn’t take long for me to get caught, and I was sitting in my first rehab facing drug felony charges. For the next 15 years, that cycle repeated. I was in and out of rehab and jail. I was destroying myself and everything around me. Not even the birth of my son in 2010 kept me clean. In 2011, I found myself completely hopeless and facing 20 years in prison for prescriptions I had been forging. I gave long term treatment a chance, and was sentenced to Drug Court. Those two things saved my life.
This is why I am sharing my story. Without long-term treatment and Drug Court, I don’t know where I would be today. I’m now employed by the same company that gave me the gift of long term-treatment. I advocate for drug and alcohol programs to be funded and speak for those too sick to speak for themselves. I am now a mother of three wonderful boys, and the fiancé to the love of my life. I’m a productive member of society, and have the opportunity to give others hope every day. I’m never ashamed of my past, I don’t wish to change it, and I stand before anyone today unafraid of their opinion of me so that I can break the stigma of drug and alcohol addiction.