Jessica’s Story – Recovering Beautifully.

“You know I hate when you just stand there and stare at me,” my husband said from the couch, barely looking up from his video game.

“Yeah, but I married you, which means that I get to stare at you whenever I want,”  I replied as a mildly defeated, sort of smug smile formed on his face.

I had a habit of staring at him at random times, without actually saying a word to him. He hated it. I think he thought a stare from a woman meant a fight was about to ensue, but this just wasn’t one of those things. I stared at him like a child stares at the gates of Disneyland the first time they see them. Pure amazement. Because having someone marry me, especially someone who was a good person, happened to be the high school love of my life, and cared about my children and I equally—was not something that was always realistic for me.

In fact, being a woman with anything to offer another human being was a recently new development. Because five years ago, I was useless, helpless, and dying. Because five years ago, I was an active addict.
I’d like to say that it was my grandmother’s death, my mother’s battle with cancer, my emotionally troubled childhood, or my failing out of my first semester of college that propelled my journey into darkness, but the truth is that the signs were there since childhood. I was always a little chubby,  because I loved food and found comfort in it.

Next was love. I loved love, and felt pain when I was alone.

Next was t.v.  I would find myself obsessing about the news, or crime documentaries, or the end of the world, to the point where my family thought I was crazy.

As I made my way through high school, I found other obsessions; partying, shopping, and driving too fast down empty back roads in an attempt to fill the growing void in me. I followed these vices, especially the partying, through my late teens, eventually finding pills.

It was a summer day, I woke up late in the afternoon, something that was happening more and more often lately.  I remembered that someone had given me a pill the night before. “It’s a Perc 15,” they had told me.

Just like any other day, I took a shower, had coffee, and on this day, I took this Percocet, like it was Tylenol… like it was no big deal, like it didn’t hold the power to change the course of my entire life.

Instantly – it felt like a flash of lighting, or a scene change in a movie.

I soon found myself waking up in the morning and thinking about pills before anything else. I would look at my phone to figure out where I could get them, debate on whether or not I’d have time before work or if I had enough money to get some.

It happened so quickly.

My family members had struggled with alcoholism before, but this was something I didn’t recognize. I remember telling myself, “This has to be the last time. This has to be it,” about a million times. I wasn’t this person. I was from a small town, a town where you could get grains for your chickens, breakfast, and stop at the pharmacy, and still be within the same mile. Only people raised in cities were like this. This didn’t happen here. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I got caught in a time where pills had just started their true surge into our small town.

My downward spiral from that ordinary day when I took my first pill happened quickly. For as many times as I thought I had control, or that everything was fine, there were twice as many times that I couldn’t get out of bed, thought I would die from this sickness, and thought that I would be alone when they did eventually take me.

In a two year span—I stole, destroyed relationships with people I loved, ruined trust, ruined essential facets of my life, sold possessions, and lost everything else.

The amount of pills I needed to function multiplied, day after day, until I hit a wall, and nothing helped the sick feeling that came with the morning sun. I made bad choice after bad choice. I found myself in a hole that took two years to make—but that five years later, I’m still seeing the affects of.

Then came that cold morning in November, when everything changed.

My first, and only love came back into my life through a simple text message. He came to my apartment to pick my daughter and I up and take us out. After strapping her car seat into his car, he buckled her in, shut her door, and looked up at me with a concerned look on his face, “You look exhausted.”

I was.

I was so tired… I was so worn out. I spent so much time getting ready for him to see me – and he saw right through it.  He saw the pain, and the exhaustion, the life that I had tried build out of nothing. He also saw past that, to the person he knew years before. It was that day—in the driveway of my old apartment—that I decided enough was enough.

Within a few months, he and my father moved me out of that apartment and over the next year, two of the greatest men I’ve ever known stood by me while I slowly put the basic pieces of my life together.

Being a veteran of the Army, my fiance was tough, and he taught me how to toughen up. He called me out on every excuse that I made, and helped me rewire the part of my brain that I thought I would never change—my impulse to live by lying.

I would love to say that was all it took, a miracle meeting of two hearts to change my path, and that this was how it ended, but it wouldn’t be that easy, and there was much more work left to do.

I started on a maintenance program, and through the next year, learned how to be accountable again. I found local Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and slowly worked the steps on my own. I never really found a sponsor, but instead I found a job that I loved working with my future husband. My boss happened to be an amazing and understanding man, who saw my potential, expected a lot from me, and yelled at me when I needed it like I was his daughter.
I made amends to people around me, but instead of using words to do this, I let my actions speak for me. I woke up in the morning and got my daughter to school on time; I made plans with people, and I kept those plans.

I went to meetings, I kept my house clean, and I learned how to be an adult. It took a while, but eventually people saw the change in me and I had an overwhelming sense of responsibility to never disappoint them again.

Around the same time I was going through my journey, my brother was on a parallel path. Together, we fought separate but equal battles to make it to the other side alive and well…by the grace of a power greater than ourselves, and the support of our loving family, both of us made it.

It’s been three years since I first felt the feeling of a healthy, mind, body, and spirit again.

In these three years, I’ve had a second beautiful daughter, and married the only love my life ever knew. We got married on top of a mountain, with our two daughters by our side, surrounded by everyone we love and on that day, it was pouring rain.  We took that as a sign of good luck.

Each and every morning when I wake up, I think about how lucky I am. My life could have been so different. Sometimes, my husband still struggles with my past, with a battle he thinks I shouldn’t have had to fight, but I’ve learned to live without regretting mistakes, despite the struggles that we still face because of them. If it wasn’t for that battle, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have the strength and understanding I need to get through the day and I wouldn’t have the compassion or direction I need to pursue my dream of being an addiction counselor.

Without that battle, I wouldn’t have the gratitude to know that every day holds a gift. And that gratitude—the idea of being grateful, always in all ways—makes every moment worth it, and gives me joy that comes each and every day with the morning sun…


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Annie’s Story – Recovering Beautifully.

My name is Annie and I am a addict.

I come from a family of addicts. My
mother, father and siblings battled this miserable disease
long before I did. So let’s just say the odds have been stacked
against me since I escaped the womb.
My parents were also extremely abusive to one another.
I can remember as a child
having so many emotions, and never knowing how to work
through them. I would get so angry that I would punch holes in the walls,
because I never learned healthy
ways to cope with things.
My home was full of confusion. One
minute my parents are laughing, and in the next my dad would have his hands around her throat.  I had always looked up to my older sister as a role model, until I was 11 and she introduced me to pills.  It was then that my “humanity-switch”, instantly turned off.
When I took that first
pill, all of my worries and fears just… disappeared. It felt as though I, myself,  disappeared as well. I used for so long, that I eventually became mentally
and physically dependent on dope. Along the way I lost many
loved ones as a result of addiction—including my first love.  We had been together for five years, and he overdosed and died at the age of eighteen.
During my active addiction, I got pregnant and gave birth to a gorgeous
little boy. It wasn’t long before he was taken away from me, and all of my rights
were terminated…because I couldn’t. Stop. Using.
I’ve been in and out of jail since I was thirteen-years-old, and I’m a two-time
convicted felon. My addiction was so strong, that I truly believed that
without dope in my system – I could not survive.
I was a bag of bones, filled with shame, guilt, fear, hopelessness, and insecurities.  I was homeless, stealing from others, selling myself, and begging for a dollar.
On July 13th, 2014, I was at Lowe’s helping some people steal things, that they would later exchange for money.  Security caught on to what we were doing, and stopped us.  It was then that they realized I had a warrant out for my arrest, for violating Drug Court.
The police promptly escorted me to jail, to serve my time for the violation.

I have been clean ever since.

I was sentenced to a
rehabilitation center, and for the first time in my life… I found hope. I had always known that I wanted to be clean, I just didn’t have the power to stop on my own.
Once I was forced to stop by going to jail—I took full
advantage of the situation. I made a conscious decision to stay
in the rehab, and give myself a fair chance at a new life.
I graduated the program, and went on to a Sober Living facility.  I stayed strong, and continued doing the right thing, eventually graduating from Sober Living, and Drug Court as well.
Life is beautiful today. I have three and a half years clean, a
certificate in cosmetology, I have become a mother to a beautiful  little girl who is nine-months-old, and I am recently engaged to a wonderful man.
So much has changed—everything has changed, and it happened by taking life one day, at a time.
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Check out my book, “High Achiever: The Shocking True Story of One Addict’s Double Life”.

Nikole’s Story – Recovering Beautifully

**Warning – Triggers**

Growing up I had a tough life.

My father was a police officer, and my mom was a prescription drug addict. My father’s new wife not only kept me from my mother, but she also abused me.

By the time I was almost twelve, I had run away from home five times.

The fifth time I ran away,  I ended up at my mother’s house. I didn’t know at the time that she was a drug addict, all I knew was that it felt a hell of a lot better than being abused.

I will never blame the way I turned out on my childhood, because that isn’t what started my drug use. I used to be someone before drugs got a hold of me.

 At 24 years old, I was a single mother of a four-year-old and had held a job working with the mentally handicapped. I was struggling, but I was making it. At that time, I knew nothing about drugs. And my mother being a prescription drug addict, was just a normal part of life for me.

I have suffered from severe back pain since I was 16 years-old, and one day in particular, the pain was worse than normal. I complained to my mother about my back trouble, and she responded immediately with “Here honey, take this, you’ll feel better”, as she handed me a pill.

That was it. That was that one pill, that began the destruction of my life.

Over the following six years; I moved several times, struggled to find more drugs and gave up custody of my six-year-old (to an extended family member.)

One Lortab pill turned into ten pills at a time, and eventually even that wasn’t enough for me— because as we all know, its never enough.

When my best friend introduced me to Roxicodone, everything changed. It was the greatest feeling I’d ever experienced and I quickly began snorting them. Anywhere from five to ten pills ( how ever many i could afford) went up my nose everyday, no matter what.  My life revolved around getting high and figuring out where that next pill was going to come from.

The lying, the manipulating, the pills… life was going downhill fast.  I had nothing left to live for, so why not stick a needle in my arm and become a full blown IV drug user?

And that’s exactly what I became.

On October 3rd 2014, I made the courageous decision to get help. One day I was so dope-sick, and so tired of life. I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself, “You’re going to die, you are going to die if you do not stop.”

That’s when I decided to check myself into a state-run detox center in Florida. I stayed in detox for three weeks, and when I got out I went to stay with a family member, away from the city, the people, and places I knew to get drugs.

A couple months after getting clean, I met the wonderful man I now call my husband, and life started looking up.

I was clean, and I was married on March 20, 2015. (yes very shortly after deciding to get clean), and I began gaining trust and respect back from my family.

Then it happened.

We were forced to go live with my mother and before I knew it, life caught up with me… and I relapsed.

This time, it wasn’t even pills… I relapsed on crack cocaine.

Within two months, I drained my husband and I’s bank account to .43 cents.

 I will never forget the day I had to tell my husband— the man who had been there for me through everything— that I had relapsed. And all of the money he earned working 60 hour weeks to support us… was gone.

 That day nearly destroyed us, but my husband didn’t give up on me.  He wanted to, and we were to the point of divorce, but his mother sat him down and explained, “She has a disease, you have to understand that, because you have the same disease. I did this with you for ten years, don’t give up on her.”

I was forced to go back into detox, and although I knew it needed to happen, I didn’t expect it to be in the back of a police car after a long night of smoking crack.

I was checked into the CSU for two days because I had threatened to commit suicide, and after I left there, I was transferred back to the detox for three more weeks.

While  in detox, my husband made arrangements to quit his job, and move us over 300 miles away from my hometown, to his.

It’s now been almost 2 years, and I have achieved so much.

We have been married for three years, I have held the same job and lived in the same home for two years. I got my drivers license back, and best of all… six months ago, I received custody of my 11-year-old daughter.

Life still has its ups and downs=, but I’m extremely happy to be on the road to recovery with my husband and daughter. We just celebrated our first Christmas in six years together, and I truly couldn’t be happier.

On March 4, 2018, I will celebrate two years clean.

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