The first time I snorted a Percocet, I knew I had found what I had been looking for; something to fill the void in my soul. Something to curb the depression and numb the anxiety. I had tried Vicodin before, but this was different. My body was warm, my smile was almost genuine, and for once I felt okay in my own skin. I had dropped out of college and was working minimum wage fast food and retail jobs to get by. Technically I was homeless, but my best friend’s mom was kind enough to let me stay there. She was also the only person (outside my small circle of friends) who could see through my bullshit. She knew I was using and I knew I couldn’t hide it from her. She was the only one who ever tried to help me, and when she died, I knew she was so angry at me as I cried, filling my nose with Percocet. That is how I dealt with everything. Time went by, but nothing ever changed. It was always the same cycle of work and finding pills and doing them. Nobody knew I was using, and I was damn good at keeping it a secret. Every rundown apartment and every lonely night was okay with me, because I had a fist full of pills that made everything better. When I met Jason*, his presence took away some of my pain; the rest was numbed with pills. We shared everything, and it wasn’t long before I realized he was my soul mate. We lived together, ate together, went on adventures together, and, above all, we used together. When we got our first apartment together, we were both thrilled. Peace and quiet, no roommates or parents to worry about; it was just us. As luck would have it, our property manager lived below us, and he just so happened to be a dealer, therefore we had an endless supply of my drug of choice. Each day was the same routine: wake up, get high, go to work, come home and go to bed. Wake up just to do it all over again. Until one day, our world flipped upside down. When the test showed positive, I couldn’t breathe. We both wanted kids—but we were both addicts. For nine long months I managed to stay sober. When my son arrived, we were both overcome with a love we had never felt before. As we settled into a routine, parenting became real and we did our best to get through each day. When our property manager came knocking, it became impossible to say no. I was terrified, because now we had a baby to care for, but I couldn’t resist temptation and fell back into the cycle of using. When my son was five months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I was shocked, and a million times more afraid than I was when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I was an addict, with a five month old baby, and another on the way. The guilt of using while I was pregnant, and the fear of getting caught by the police or the doctors was overwhelming. Finally, Jason* and I talked, and we both knew what had to be done. That was my moment. I couldn’t do this anymore. My dad chose alcohol over me, and I could not allow myself to chose drugs over my babies. When I was eight months pregnant, I checked into an outpatient clinic, and one month later, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl and began medication assisted treatment. I know there is a lot of controversy regarding medication assisted treatment, but I made it where I am today because of it. I hear all the time that because I am still on MAT I am not "actually sober". This is part of the reason that most people still don't even know I am a recovering addict. The stigma around those who choose to participate in MAT is appalling. We are doing our best to get by and stay clean and it seems that no matter how hard we try or what methods we use, we are still called "junkies". If taking a medication daily—that some don't approve of— means I am able to take care of my children, hold a job and maintain a 4.0 GPA, I will gladly face their disapproval. Regardless of how someone decides to get/stay sober, I think it is absolutely crucial that we build each other up instead of tearing one another down. Today I am almost 3 years sober. I returned to college to finish my degree in Psychology with a concentration in addictions. I have only a few more months until I finally have my degree, with a shiny 4.0 GPA I have held since my admission. My goal is to help those struggling with addiction. Jason* and I got married, and our babies aren’t quite so little anymore. Someday, when they’re old enough to understand, I will tell them the story of how they saved my life (and their daddy’s too!). Until then, I take it day by day. I am currently in therapy, and my passion for helping others battle their addiction motivates me through even the hardest days. Not every addiction story has a bad ending, we do recover, beautifully.
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