They say that in addiction you hit a bottom. If this is true, I certainly was a low bottom addict. I was living in and out of alleyways in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. I had left a life of relative comfort as a direct result of experimentation with opiates that lead to a full time heroin addiction.
I was attending the University of Cincinnati when I first tried opiates. I was a withdrawn person growing up. As a chubby nerd growing up in Ohio, I always dreamed of escaping my surroundings. I found that escape in drugs. I felt my depression slowly slip away as the pills filled my body. I had tried alcohol, marijuana, LSD sparsely. Nothing gave me that intense feeling of “fuck it, fuck you, I am perfectly okay.”
Soon, the solution became my problem. Fast forward a few years later. When I saw a filmmaker recruiting people, I so badly wanted to be in his film. Not for any personal benefit as there would be no pay. I wanted people to see how horrible my life had become as a direct result of my heroin use. I thought it would be something people could see after I was dead from an overdose or a homicide. The film became “Black Tar Heroin:The Dark End of the Street.”
In February of 1998, I started my recovery in handcuffs. I had tried kicking on my own to no avail. Two trips to methadone and a few horrifying home detoxes did not work for me. I had to commit to trying something completely new- complete abstinence from all drugs. This is the only thing that worked for me after trying all other options. After a brief stint in jail and rehab, I moved into sober living where I stayed for 4 years. They say some are sicker than others. That was me.
In the past 17 years of being off drugs, I have achieved the impossible. I have a loving family with my husband and three children. I have two degrees in a field that I love. I rebuilt a relationship with my parents. I was able to be a best friend to my long suffering mother. Most of all, I have learned to accept myself.
I have dealt with a miscarriage, three c-sections, the death of both my parents, the death of friends, all while staying clean. Clean is an individual concept. There are many roads to the same destination. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Do what works for YOU.
In my spare time, I run a small program where I give out naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote. The program has directly saved 114 lives.
I have become the person my mother wanted me to be. I am grateful to be here.