‘I am a mother of 3 beautiful children. I recently became an addict. My story isn’t your typical one.’

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“I am a 37-year-old mother of 3 beautiful, bright children. I recently became an addict. My story isn’t your typical one. Previous to my addiction, I was volunteering in the overdose awareness field. During that time, I had a few back injuries. I was getting back injections every 3 months at pain management facilities, along with Vicodin. I was on Vicodin for more than 3 years.

It started getting out of hand within the last year or so. My husband lost his job and we lost our health insurance. It wasn’t affordable to pay the office visit fee plus the cost of the prescription, so I resorted to buying pills off the streets. That was getting too expensive as well. That same year, I lost my best friend to a heroin overdose. Grief stricken, I wanted to see what was sooooo great about dope that people would risk their lives for it. So, I copped some. The first time I was like, ‘I don’t get it, what’s the big deal?’ I kept doing it and doing it and fast forward to today, I am only 10 days deep into detoxing, but I am happy I made it out alive.

I had an ‘ok’ childhood, but I witnessed things no child should ever have to. My mother was an alcoholic. My father was not in the picture after they divorced when I was 5 years old. I had to be independent at a very young age. I started working at the age of 12; babysitting my neighbor’s kids. I also knocked on doors and asked if they needed help cleaning their homes. By the age of 14, I started smoking cigarettes and pot. Then came drinking and experimenting with pills, nitrous, acid, ecstasy, and cocaine.

Courtesy of Nicol

When I turned 19 I was pregnant with my first child. Everything changed for me. I didn’t even smoke cigarettes. I drank very rarely, socially. I had my second child by the age of 23. I was married in 2006 and divorced by 2009. We partied, but it was just alcohol. I started dating my now husband in September of 2009. We hit it off pretty fast. We drank quite often. In 2011 I had third and final child.

In 2013, I had my gallbladder removed. I was given 90 Vicodins. I took maybe 2 of them and didn’t need them after the first day. I started declining in health soon after that surgery. My digestive track was way off, and I was always tired. I started getting really lazy. Desperate to keep up with my full-time job, the house and the kids, I started to take those Vicodins I had left over from my surgery. They gave me the energy I needed to get everything done. When they ran out, I called and asked for a refill. He gave me one more script of 90. They lasted a while. I didn’t need much then because I didn’t develop a tolerance for them yet. They were only 5 mg and that was enough for me.

Eventually they ran out, and now I needed to think of how to get more of these miracle pills. I went to my OBGYN office and told them my periods were unbearable and I needed to be treated for the pain. Just like that, I was prescribed more. Every month I called in for my script. Then I started having lower back issues. So I went to pain management. For the next couple of years I was seeing them monthly and was bumped up to 10mg. I did get injections as well, but they didn’t work. They tried to give me some non-narcotic pills and I filled them, but never took them. I always came up with an excuse as to why they didn’t work.

In 2016, my best friend that just gotten out of rehab a few months prior, died of a heroin overdose. That hit me hard. I fell into a state of depression. I joined an online group called overdose awareness. That same year, I attended a walk in Pennsylvania for overdose awareness. I got heavily involved in helping addicts. Mind you, I was in denial that I was an addict at the time. I thought it was OK because it was prescribed. I wasn’t like these other people.

In January 2018, we lost our health insurance. I started to panic. How was I going to get my meds next month? I started buying them off the streets. That was starting to become way too expensive. I always swore I would NEVER touch heroin. I was desperate and also curious as to what was so great about this drug that people risked their lives for it? I tried it. I snorted it. I didn’t really see what the big deal was — it wasn’t really that great. I’ve had better highs than that before. I still kept doing it though. It was cheaper and easier to get.

I started to become a hermit. I pulled myself away from family and friends. Some people noticed, most didn’t. I always made up an excuse to get out of going places with people. I just wanted to be home, where I was free to do my dope. As my tolerance grew, so did the dollar amount. I never stole from anyone, but I always found a way to get my fix. Eventually it started getting harder and harder to come up with money. People started asking me why I didn’t talk to them anymore, why I’m never out anymore, etc. I was running out of excuses. I knew I needed to clean my act up. I was constantly paranoid that someone would find out. I reached out to Brandon Novak (the professional skateboarder, actor and stuntman from MTV’s ‘Jackass’ who is vocal about his road from addiction to recovery) and asked for help. He messaged me back and gave me his number and said to call him, and either him or someone on his team will help me. I didn’t end up calling. I knew they would recommend inpatient rehab and that wasn’t happening. Then my cover would have been blown and everyone would have known.

Courtesy of Nicole

A few weeks after that I decided to self-detox. I bought suboxone off the streets. I took the first one too soon and went into immediate withdraw. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. Natural child birth tickled compared to that. I went through that for almost 2 days because I just kept taking more and more subs to try to get rid of the feeling. By day 3, I finally started to feel a little better. I finally slept a few hours. By day 7, I felt almost normal. Actually, I felt exactly the way I did before I started with the pills, tired and zero energy. Luckily I have a sponsor who I check in with daily. I told him I felt like crap and am back to no energy again, the reason I started using in the first place. He said, ‘Let me tell you something sweetheart, your body IS TIRED. It’s been operating at full speed for years on opiates. Give it some time, you will regain your energy again.’

Today brings me to day 10 of sobriety. I had my first dope dream last night. It was me getting dope and telling myself that I have to remember not to do a lot since it’s been 10 days without it, and my tolerance will be down. When I woke up from that today, the first thing I did was call my sponsor. We talked for a while. He reminded me of the hell I just went through and that it would be all for nothing if I mess up and relapse. What has helped me the most through this is waking up every day, and thinking of a reason NOT to use. Before, I would think of every reason why I should. I made myself believe it was OK. I thought that just because I didn’t shoot it, and I wasn’t out of control, it was OK. I was OK. I mean, nobody even noticed or knew, so it couldn’t have been that bad. I was only lying to myself. I was using about a gram a day.

Looking back now, even though the sobriety is still new, I could have bought a car in cash with all the money I spent on heroin. I added it up. It literally made me sick when I saw that figure. Please, if you are an addict, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are like me and kept it a secret, and would like it to still remain a secret, there are options for you to become sober without anyone finding out. You can connect with the We Can Foundation. They will help you, and it will remain confidential.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole of South Jersey. Do you have a compelling overcoming addiction story? We’d like to hear about your journey. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here

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