‘I stole from my daughter’s piggy bank. Nothing was off limits’: Mom’s candid admission about heroin addiction

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“I was exposed to powerful narcotics early in life. I got very sick around 12 years old, and eventually was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I always liked the ‘loopy feeling’ the medication gave me. But I was a kid. Young and naive to what that kind of thing can do. Boy was that a sign of things to come. That ‘cool loopy feeling’ would become my life’s greatest desire for many years.

Things settled down with my Crohn’s and I went back to living a normal life. I graduated high school with honors! And an unplanned pregnancy. But I loved being a mom. And my first daughter, Ashlyn, quickly became my world. Her father and I were admittedly young and dumb. He was out running around, and I wanted to keep my family together. So I followed. He dabbled in doing pills here or there, and once in awhile, I felt pressured to join the crowd he was hanging with and dabbled a little myself. My daughter was home safe with my mom. I would’ve done anything to keep our ‘family’ together. Looking back, I realize how foolish it was, out chasing a young guy who didn’t want to be tied down while my mom was raising my daughter. But I was 18. And very naive to the world.

Amy Jackson

Eventually the relationship fizzled out, but we would still try and make it work here and there. It never worked. And never lasted. One day I was driving down the road and saw lots of cop lights in the rearview mirror and heard sirens. All of a sudden, I was slammed from behind and I saw a car veer off the side of me and straight into a telephone pole. A drunk driver running from the police struck me, killing himself and a fellow passenger in his vehicle. I was taken to the emergency room and given my first prescription painkiller as an adult. Following up with my family doctor, I was put on more pain killers, and the prescription continued every month.

After about a month, I probably didn’t need them anymore, not for legitimate pain anyway. But I kept picking them up. And for over a year, I did this. I was addicted and never even knew it. I was completely unaware that you could become addicted to a legally prescribed pill. This was before the drug epidemic of prescription pills. I knew ‘drugs’ were bad. I never touched a ‘drug’ in my life at this point, but this wasn’t a ‘drug,’ it was just a pill. Eventually, the doctor didn’t want to write the prescription anymore. And I was faced with my first experience of ‘dope sick’. It was awful, and I didn’t want to deal with it.

Amy Jackson

I knew a friend who knew a friend and was able to buy a few pills off the street. That quickly became my life. That and ‘hospital shopping’. Since I had a legitimate ailment, I could make a trip to a local ER and walk out with a prescription. My ex and I would hang out often and use together. Drugs were our priority, not our daughter unfortunately. My mother is so wonderful, and always took care of our daughter thankfully. A little time later I met my now husband. Chris was a friend of my ex and he dabbled here and there as well. When you do pills, you quickly find friends and a circle that suits that lifestyle.

Amy Jackson

Instantly I was in love with this man. I would call him all the time to invite him down to have ‘fun’ or ‘party’ when I had some pills. Sadly, I fear I drug him deep into an addiction he may not have otherwise gotten into, but it happened. We began using together and it quickly became worse and worse. More money needed, more pills needed, two addictions to feed. He made it clear from day one he ‘wasn’t interested in dating,’ and for a long time he wasn’t. But about 3 years into it, we became official. We loved each other, but loved the drug more. It was number one in both of our lives. He kept a job for a good while, but eventually, addiction made it impossible to keep a ‘normal’ job. I found ‘employment’ online as a web cam ‘model’. There was no modeling involved. It was anonymous web cam sex with strangers for drug money. Anything I had to do to support the habit was just something that had to be done.

I stole from stores to return merchandise for gift cards I could sell for 50 cents on the dollar. I sold everything I owned. There was never enough money. Never. Then someone introduced us to heroin. It was cheaper and lasted longer. We had gradually graduated from 5 mg pills to 30 mg pills. The 30s went for $40 a piece. I was shown I could get a big bag of dope for $40 that would keep us from being sick longer, it would give us a good feeling, and would go farther between the two of us. I thought it was such a better alternative. Man was I wrong. The sickness from heroin was so much worse. It was hell on earth for DAYS. It became my mission to never go through withdrawal.

I began stealing from my family. My mother’s jewelry, my dad’s power tools, my sister’s electronics. My daughter’s piggy bank. Nothing was off limits. I used my own daughter as a pawn. By this point, I moved into my own apartment, but left my daughter safe with my mom. I would still try to see her and spend time with her when I could. But I would also hold her ‘hostage’ until my mom gave me money. I was a horrible human being.

Amy Jackson

I was eventually offered a job stripping in real life. I took it. It was cash money daily that I needed. My boyfriend, who loved me, would beg me to go strip for strange men so we could get ‘off sick’. I did so many horrible things for money. I destroyed my family. They never gave up on me, they always loved me, but they HATED who I became. They dreaded every phone call.

My sister’s wedding day came. She asked me to be her maid of honor and begged me to not show up high. I told her if she wanted me there, I wasn’t going to be there sick. When we all got ready for the ceremony, she put on her wedding jewelry, and in a split second, I saw her turn and I swiped her gold necklace with her class ring she always wore. On her wedding day. I pawned it and knew I was good for another day.

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We started seeing more and more stories about people overdosing and dying from fentanyl laced heroin. I loved Chris more than anything, but when we got dope, I would make him be the guinea pig. If he didn’t die, I would know it was safe. It was sick. I was so sick of the life. The never-ending hustle. The failed rehab stints I was forced into by my mom who threatened to call the cops for the check of hers I forged. Chris and I decided this life wasn’t worth living anymore, and together, decided to get off the heroin, and we did what we needed to.

We both quit at the same time and have never looked back. We are both going on 5 years heroin free. We live a quiet, normal life, just working and living. I built a relationship back with my daughter and my family. And life is good. Chris had said from day one he’d never get married or ever have kids. We’ve been together almost a decade now. And we are coming up on our second wedding anniversary this October. I was given the greatest gift ever after getting off dope. I don’t know what changed his mind, but I am so grateful.

Amy Jackson
Amy Jackson

We had a BEAUTIFUL baby girl, Lilyanna Grace. She’s my second chance. My second chance to be a mom. To do it right this time. I have both my girls and my husband and life is wonderful and beautiful again.

Amy Jackson
Amy Jackson
Amy Jackson

Addiction is such a lonely dark world. You literally cannot see the light. It seems impossible to get out from under, but it can be done! And life can be beautiful again. I am a mom again. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A wife. I’m so grateful for my second chance at life. Heroin will NEVER be a part of my life or world again. I beat you heroin. I win!

If you know someone in your life struggling, please don’t ever give up on them. Even when we’ve all but given up on ourselves, just keep having faith and supporting us in getting clean one day. There is definitely a fine line between supporting and enabling, and an addict will absolutely use any inch given to them to gain a mile. You do have to be vigilant. That $10 they’re asking for food or cigarettes, will never go to that. You have to love them. But you don’t want to love them to death! Be there for them, and tell them when they’re ready to start a journey to sobriety, you’ll be right there to walk the path with them. It’s such a hard thing for not only the addict, but the family. You WANT to help, but there’s nothing you can do. We have to get clean because it’s what we want.

Amy Jackson

I tried to get clean for my mom, my dad, my daughter. It couldn’t be done. But when I wanted it, truly wanted it, it was much easier to achieve. You really do have to hit rock bottom. There were no more handouts from my family. No more money. Nothing else to get me by. It wasn’t worth it anymore, and I’m so glad I finally woke up. A lot of people think we enjoy our miserable lives. It’s just not true. No addict wants to be an addict. It’s not a fun life. It’s a horrible, dark world full of despair and desperation.

A lot of times there are underlying issues; traumas or feelings that we try to numb ourselves from feeling. But you have to face the misery of the demon bringing the dope sick, tantalizing you with knowing it’ll be gone just like that, with a quick little shot. Knowing if you don’t, it will be days and days of agony. It’s a daily struggle. But once you get over the hump, it does get easier. Day by day, it gets just a bit easier. And after so long, you’re back to the you that you were before. The normal person who can see the beauty in the little things: A beautiful day, sitting outside in the sunshine and knowing you don’t have to do anything to make sure the day will be good, but to just be.

My family is so proud of me, and truthfully, I am so proud of myself. I’ve become a productive member of society again. I work and take care of my family. I’m still trying to rebuild all the mistakes I made, but I’m getting there! Slowly getting out of debt, buying things back that were pawned so long ago. My life is far from perfect, but it’s truly a beautiful life. I’m perfectly content living my simple life with simple things and enjoying every little thing I have in my life. Through the grace of God, I got out. I was lucky. So many are taken by the demon and losing their lives way too soon. Gone before they decide to finally get out and to fight back against addiction. If you are struggling, please get help while you still can. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Life can be beautiful again! I promise. Don’t give up.”

Amy Jackson

‘Unfortunately, heroin had other plans’: Mom’s tragic account of losing teen to opioid crisis

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Jackson, 29, of Bellaire. Ohio. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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