“I grew up in a smaller town. My parents were amazing, in fact they are still married to this day. I am the oldest of 3 girls, Nicole, Michelle and Christine…The DeMeo sisters. Growing up, life was great. My dad worked nights at the post office and my mother stayed home with us girls. We were brought up Pentecostal. I can remember being made fun of in 2nd grade because I could not wear pants. We had to keep our hair long, no pants or shorts or were allowed, no makeup or piercings, and our skirts or dresses had to be past our knees. No skin showing, if you know what I mean.
My mother kept my sisters and I sheltered. Growing up I always felt out of place, like I just did not fit in. Not just because of the dresses, but on the inside. I felt incomplete. I felt alone, even in a room full of people. By the time I was 14, my mother had left the Pentecostal church and we started going to a non-denominational church. This was so awesome because we could dress like everyone else! I started to come into my own.
That summer I went to band camp. I was very self-conscious about my weight. I was a little chunky, but looking back it was just weight from being younger. My dad was a body builder and spent a lot of time at the gym. He always tried to encourage me to work out and stay fit, but at 14, I took it as criticism. I was very insecure and during camp I starved myself. I came back from 2 months of camp and I was a new girl. I lost 40 lbs and everyone in school could see. I looked hot! I was getting so much attention.
That year I met my first boyfriend and ‘fell in love.’ We didn’t last long. After 9 months, he broke up with me for a skinnier, prettier girl. I was devastated. The summer after 10th grade I met my second boyfriend. He was 2 years older than me and went to the high school in the city. I remember hanging with him and his friends. They smoked pot and drank. I had never touched a drug, but I wanted to fit in. I tried smoking marijuana for the first time one night with my boyfriend and his friends. The feeling was amazing. It made me cough but I loved it!
That school year I made the dance team and my boyfriend and I were going strong. I was becoming more popular and getting invited to parties. Yes! This is what I always wanted. To fit in! One night after a football game we all went to a bonfire party. I noticed some of my girlfriends were in the bathroom and I snuck in with them. They were doing cocaine. I was nervous, but I tried it anyway. Cocaine was amazing. It gave me energy, it curbed my appetite and it made me lose weight. I loved it. I was 17 years old and a senior in high school, I had a boyfriend and my family still did not know I was trying drugs. My senior year is when everything changed. I didn’t care about who knew. I wanted to be high all the time.
Back at home my family was struggling. My sister Michelle had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The state had to step in because my sister was skipping school and fighting. My sister was sent to a mental hospital for 3 months. I was relieved and sad all at the same time. Michelle had been hitting me, my sister and my mom. We were afraid of her and what she would do next. That year I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled. The doctor gave me Percocet. Opiates were so good, but they didn’t make me feel as good as stimulants did. The summer after I graduated, I tried methamphetamine. Once I tried meth, I never wanted to stop. I was 19 years old, working for JC Penny as a makeup artist, going to community college, high on meth 24/7. My parents had no idea how bad I had gotten. I never came home. I stayed out all night sleeping around and getting high. My boyfriend found out and broke up with me. I don’t blame him. I was a mess. I was a full-blown meth head by 20.
After we separated, I dropped out of college and started stealing from my job. I got fired within a month. I was stealing to fuel my habit. My dealer would come to my job and I would hook him up with product. I quickly found another job working for Shoe Carnival. I was a great worker and I quickly moved up to floor supervisor. I was tweaking all the time. If I was at work then I was high. One night after work I went out with some friends and we ended up at a guy’s house. We were smoking and snorting meth all night. I was sitting on the couch totally high out of my mind, when another guy came from the back room. I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘He was so fine!’ He looked Italian. Dark hair and green eyes. That night we talked and before I left the next morning, I gave him my number. That was a Saturday. He finally called me on Thursday. I was at work, so when I got off I went to see him. I fell in love with him. He was homeless. I don’t know why, but I wanted to help him. We slept in my car until we got a one-bedroom efficiency above the strip club downtown. There were rats and roaches. None of that mattered though, because we had each other.
The first 2.5 years we spent getting high on meth and opiates. I found him a job doing construction. I left the shoe store and got a job working for the state. I was making good money but I decided it was not good enough and I started making fake ID’s for people. I would charge under the table. I needed the extra money. My habit was out of control. Not only was I paying for my dope, but his too. Then the beatings started. He would hit me with whatever was closest to him. I started showing up to work with black eyes. Everyone knew, but I lied anyway. I got higher and higher to block out the pain. One day I decided to take a check for one of the fake ID’s and I got caught. My boss made me resign, and told me to never come back. I had nothing without that job. The beatings got worse. Then, one night I passed out because I had taken so many methadone pills. I woke up the next morning and he was gone, and so was all my diamond jewelry. He robbed me and left me. He never came back. I was broken. I had nothing to live for. I packed my stuff and I moved in with my friend. We went on a 6-month crack, meth, ecstasy and opiate binge. I started shooting up methamphetamine.
Once I started injecting meth, everything went downhill. It was already was horrible, but it got even worse. Injecting meth was like the best sex you could ever have. I would do anything to get that feeling. I chased that high for the next 6 months. Then one day I was riding in the passenger seat of my car with my dope dealer driving, when all the sudden… BAM! We were surrounded my 3 black SUV and 2 marked cop cars! I ended up getting charged with possession of a controlled substance, Class C felony. I was sentenced to 3 years probation. I couldn’t even pass one drug test. In 1 year, I went to rehab and was revoked and sent to prison for 1 year. One whole year I was locked up. I went through a lot in prison, and you would think it would change me. NOPE. I paroled out to a halfway house. I tried to stay sober but I just was not taking suggestions. I would only do so much. I relapsed after 6months out.
I went into treatment for 30 days, got out and got a job working for Kroger. Kroger tried to help me. For the next 3 years, I bounced back and forth between work and rehab. One week of partying, I had been up for 12 days with no sleep. I ended up being picked up by the police, walking down the side of the road at 3 a.m. They took me to the hospital and I went into a coma for 7 days. When I woke up, all I wanted to do was get high. That is when I realized I was going to die a junkie, and the bad part was I didn’t care.
Then in 2012 I met Neal. Neal and I were joined at the hip. We were both IV oxycodone and methamphetamine addicts, but we wanted to be sober. We would try and try with no success. In 2013 I got pregnant. I wish I could tell you I sobered up, but I did not. My whole pregnancy I struggled with back and forth relapses. In July of 2015 I gave birth to my son while high on methamphetamine. I was so afraid. I just knew CPS was going to take him, but a miracle happened. He was born completely clean. No drugs in his system. He was perfectly healthy. Neal and I cried and cried. We went home that following Monday and swore we would stay sober.
I was struggling with postpartum depression and a lot of anxiety. After 3 months of breastfeeding I relapsed. My friend threatened to call CPS on me. One morning, CPS did actually show up at my house. I was high. Neal and I both failed for opiates. My son was removed from our care. I left that day and went to rehab. July 13, 2015. I got out, got a sponsor and started going to meetings. We both worked so hard and within 8 months, we had custody of our son back!
My son is now 4.5 and starts kindergarten this year. He saved my life. He motivates me to stay on track. Now today I help share my experience with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) support and recovery. I never want to be hopeless like I once was. I know as long as I stay connected to my God and sober support network, then I can do this. I am not alone!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole DeMeo-Ploudre of Little Rock, Arkansas. You can follow her recovery journey on Instagram, YouTube and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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