‘I shot heroin into my IV while in the hospital.’: Recovering addict shares sobriety journey, ‘I’m moving forward’

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Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of suicidal ideation and drug abuse that may be triggering to some.

“I sat on the edge of my hospital bed, sobbing. My doctor knew what I had been doing. She knew I had a syringe in the cabinet above my bed. She knew heroin was running through my veins. She could discharge me any second and I’d be in jail. This was it. ‘How did I get here? I don’t want this life. I am not a junkie. I am lost.’

I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. My parents are still married and I have one older sister. Typical, middle class family. Teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol. It seems to be a ‘normal’ phase for many. However, it was a dangerous phase for me. While certain friends could stop, I would obsess over and over again until the next party. I felt confident for the first time in my teenage life. I suddenly didn’t care about what the other kids thought of me. I started to lose weight and my confidence skyrocketed.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

I was hospitalized after I caught a staph infection from a nursing home at fifteen. My best friend’s mom was staying there for rehabilitation. I had an eczema spot on my shoulder and this is how the infection entered my body. They gave me Dilaudid and my world changed. I suddenly didn’t care about anything. Everything was numb and it was the best feeling in the world.

When I was discharged from the hospital, my two best friends came to visit me at home. They had taken some oxy pills (opiates) from her mom and I was overcome with jealousy. I wanted some. I wanted to feel nothing. When I was sixteen, the need to escape became my number one priority. I was dating a guy much older than me and my parents did not approve. They insisted he was the one getting me pills.

They issued a restraining order. This made me want him more. During an argument with my mom, I decided to leave. As the words, ‘Don’t get caught with Nick,’ came out of her mouth, I snapped. I attacked her. My sister pinned me to the ground as they called the police. I was handcuffed and put into the back seat. I tried kicking out the windows. Rage took over my body. It was fifth-degree assault.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

Juvenile detention was terrifying. I didn’t belong there. I was released a few weeks later and admitted to my first treatment center. When I was seventeen, I graduated high school. I was also addicted to Oxycontin. I was nodding off on stage during the graduation ceremony. My parents held a grad party for me, and the few thousand dollars I was given was solely spent on pills. While most kids were getting ready for college, I was trying to figure out how to find more money to get high.

My old friends from my childhood distanced themselves, knowing I was running with the wrong crowd. My family started to worry, they saw as my body started dwindling down to bones. My parents kicked me out after I was caught stealing multiple times from them. Things started disappearing and I would lie about it. They had enough. My older sister let me stay with her and her roommate. I still remember sitting in their bathroom while smoking opanas (another pain med). Addiction consumed my spirit.

As pills became harder and harder to find, heroin entered the picture. It was cheaper and easier to get. I eventually decided shooting up was the best way to get the feeling I craved. I sat in the living room of my best friend’s house. She tied off my arm, told me, ‘Relax.’ I shut my eyes, unable to watch—and my life changed quickly. There was no longer any hope. I was ready to self-destruct.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

I broke into my parent’s house, looking for something, anything, to pawn. I walked by the gun case and decided to take one rifle. I told myself I would get it back before my dad noticed. Within a few weeks, all the guns were gone. My parents called the police. I downed an entire bottle of antidepressants and shot up the rest of my heroin. I was charged with felony thefts of firearms while I lay in the ICU.

It went on like this for the next five years. Treatment centers were my escape. I would run from the chaos I created and enter rehab. Pretend I was ready to change. It never lasted. I would dream about the syringe entering my veins. The obsession created a monster. I was no longer the young adult with a full life ahead of her. I was a junkie waiting to die. My sister told me one day, ‘I have picked out the songs to play at your funeral.’

Heroin addiction is powerful. It poisoned every aspect of my life. Relationships ruined. Family left devastated. Wandering the skywalk downtown, I would think of ways to end my life. I wanted to nod off and never wake up. I always eventually woke up. In August of 2015, I was driving my grandpa’s truck. I had just gotten done shooting up in the parking lot down the road. As I was driving, my eyes started to cross. I slammed into the back of an SUV.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

The airbag woke me up. Panic took over. While the other driver called the police, I jumped out and ran down the block to the gas station. I hid my syringes in a bag in the dumpster. I ran back. Unable to breathe, I sat down on the curb. I had three warrants out for my arrest. I had just run from treatment and was so high I could barely keep my eyes open. I was done. I couldn’t run anymore.

I chain smoked while I sat on the curb waiting for the police. I thought up elaborate ideas to get out of the situation I had just brought upon myself. I looked a lot like my older sister so I was going to give them her name, but I was tired of running and lying. The cop who came wrote me a ticket told me, ‘Get back into treatment ASAP.’ That’s it. I walked away with my three warrants and heroin in my blood. I ran back to that dumpster and did another shot. I wasn’t even fazed by what I had just gone through.

I was admitted into the hospital to detox. I thought it was going to be easy. I had never had a real medical detox before. I usually just lay on the floor, sweating in the fetal position while taking copious amounts of Tramadol and eating my weight in candy. I figured the hospital would give me good stuff and I’d barely know I was withdrawing. I was wrong. It wasn’t any better. I called my dealer, had my friend meet him and then come visit me and pretend to be my boyfriend.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

The nurse came into my room and I introduced him, using the name of my ex boyfriend. We took turns shooting up in the bathroom. The monitor hooked up to my IV began beeping while I had the shower running, cigarette hanging out of my mouth while trying to find a vein. After years puncturing my arms and hands with dull needles, all my veins collapsed. I started shooting the syringe full of heroin into my IV and the monitor started beeping again.

I panicked and took out the syringe, found a vein in my ankle, and pushed the plunger down. This was it. It was chaos. It was addiction. I have been clean and sober since that day. September 6th, 2015. I was exhausted. There was no home left for me in Duluth. It was time to move on. These past four years have been filled with beauty, heartache, chaos, and love. The first year sober was the hardest year of my life. I pushed through, I reached out and I found connections with amazing people.

I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on April 25th, 2017. My life was no longer mine to destroy. I had a responsibility now. I had a child who was completely dependent on me. He hands-down saved me. He is the reason for everything in my life. He has shown me love. He has taught me how to love myself. He is teaching me to grow.

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

My life is far from perfect now. I still struggle. However, my struggles are different and so worth it. Changing is terrifying and difficult. But I’m always moving forward. I am capable of anything. I have dreams for my life now. I dream of writing. I dream of beauty.

Life is beautiful and I want to be present for every single moment. I can make a difference with my words. I dream to inspire. It is so important to share stories of hope during this opioid epidemic. Anybody is able to transform themselves. I am proof. Beauty surrounds me.”

Courtesy of Maddie Miller

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Maddie Miller. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Maddie:

‘Look at you! What’s WRONG with you?’ Ants were crawling under my skin. I lay on the cold cement floor of my jail cell.’: Woman overcomes felony charges and drug addiction, ‘You CAN recover’

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