“I’ve struggled with my addiction for as long as I can remember. The journey leading up to my decision to finally get sober was a long, hard road filled with drugs, toxic relationships, prostitution, self-harm, overdoses, psych hospitals, and treatment centers. I grew up in the metro Detroit area of Michigan, and ever since I can remember I’ve had an addictive personality. I struggled with depression, and I never quite felt like I fit in anywhere when I was younger.
When I was in middle school, my parents got divorced. I am the oldest of four kids, and seeing how hard the divorce was on my parents and my siblings really put a heavy burden on my shoulders. My depression worsened, and my addiction started with self-harm. I got so good at hiding my emotions so I could appear strong for my siblings, that I became completely numb to everything around me. I would cut myself with razor blades as a form of release. It helped me feel anything at all. This went on for a while, and I started to become suicidal. My parents noticed that something was going on with me and when I told them what I had been doing, they had me admitted to the psych hospital. When I was there I met a girl who started to talk to me about her vice…drugs. I remember her saying they ‘made her feel invincible; like nothing else in the world mattered.’ I remember thinking to myself that’s exactly how I wanted to feel, and that was the moment that sparked my interest in drugs.
When high school started, so did my downward spiral. I got into an extremely abusive relationship with a boy who I thought loved me. He was physically and emotionally abusive to me, and he put me down so much and so often that I genuinely believed that was all I deserved. When that relationship finally ended, my drug use skyrocketed. I had been smoking pot and drinking occasionally (as most high-schoolers do) but when the boy and I finally split, I started to hang out with an older crowd of people because I had pushed away all of my ‘good friends’ because I wouldn’t leave my toxic relationship. I felt completely alone, and what I used to do for fun became a chore for me really quickly. I started showing up to school high and drinking every night so I could escape all of my racing thoughts, anxiety, and depression. I started to get really close to a girl who was very into pills at the time (Xanax, Percocet’s, Oxycontin) and the second I decided I wanted to try them, my world came tumbling down. It’s like they say in the program, ‘one is too many, and a thousand is never enough.’ I couldn’t stop. The feeling of invincibility was overpowering, and I finally felt free. Nothing else in the world mattered except my next high. I didn’t care who I had to steal from, who I hurt in the process, or what kind of horrible situation I had to put myself in to buy my drugs, I was going to get them. No matter the cost.
My addiction to pills went on and got worse over the span of a year, and halfway through my sophomore year of high school, I couldn’t hide my addiction anymore. I was failing school, skipping class, and I was high all the time. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. One night, after a bender I went on the night before, I had to go to a family holiday party. I still had a lot of pills in my system, and I had multiple glasses of wine at the party I was at because I was starting to get withdrawals and I needed to feel some kind of high. That night on the car ride home with my entire family in the car, I blacked out. According to my mom I was on the phone with my friend in front of all of my siblings talking about how we were going to go out and get loaded together that night, and I asked my parents to drop me off at her house. When they said, ‘no, absolutely not,’ I freaked out. I reached around the front seat where my mom was sitting, and punched her in the face. My little brother was sitting next to me, and I hit him, bit him, scratched him and threw a fit. I then opened the car door on the freeway and tried to jump out of the car. Thankfully my brother grabbed me, held me as tight as he could, and cried while I continued to hurt him. That was my parents’ last straw. They took me straight back to the psych ward where I detoxed for 9 days, and they pulled me from school. When I got home from the hospital I was still very out of it, and I was very angry with my parents. I didn’t want to stop getting high.
I continued to act out, and I started abusing Coricidin (triple C’s) because it wasn’t showing up on my weekly drug tests. However, like everything else, I wasn’t able to hide that for long, and that was it for my parents. The next morning I woke up to my dad waking me up at my mom’s house (which was weird in itself for me because my parents were separated).
‘You need to get dressed. We’re going to the airport,’ he told me.
I hesitated and fought it at first, but finally gave in and went. On the drive to the airport my dad told me he was taking me to a wilderness program in North Carolina called SUWS. I had no idea what that was going to entail, and I was scared out of my mind. He dropped me off in Asheville, North Carolina, and that was where I spent the next 56 days of my life. Alone, with a group of about 7 different young women, in the middle of a forest. I wanted to die at first. We hiked miles and miles every day, had to learn how to strike and bow drill fires, set up traps, and we even had to crap in a bucket. It was basically a hardcore intervention. I didn’t speak to my family for the first two weeks I was there because I was so angry, but as the letters they wrote to me started to come in, and my mind finally started to clear from all of the drugs, I started to realize the affect my drug use had on them. I felt horrible. I decided in that moment that I was going to try to stay sober and change for THEM. What I didn’t realize in that moment was that no amount of me changing for someone else will ever keep me sober. I had to want it for myself, and sadly, I found that out the hard way.
Flash forward to my graduation from SUWS of the Carolina’s, both of my parents flew out to watch me give my grad speech. I was so happy to see them, and I was so ready to come home. Little did I know that I wasn’t actually going home after those 56 days in the wilderness. After the ceremony, my parents sat me down and told me they had been talking to an aftercare specialist and they said that me going home right away wasn’t the best move for me. They decided on an all-girls therapeutic boarding school in Rimrock, Arizona. It was called Copper Canyon Academy. They choose this place because it was a school, as well as a residential treatment center, and since they had pulled me from school halfway through my sophomore year and sent me to treatment, I had a whole lot of catching up to do if I wanted to graduate with my class. So off we went from North Carolina, straight to Phoenix, Arizona, and from there to a little town in the middle of the desert where I would spend the next 16 months. I didn’t see my family for the first four months I was there. It was a very strict program, and if I didn’t follow the rules they would take away our privileges, including parent visits. I finally realized that if I didn’t kick it into gear, I was never getting back home, so I finally started working the program. I finished the half of my sophomore year that I missed there, and my whole junior year of high school there, and when I finally graduated from the program it was time to finally go back home.
I thought that going back and finishing up my senior year of high school with all of my old friends at my old school was what was going to make me happy, but that wasn’t the case at all. First day back at my old school and all eyes were on me. The stares, judgement, no one wanted anything to do with me. I felt more alone and judged than ever before, and it wasn’t long before my drug use started back up again in full swing. I started dating a new boy, who was even more abusive than the first one, and to top it off, he sold drugs and was a huge partier. He was into harder drugs than I had ever experimented with before, and I wanted him to love me, and to think I was cool, so I agreed to try them with him. It started out with snorting cocaine, but that escalated very quickly. The second I snorted that first line, it was like the doors to a whole new world had been opened for me. I had never felt so good before. Our relationship revolved around sex, drugs, and abuse. It was a never-ending cycle. I was completely dependent on him and our sick relationship. I had no friends, no job, and the only time I was ever really happy was when I was high.
In the midst of all of the craziness, I met a girl who I instantly clicked with. We got very close, and she convinced me to leave the boy for good this time. I moved in with her and out of his house to downtown Detroit, and the partying continued. She was a stripper, and she introduced me to the lifestyle she was living, and I was infatuated by it. Fast money, flashy life, and drugs galore. It wasn’t long before I started working as a dancer in the strip club with her, and then my life took an even darker turn. I was at work one night in the bathroom, and me and another dancer were doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom. She pulled out another bag of drugs that looked different from all of the other drugs I had done before, and I asked her what it was.
‘It’s heroin. Do you want to try it?,’ she replied.
I was scared, but curious, and I snorted a line of it. Biggest mistake of my life. I instantly threw up, but after the initial shock of it, I fell in love.
My heroin addiction grew worse and worse, and soon that was all I wanted. Nothing else gave me the feeling that heroin gave me. I needed it to survive. I spent all of the money I made buying it, and I was so sickly from using it all of the time that I didn’t have enough energy to even work at the club anymore. So I went to drastic measures, and started prostituting myself for money to feed my addiction. I was raped, abused, and taken advantage of on multiple different occasions. I put myself in terrifying, life threatening situations for money. One of the men I was sleeping with for drugs offered to shoot me up for the first time one night when we were on a bender, and I agreed to it. When he stuck that needle in my arm and I felt the rush of the heroin inside of my body, I never wanted that feeling to stop. That’s when I stopped snorting heroin and started using it intravenously. This went on for about three years. I was living a double life, trying to hide my heroin use from the few friends I had, and completely avoiding my family.
One night, after a long bender, I bought some heroin from someone I didn’t normally buy from because my dealer wasn’t answering me and I was starting to get sick. Turns out, the batch that I got was laced with Fentanyl, and the second I shot it up, I overdosed. I was out cold for 5 hours, and somehow by the grace of God, I woke up. I laid there and cried. I didn’t know what had happened to me, and I felt so hopeless. My life was a mess, and I finally realized in that moment that if I didn’t stop, I was going to die. And deep down inside, even though I was hurting, I knew I didn’t want to die. I called my mom and told her everything that had been going on with me, and she agreed to help get me to treatment. This was the first time in my life that I made the decision to get sober for myself, and since that day, I have managed to stay sober. My mom picked me up, I packed a bag, and she took me to a treatment center for 90 days in Manistee, Michigan, where I detoxed and came to my senses again. I finally started to work an honest program, and my aftercare specialist and I agreed that I needed to get out of Detroit. There was nothing left for me there. So right when I graduated from my treatment center, the staff took me to the airport, and I came to California for residential treatment and sober living.
I ended up loving it so much out here, and creating such a strong sober support system for myself that after treatment was finished I decided to stay indefinitely. I moved into a sober living home, and when I got 9 months sober I started managing a sober living home for women, and trying my best to give back to others what was so freely given to me by sharing me experience, strength, and hope with them. I still have my moments, and I still struggle, but I finally can deal with those things head on. Not by drowning them out with substances. I’m so grateful for the program and all of the people I have met along my journey that shared their hope and strength with me. I wouldn’t be here without them today. I will have 3 years sober on 5/22/20, and that is the most clean time I have had since I was 15 years old. Don’t give up on yourselves! There is ALWAYS hope!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Blake Moncur of Orange County, California. You can follow her 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.
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