“At the age of 13 I picked up my first drink. I was a little nervous and worried about how it would make me feel but my friend told me she had drank before, that it felt good and it was a lot of fun. I thought, ‘Hell yeah.’ Being the depressed, anxious kid I was, I’d try anything that would make me feel good. After that first drink, I couldn’t stop. I drank myself into a blackout that night. The next day I couldn’t wait to do it again. I loved the warm, numb feeling it gave me. And from that moment on, it was downhill.
Soon after, I started sneaking out of my parents’ houses, lying to them about where I was going and skipping school to go drink and party with my friends. Somehow we always had someone there old enough to buy the alcohol for us. Hanging around with older kids I was introduced to a lot of things early on, from huffing ‘dust off’ and NOS, to smoking weed, and doing cocaine and ecstasy. Drinking before school in the parking lot, in class from a water bottle, leaving the school prom early to go drop ecstasy… For some reason I never saw any of that as a problem.
I only got caught by my parents a handful of times, one of them being when I was arrested in another city for being drunk underage. My dad had to drive an hour and a half to pick me up at 2 a.m. from the police station when all along he thought I was sleeping over at a girlfriend’s house. The first thing my stepmom told me when they get there was, ‘YOUR LIFE IS OVER.’ I lost everything for a month that time and the few other times I was caught after that. I never learned my lesson though. I always found a way around it until I reached 18 and was able to leave their house.
I left to go stay on a friend’s couch so that my parents couldn’t stop me from what I was doing. Of course it was a party house, so I continued to get f*cked up and experiment with more drugs. I somehow held together a part time job but always ended up back home for periods of time because I relied on them financially. My parents never really knew the extent of what I was doing. I had become so good at lying and hiding things from them.
My life became all about drinking until I blacked out, driving blacked out unsure of how I made it home safe the next day, trying whatever drugs were around me, waking up the next day still drunk or coming down off whatever drugs I had done and not remembering half of what happened. Waking up in stranger’s homes unsure of what happened but just feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Somehow, I never saw it as an issue. I even thought losing my virginity in the back of a van at 15 years old, wasted, by someone older who had been coercing me into it for months, while his friends watched, was normal.
My self-esteem was so low that I surrounded myself with unhealthy people. I allowed people to use me for my body. I let guys walk all over me. I needed the attention that I felt I never really got when I was little. I remained in toxic relationships with guys who used me, cheated on me, verbally and physically abused me. My family never knew any of this because I knew they would try and put an end to it all and I just couldn’t allow that to happen. That had become my normal, my comfort zone, and I didn’t want anyone to take me away from that. I was okay with all of it because the alcohol and drugs helped numb me.
Right after I turned 21, I got pregnant from my boyfriend of 2 months. We decided to keep the baby. It was a miracle that I stayed away from alcohol and drugs that entire time. Though I didn’t stay away from the physical and verbal abuse. As soon as I gave birth to her and they gave me pain meds, it was back downhill again. I started abusing pills when she was 2 months old and continued breastfeeding the next year and a half while taking them. I tried to justify it by telling myself it can’t REALLY affect her just through my breast milk. All the while, her dad was smoking OxyContin and heroin.
That toxic relationship came to an end pretty quickly. I moved into my grandma’s guest house with my best friend because I couldn’t afford to be on my own, especially with my daughter. They made sure I always had a job or was in school. I was a functioning addict, so they had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors. All I was concerned about was going out and getting loaded. Pawning my daughter off on whoever would take her. Paying her dad to take her so that I was free to do what I wanted. He was still using, so I knew if I offered to pay him to take her, he would. If someone couldn’t take her, I would just bring the party to me. My daughter would wake up in the morning to find me still loaded from the night before and random strangers around the house. I thank God to this day that she was too little to remember any of that.
At this point my pill addiction had gotten out of control. I got to the point of taking 40 10mg Norcos a day. I had tried OxyContin before and puked my brains out so I was afraid to try anything stronger after that. I began stealing money from my family members, pawning their jewelry and forging checks up until the day my dad noticed thousands of dollars being spent from my grandmother’s account that he helped manage. He confronted me about it and I finally came clean. He told me, ‘I’m taking your daughter from you until you get clean and are ready to take a drug test.’ So over the next few weeks I found a way around it, I started taking Suboxone that I got from my dealer, and got high off of that because I knew it wouldn’t show up on a drug test. So once I had the pills, any weed or cocaine out of my system, I took the drug test and got my daughter back.
I continued to abuse suboxone and Xanax because it got me high and it was cheaper than norcos. I decided I finally wanted to stop it all, so I went from one thing to the next to try and quit. From norcos to suboxone to suboxone and Xanax to Xanax and alcohol. I was at the point of depression and mental exhaustion that I didn’t think I wanted to live anymore. I decided to take a handful of pills at my grandma’s house after putting my daughter to bed. I hoped it would kill me, but I think in the back of my mind I didn’t think it would, so it was really just a cry for attention. I woke up feeling like complete sh*t so I just kept on drinking from then on to numb myself and numb any withdrawals from the pills. Barely eating, scrounging together whatever money I could find when I woke up to go straight to the liquor store, throwing up after that first drink and then continuing until I couldn’t feel anything. I weighed 93 pounds by that time.
My dad knew something was wrong but I avoided him at all costs so he wouldn’t find out. My mom knew something was up and wouldn’t allow me at her home. The day came that I was finally kicked out of school for never being there. I hadn’t been able to hold onto a job, so school was the only option. I knew he would find out that I wasn’t going anymore and be forced to take serious actions against me. I got to the point of desperation. I couldn’t mentally or physically handle the way I had been living. I knew I couldn’t go on this way anymore. I called my dad and broke down.
‘I need help. I need to go to treatment,’ I finally told him.
‘Ok, I will make some calls,’ he said.
He got me in somewhere 2 days later.
I knew nothing about rehab or recovery so I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect. Within 3 hours of being there I called my dad crying, begging him to pick me up.
‘I will change! I will never use again!,’ I said.
He broke down crying over the phone, pleading with me to stay. I had never heard my dad cry in my life. He begged me, ‘PLEASE ASHLEY, please do this for me.’ It broke me and I realized I have to do this, I have got to put an end to this.
I stayed in treatment for 45 days. I felt like a whole new person. I welcomed the boyfriend I had when I went to treatment back into my life which was my first mistake. He got in my head and I started to believe that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I just went to treatment for pills. I picked up a drink with him, and the rest of the night is a blur. I went on a drinking binge all over again. My family threatened to send me back to treatment but I promised I would go to meetings and get a sponsor, so I did just that. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, get a sponsor and make friends at meetings. I forced myself to be strong for once and cut out the toxic people I had always surrounded myself with because I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t stay clean. Doing so changed my ENTIRE life.
If it wasn’t for the rooms of AA and NA and the people in them, I would’ve never stayed clean. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like family. I met my best friend in there who had become my sponsor. I met my husband in there and we now have a baby boy.
My now 7-year-old daughter is happy and healthy and by the grace of God doesn’t remember much of the past because she was still at such a young age. My husband and I just celebrated 2 years clean and sober a few months ago, and I would’ve NEVER imagined that possible. It truly does work if you work the program, if you give the rooms a chance and form relationships there. It can and will bring you a life you would’ve never imagined. Just the way it did for me.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Hubbard. 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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