“I’m not really sure if alcoholism is genetic or not but it is scattered across my family. I happened to catch it. I had my first drink when I was 9 but didn’t get drunk until I was in middle school. I also dabbled in pain pills but swore them off when I saw the consequences of them around me. After graduating, I hit all the parties and came up with a fake ID to get into the bars. I thought I was doing what all 18-year-olds do. But I quickly found out that my drinking wasn’t like my friends and it wasn’t normal to drink like I did or behave the way that I did.
I drank and partied on and off for the next 4 years until I felt like it was too noticeable to continue. I thought pain pills would help me function better. This way of living brought me to my knees quickly and I found a 12 step program in a hospital.
I tried to get sober for the next 4 years. I’m not sure if I wasn’t ready to get sober, if I couldn’t surrender, or if I just wasn’t willing to change my behavior. Ultimately, I didn’t stay clean.
When I found heroin, it was like the whole world had turned a shade of gray. There was nothing shining or colors of pastel. The brightest of mornings were gloomy.
Heroin was like nothing else I had ever felt before. I never want to love something so strongly again. I had struggled with alcohol, pain pills, and Xanax before but heroin was different. It ran through my veins and I no longer had children, family, morals, respect for myself. The only time I was high enough was if I was close to an overdose. The only fear I had was not having enough money to buy more dope. Panhandling and sleeping in cars were a solution for me, not a problem.
You really have no warning when you’re turning into the stereotypical ‘junkie.’ I didn’t even know I was capable of being ‘that’ girl. I stopped bathing or brushing my teeth. I learned more about boosting. I remember army-crawling to steal money from my grandma. It was a blink of an eye and I didn’t know myself anymore.
I remember going to cop heroin with another girl once. We couldn’t get ahold of our usual so we drove around looking for a dope boy. When you flash money, you can always find someone to rip you off. He told us to pull in and come through the side door of this big apartment building. We did as told. No one was there. We made our way to a stairwell and a guy came out with a bandana around his face. He shoved the gun into my temple and screamed at my using buddy to give him the money. To be honest, at that moment, I wish he would have pulled the trigger. I was broken, poor, and sick. He took the money and screamed at us to leave. The craziest part is it didn’t stop us from going to the next unfamiliar spot looking for dope.
This was the only normal life I knew. Day in and day out, my life was at stake. On another occasion, I remember shooting up and it burning. I didn’t get as high as normal. So I figured I had missed. I’d missed a few times before. No big deal. I just needed to cop again sooner than later. I continued to use the same spot for the rest of the day. It was the ‘good vein,’ the only one I had left. That night, I snuck an ice pack out of my grandma’s fridge to sleep with on my arm because it hurt so badly.
My arm was swollen four times its normal size the next morning. My running buddy had to drive my car because I couldn’t steer it to do what we had to do to stay well for the day: boosting, stealing and copping dope. I couldn’t figure out when would be a good time to go to the emergency room. Before I got high? Hell no, the abscess was the last thing on my mind. After I got high? I didn’t want those doctors and nurses killing my buzz. I let it go for days, maybe over a week.
Then my arm busted open. I wasn’t like them: the ones with the scars everywhere, the girl with the tracked-up arms. But here I was. The swelling, hole, discoloration, and drainage looked so bad, even my running buddies were worried, if that tells you anything. They decided if I wouldn’t go to the hospital, then they were going to do something about it. One person held me while the other drained my arm. It’s hard to feel pain when you are as high as I was but it was excruciating. I screamed, cried, and tried to fight my way free for a good 20 minutes.
I remember sobbing, standing over that sink, staring at my arm. Thinking about what I had done to myself. Wondering how much farther I was going to let myself go. I ran out of that house, called the dope boy frantically, and begged for a front. I drove to the city with my arm throbbing.
Dope fiends live so fearlessly when it comes to dying. As many times as I said the prayer for God to take me out of my misery, I really never thought I would be one to overdose. I was supposed to get sober again that day. I had every intention of not using after work. I linked up with a girl that was struggling, actually was looking to me for help. I pulled her through hell that afternoon.
I remember the dope boy telling me to not mess with anyone else around the projects because they were selling rat poison. We got the heroin and went back to my grandma’s house. I was just going to do a little bit and then go pick my daughters up from daycare. I know that’s horrible, but I didn’t have the best judgment. We did the same amount. I’m not sure what happened. The last thing I remember was trying to catch my balance by grabbing ahold of the bed. She tried CPR on me for about 10 minutes. Once I started turning blue, she had no choice but to go get my grandma. This is the worst part of it all.
My grandma is my favorite person in the whole world, the only person that takes me in when I’m a screw-up. The lady that has taught me unconditional love saw me laying there, overdosed. My poor grandma never deserved that. I woke up, screaming in pain. I had busted my head when I fell down. I was now in withdrawals and I had an IV in my arm. I opened my eyes to paramedics. My grandma and that girl were crying. I was shocked. I never thought it would happen to me.
The paramedics had to hit me again with Narcan in the ambulance. When I got to the hospital, the nurse told me I was the fifth person to overdose by 3 p.m. that day and I was the lucky one. I didn’t feel lucky. My overdose scared me sober for about a week. It took me a few more years to find my way. If my life wasn’t saved that day, my daughters would be among the kids that lost their parents to this epidemic. My mom would be visiting my grave. My grandma’s last memory of me would be my body on her floor.
In 2015, I was in and out of nine different institutions until my mom stepped in. I was put under Casey Law (Substance Abuse Intervention) and my life was saved. My mother gave me the choice to go to treatment or go to jail for a year. So I came to Brighton Recovery Center for Women. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t know if I wanted to be sober ever again. I had come to terms with the fact I would die as a junkie or I would live the rest of my life homeless with a needle in my arm.
A staff member at the center told me I was so broken, she wasn’t sure if they would be able to put my pieces back together. But the year I spent living in treatment changed everything for me. I learned how to be an adult, I was loved until I loved myself, and faith in God grew to be something I never knew.
I was coming close to the end of my stay in treatment. I didn’t know what I would do for work, because I had burned every bridge in the phlebotomy field. I was full of fear. Of course, Brighton Recovery wasn’t done with me yet and they offered me the laboratory job inside the center, which I graciously accepted. I have been conducting the drugs screen and drawing the blood orders for the women inside of Brighton for almost three and a half years now. I’ve never loved a job this much.
Within two months of moving out of the center, I moved into my own place, received unsupervised visits with my two daughters and was able to pick them up in a car that I bought by myself. I’m finally a useful member of society and I can take care of myself.
During one of my very first visits with my mom at Brighton, she told me that if this Casey Law doesn’t work, she never wanted to see my face again. A little over a year later, I was able to take my mom to see Garth Brooks in concert and surprise her. She is my best friend now.
I’ll never understand how I went from the life I was living to the one I have now. It is unbelievable and I would have put bets against it. There are not enough words of gratitude and there are too many people to say ‘thank you’ to. I would have missed it all.
Today, I am married and we bought our first home. I am a mom now and present at all their school events. On the hard days, I get to go to work and receive all the love in the world from the current clients at Brighton. I have been able to travel and take my kids to the beach. I’m learning who I am and loving ‘that’ girl.
I am an alcoholic and drug addict who has been sober since September 1st, 2015. It still seems extremely surreal to have the amount of sobriety I do.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Davita Beaven. You can follow their journey on Instagram. You can also follow the Hope Shot Moms on Instagram and Facebook. 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 the Hope Shot Moms:
‘I keep telling them to give up on you. I don’t know why they won’t listen.’ The officer grabbed my black and blue arms. I was a walking zombie.’: Former addict transforms her life, ‘I was never hopeless. I was never unworthy.’
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