I have always been an all or nothing type of person. When I was young, my friends and I would play house, pretending that we had families and kids. Out of this pretend world, I began to form imaginary friends – which seems normal for most young children. I, however, took this to the extreme. I had a whole boarding school of detailed imaginary friends who had names, jobs, hobbies, and lives. My imagination ran rampant. Like I said, all or nothing.
As I grew out of imaginary friends and was thrown into the public school system of a rich suburban neighborhood, I came under pressure to be perfect. I was taught that the only way of being successful meant I would go to college, get a corporate job, find a wealthy husband, and have children while saving up to retire in a big beautiful home. The monotony of this idea was boring to me, I wanted to feel adrenaline. I wanted to be exhilarated. My rebellious nature took a hold of me in full force.
The first time I got high, my imagination was fired once again. I found escape from the insecurity that I had so incessantly felt. I was convinced that I could do anything I wanted to do, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.
I found that using mood and mind altering substances worked for me, so I ran with it. I began to get high every day, putting whatever I could get my hands on in my body without a second thought. All or nothing, right?
Eventually, this kind of reckless attitude led me to finding heroin. Heroin did for me what all other substances couldn’t. It brought me to a state of complete oblivion in which I found absolute stillness and inexplicable bliss.
Heroin was my best friend. It was there when I had a bad day and wanted to feel better. It was there when I made good money at work and needed to celebrate. It was there to pass the time when I felt bored. It gave me everything I needed but it took absolutely everything I ever had.
I threw my full ride college scholarship down the drain because getting high was more important than going to class. Heroin ripped away any sense of dignity or morals that I had, turning me into a person who stole from cash registers, manipulated the people I loved, and lied to get what I wanted. I went from being a girl who had the whole world in her hands, to a junkie who wanted nothing more than a fresh needle and a bag of dope.
Eventually, the numb feeling wore off. I wasn’t using to get high anymore, I was using to prevent the sickness of withdrawals from setting in. I wasn’t using because it was fun, peaceful, or quiet. I was using because I had no choice, my body demanded it and my mind was trapped in a downward spiral towards death.
The last time I got high, I was convinced that there was enough heroin in my syringe to kill me. I promised myself that if I miraculously woke up, I would go to detox and rehab. When I woke up, I wasn’t angry. I believe that in this moment I ultimately surrendered to the steel chains that bound me to addiction. I knew two things: one was that I couldn’t get sober on my own, and the other was that I was kept alive for a reason that I didn’t understand.
I don’t want to underestimate the importance of detox and treatment in my story because both served their purpose. Detox allowed me to safely get through the unbearable opiate withdrawals that I was experiencing and treatment allowed me to have a safe place to sleep at night while being separated from drugs. However, the true change that I have experienced in recovery began when I was discharged from treatment.
I went to a sober living home where I lived with four other women who were all working towards the same goal as I was. We were all working hard to achieve long term sobriety. I was introduced to women who had more clean time than me and I followed their footsteps. I began to chase my sobriety just as hard as I had chased my drugs in the past. I wanted everything that these women had and I was determined to get it.