In honor of September’s annual recognition of National Recovery Month, we introduce you to “B,” a participant of JEVS Achievement through Counseling & Treatment (ACT) program.
It all started with an ex-boyfriend. I often think about how different my life would be had we never crossed paths. When my ex introduced me to Percocets, it was love at first sight. All my fear, all my pain, all my worries instantly disappeared. I found the feeling I had been searching for my whole life.
It all started out innocently enough. That was until I woke up one day sick. Then everything changed. Using pills was no longer fun, it was a necessity. I could not get out of bed without pills. I could not sleep without pills. I could not do anything unless I took pills.
Pills slowly took everything from me. I dropped out of college. I avoided all of my friends. I stole from my family and hurt them over and over again. Pills robbed me of everything I ever cared about.
Heroin came soon after. Within three months I lost everything. I was now homeless and jobless. I had nothing but the clothes on my back. Every day was exactly the same. Wake up sick, sell needles to get money, and get well; over and over and over again. Words cannot describe the hell of addiction.
Worse than losing material things, I had no self-esteem, no self-confidence and I hated myself. Do you know what it’s like to not even be able to look in the mirror because you don’t recognize the person staring back at you? I do. I did not look in the mirror for years because the person looking back at me terrified me. I despised the person I had become. Every day death looked sweeter and sweeter. Addiction is a horrible existence that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I bounced in and out of rehabs. I was in and out of psychiatric hospital. Nothing worked. What they say is true, addiction ends in one of three ways: jails, institutions or death. I had been in jail and I had been in plenty of institutions and nothing worked. I thought death was my only way out and I fantasized about it frequently.
Then one day I was saved. I had reached rock bottom and I was ready to get clean. I went inpatient, I got on methadone. I decided I was ready to take my life back.
I wish I could say it was easy once I made the decision to get clean but it wasn’t. I remained homeless for another year. As hard as it was, I maintained my sobriety. I was able to get a job and then get an apartment. It took two years but things were finally starting to look up.
I used to be against methadone. I thought that people on methadone were not clean. I now know differently. Methadone saved my life. It gave me the ability to get off of heroin and to slowly, but surely, begin to see things more clearly. It was as if one day the fog lifted and everything just started making sense. I am now working in the drug and alcohol field and I love it. To be able to work in the same methadone clinic that saved my life is a blessing beyond measure. To be able to give back and help those that are still suffering is the greatest gift.
Every day is not easy. Sobriety is not easy, but neither is life. I still suffer from anxiety and there are days that I let fear rule my life. The thing I don’t do is turn to a drug to mask those feelings. I have been sober for four years and I cannot remember the last time I had a craving to use heroin. I walked through hell and back in my addiction but I can now say that I made it. Being an addict has made me who I am and today, I am proud of whom that person is.
“Sobriety is not easy, but neither is life.”