I began using drugs at 11, was an alcoholic by 16, and by 18 I was shooting heroin and cocaine on a daily basis. I used IV drugs for 6 years, through periods of jails, homelessness, traumatic relationships and institutions, before I finally found a solution: abstinence through treatment and the support of my community.

I had tried and failed to get clean for 3 years through various methods, including opiate replacement, before I was finally successful. Since December of 2010, I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined during my active addiction.

Through abstinence, I have recovered my capacity to feel, to empathize and to carry myself with grace and dignity. I am a mother, a wife, a mentor and a reliable friend. I am privileged today to be employed and employable, devoting my time to pursuing better policies affecting people with addiction. I believe in my ability to succeed, I treat my loved ones with respect and I act with integrity. These are not things I would have believed about myself when I walked into treatment in 2010.