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. In the last five years of my sobriety 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 graduate student at the University of Michigan, a mentor at my local community center and an employee at Dawn Farm, a treatment facility for people like me. 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 5 years ago.