My name is Ashley, and I have been sober from drugs and alcohol since 14 February 2012.

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit with a loving family, but I struggled often with general anxiety and a desire to fit in anywhere. I started using benzodiazepine and opioid pills around the age of 14 – some prescribed and others not. Eventually, chasing pills became unaffordable and unsatisfying, and I started using IV heroin at 18.

I refused for a long time to admit that I was an addict. I often blamed the school that I was attending or the people that I was with for my destructive behaviors that included failed relationships with friends and partners, slipping grades, general uncleanliness, jails and treatment centers, etc. I maintained an academic career while using heroin on and off for 6 years, and I transferred to schools across the country in an attempt to “get my life together,” living with the idea that it would be different somewhere else. I would sometimes collect several months off of heroin using marijuana and alcohol, but I found myself always going back – even when I had every intention of keeping off of it.

Finally, I was introduced to a recovering community that supports complete abstinence, and I participated in an outpatient therapy group through a non-medical treatment center and lived in transitional housing. I struggled through a physical detox and then still mentally for months afterward, but with complete abstinence and a supportive 12-step community, I have had the opportunity to truly discover myself and grow into a sober, responsible, and confident woman. I have (finally) received my bachelor’s degree while in sobriety and am enrolled in a master’s program in Literature; I have traveled to new places for backpacking and camping rather than in an attempt to run away; I have the very best dog ever that has never doubted my ability to take care of her. Greater than all, I have peace-of-mind today.