When I was a kid, there were a lot of things I wanted to be when I grew up. A heroin addict was not one of them. I grew up in a good home with loving parents and a younger sister. Although my life on the outside looked perfect, I always felt like I didn’t belong. When I took my first drink at age 13, that feeling disappeared. I found the answer to all my insecurities. During my teenage years, I experimented with drugs, but I didn’t realize my potential for addiction. I thought my behavior was “normal” and that it was just a phase I would grow out of. My experimentation turned to regular use and by my senior year in high school I was using daily. When I was 18 my boyfriend died in his sleep after we had been partying all night. I didn’t know how to cope with the guilt and loss, and I ended up injecting heroin for the first time.

I spent the next 12 years battling my addiction. I would drink alcohol to keep me off the hard drugs and smoke marijuana to keep from drinking too much. I thought that if I just found the right balance, I could somehow get by. After years of trying to unsuccessfully trying to quit opiates, I found an addiction doctor and was prescribed Suboxone. I thought I finally found the solution to my addiction. After more than a year of maintenance on Suboxone, I became very isolated and depressed. I started drinking again to cope with the depression, and my alcoholism escalated quickly. I was discharged from my maintenance program since I couldn’t remain compliant with their no drug and alcohol policy. It wasn’t long before I was using opiates again. This time it was worse. It only took me a couple weeks to start injecting heroin.

At this point, I had given up any hope that I could stop using. I was convinced that I would spend the rest of my days a hopeless junkie. I lost my job, my driver’s license, my home, my relationships…I lost everything. Heroin had become the most important thing in my life. I was living out of dope houses and I was shoplifting and selling my body to support my habit. I had periods of abstinence while I was in rehab or jail, but I couldn’t grasp the concept of recovery as a lifestyle. I prayed for a solution but didn’t know how to stop.

On January 24, 2014 I was arrested for the last time and I finally surrendered. I was willing to do whatever it took to recover and not go back to the hell I was living in before. After a few months in jail, I lived in a transitional house for 17 months while I attended outpatient treatment and worked on my recovery. I attended 12 step meetings daily and surrounded myself with other people who were just like me. Slowly but surely, my life started getting better.

Today I am proud to say that I am a recovering heroin addict. Through God’s grace, my life has been repurposed. Today I choose to use my experiences to help others who struggle with addiction. I work at a substance abuse treatment center and am pursuing my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I continue to be active in my recovery, attending meetings, working with a sponsor and helping other women to recover.

My life is full of blessings because of being in recovery. I have real friendships with people who are like family to me. But the biggest blessing is being part my family again. I have amazing parents who never gave up on me, a wonderful husband who loves me for me and a sister who I call my best friend. I thank God every day for the life He has given me. Recovery is not only possible, it really does happen!