Since I was a young girl, I have always battled with insecurity. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I never felt pretty, and I was always comparing myself to other girls my age.

When I was 13 years old, I began dieting and exercising. This obsession would control my life for many years through the forms of anorexia and bulimia. My parents tried to find someone who specialized in treatment for eating disorders, but at the time in Eastern Kentucky there just weren’t quality mental health services available. Without any real recovery and healing, my vicious cycle and obsession with dieting was the beginning of my dark path to addiction.

After finishing high school, I received a scholarship to attend UK. My goal was to become a clinical psychologist and help others with eating disorders like myself. I never partied or went to social events and even had a 4.0 grade point average.

However, during my senior year in college, my struggle with bulimia became so intense that I was having difficulty balancing my school work with my addiction to food. The only times I wouldn’t binge and purge were when I was with my friends, so I tried to be as social as possible. This led to going out to bars and social drinking, because on nights that I was drunk I didn’t feel the compulsion to binge and purge.

My desire to party and drink quickly got out of control. I would always drink until blackout-drunk or unconsciousness, and my lifestyle took a large toll on my budget. I was financially drained by my compulsive spending with barely enough money to keep a roof over my head, gas in my car, and food in my fridge. I had a friend who worked as a dancer in a club and was drawn to the idea of being financially stable and also “desirable,” so I decided to give it a try.

Through nightlife, I was quickly introduced to opiates. I truly felt at the time that I had found the answer to all my problems. When I was high, there were no obsessions, cares, or worries. It didn’t take long before I was getting high every day and began experimenting with other drugs while also drinking heavily daily.

It was around this time that I got my first DUI. At this point, I tried to taper back from drinking on top of my drug use, but that only lasted for a few days. It was also around this time that finding pills was becoming increasingly harder, so I made the switch completely to heroin. At this point, my life was really no longer manageable. I was dancing seven days a week to support my habit, but I was still in denial.

On January 6, 2013, I passed out high and drunk behind the wheel of my car at an intersection. Detoxing in jail was definitely the lowest point of my life.

With my family’s help and support, I was able to go to a rehab center called Karen’s Place for 100 days. It opened my eyes to the world of recovery and helped educate me on my disease. I began to understand why I had been struggling for so long without any real success. I had tried so long to escape and numb my own pain with everything from food to drugs and alcohol, yet they never took it away. In fact, they only caused me more pain in the long run.

More than 7 years ago, I was a broken, hollow shell of a person. I had absolutely no intention to stop using and was absolutely prepared to leave this world at the hands of my addiction. There was a point in time when I truly believed I would never be able to live without some sort of drug or way of self-medicating.

However, I’m happy to tell you it’s been more than 7 years since my last drug use. Today, I have a happy, peaceful life that I never would have imagined for myself. I practice responsible eating habits and even grow a large amount of my own organic food. I also became a mother to two amazing children that have my whole heart. Being clean and sober has given me so many blessings but the biggest blessing is that I am no longer a PRISONER of my addiction.

I am just amazed at my life today and want to share my gratitude for all the people who were a part of my recovery and helped me rise to create this beautiful life from the ashes.