I had a normal childhood. I am the youngest of three; I have two older brothers. My mom never drank or smoke. My dad drank in the evenings or on the weekend, but it didn’t ever get out of hand. My parents worked hard to provide for me and my brothers.

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandparents – going to church, gardening, cutting wood, making quilts, and even helping with canning in the summertime. I was really close to my grandpa.

When grandpa passed away I didn’t know how to express my feelings or how to grieve. I started questioning everything. I placed all these expectations on myself and blamed God for everything happening in my life. I wanted to know why I was attracted to a girl if I was supposed to be with a boy. I felt betrayed.

I remember spending the night with a cousin and stealing some of her mom’s beer. I hated the taste of it, but chugged it down, not wanting her to think I was weak. After a couple drinks, I didn’t feel those feelings of hurt or indifference, and that I could be whoever I thought I was supposed to be.

I began experimenting with anything that could change the way I felt; huffing gas, smoking weed, drinking, or taking pills. By the age of 16, I was smoking weed at night and rushing through the day to get home to find a way to get high.

When I finished high school, I didn’t want responsibilities, I wanted everything done for me, and I wanted to reap the benefits. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I made it through half of a semester of college and had to withdraw due to missing so much. I was using every chance I got. My life was revolved around the getting and using of drugs. I’d plan ahead, making sure I either had drugs on me or was going to be able to get the drugs when I got to where I was going.

At age 22 I moved to Winchester, got a new job, and made some new friends. Only these new friends used drugs, too. We were using drugs that someone stole from a veterinarian. I ended up freaking out that night, thinking that everything was melting and that my cat was going to kill us. I was substituting one drug for another trying to find the one that was going to fix me. I know now that was when I couldn’t go without using. My days consisted of waking up, calling the dope man, using, and going right back to the dope man. The endless cycle.

I even went as far as selling my body to get what I needed, or doing whatever to get the money to buy my next fix. By this point I had no morals, no values, or even cared about how my life was. If I was friends with someone it was only because they had something I wanted. I was doing 10 to 15 pills a day and still wasn’t changing the way I felt.

In 2011, my cousin died. She was my person. We fought like cats and dogs, but we always stuck together. She knew everything about my life and accepted me for who I was.

My hate toward God grew. I was mad because he didn’t take me instead. I knew I had a problem, but I still thought another drug was going to fix my problem. I tried Suboxone because I didn’t want to go through the pain of withdrawing. I still abused this medicine just like everything else.

One day when I went to the dope man’s house, they didn’t have what I was looking for. But, instead, they had crystal meth. At this point, I didn’t care what I got as long as I got something in my body.

My life had been falling apart for years, choosing drugs over everything in my life. Ending up alone, in a shed behind the house with a dog on chain. I hated the world and everything in it. Wherever I went, chaos followed. I had accepted the fact that I would die alone using drugs.

Then my brother came by and gave me the number to a rehab. I called this rehab every morning for a week. It felt like the longest week of my life. All my cocktail of drugs wasn’t working. That instant gratification wasn’t there anymore. I was harassing my ex-girlfriend to the point of if I didn’t stop, they were going to press charges. On that Friday, a lady told me to get my stuff together and come to rehab Monday morning.

Almost 2,500 days ago, on Monday February 15, 2016, there were so many emotions I was feeling on the drive to Prestonsburg. I had a lightbulb full of dope in my pants. I weighed 125 pounds. I had sores all over my hands, arms, and legs from picking at what was not even there. I was dead on the end inside. I spent 90 days in rehab and went to outside 12-step, self-help meetings.  

That is where I found a sponsor and got phone numbers for other women who would help me get another day clean. I soon realized the drugs wasn’t my problem – I was the problem. Through working steps and going to meetings, I was seeing other people just like me stay clean.

I learned that I am completely powerless over my addiction, that I cannot take one pill or one sip of anything. When I left rehab, I felt nervous and scared about going home. There were a lot of changes I had to make in my life. I now wanted my recovery as bad as I had wanted the dope.

I have watched a lot of loved ones die due the disease of addiction. I not only started working the steps, but also applying them to my life. Working through resentments, making amends, and learning how to build a healthy relationship with those around me.

I did not know how to love, let alone let someone else love me. I surrounded myself with others who were staying clean. Learning that no matter how bad of a day I am having, I do not have to use drugs. These people taught me how to be responsible, dependable, and show compassion. I am changing on the inside as much as the world is changing around me. My perspective and outlook on life is completely different today, as it was when I left rehab.

Today, I have worked at a job for over four years. I have been able to pay 96 consecutive care payments.

When in active addiction, I tried to pay for a car with a bad check that led to me having a warrant out for my arrest and ending up in jail Dec. 23, 2016. However, I paid those people their money back, and the charges were dismissed.

I have been able to watch nieces and nephews grow up, watch them take their first steps and hearing them say their first words – some of the things I cherish that I was never able to do before. I have the chance to live the life I want to have. I continue to go to meetings and help others in recovery. I work as a peer support specialist and just recently finished my first semester of college to go into cyber security. I have a car, a home with an amazing girlfriend, and two stepsons that I love as if they were my own.

If you are struggling with addiction, know that there is a way out.