There are many things that happen in this world—good and bad. One thing holds true and that is the fact that we as humans will always be fighters. Sometimes there’s that one time that things just click. You become a true hero but not from the start. Many become the underdog going from such illustrious addictions leading into such amazing recoveries.
There is no better way to describe it than by giving you a true heroically put underdog story told by Ashley. Without further ado Ashley:
“If someone had asked me, Ashley, as a senior in high school student, where I would be in five years, I can pretty much guarantee that my response would not have fallen anywhere near the word addict—recovering or otherwise. However, as I sit here writing this, I am not ashamed of whom I am. I have overcome such a huge obstacle, and I am able to understand and appreciate so many more things in life on such a deeper level in doing so. No one is proud to be an addict, but I am proud to be a recovering addict.
My story started out just as many others do, with occasional recreational use of alcohol and minor substances. At that point in my life I had no idea where things could end up or how they would eventually spiral out of control. Within a year or so of the occasional use, it became a more regular occurrence. As opposed to using every other weekend or so as it started it became an every few days’ kind of thing. Depending on the day, or mood, or crowd, the substance would vary. But as time went on, the desire for everything—except opiates—became much less. And every few days it became, “maybe I should use because I’m upset today”, or “maybe I should use because I had a really good day.” This led to, “It’s a beautiful sunny day, and maybe I’ll get high”. Any reason at all became a “good” reason to use.
I can remember quite a few moments throughout my active addiction in which I stopped and thought in my head, “this is what my life is now, huh?” I knew the people I was spending time with. My “friends.” I’d known about them long before meeting them. They were “THOSE” people. The stereotypical good for nothing drug addicts. Now, “they” were my social life. I depended on them, as they depended on me, but not for companionship, but because one of us had what the other wanted on any given day. I could even help scheme a way on how to obtain it.
In just a matter of months, I went from being a freshman college student, to being a broke 112 pound drug addict living in and out of abandoned family homes and constantly trying to figure out new excuses as to why I was always late for work. Old friends wanted nothing to do with me, and the new ones were pretty much worthless as far as a friend goes. There are no friends in active addiction. I will never forget one of my good high school friends had the police sent to my house because she was worried I was an immediate threat to myself. Others just got tired of the lies and the constant cliché responses, rambling about how tomorrow I would stop and when I saved up enough money for rehab I would consider going.
I had a few moments of realization, or bottoms. I could say that when I was kicked out of two households and slept in my car, that I came to my senses. I could even say that freezing in a holding cell at 2 am on Easter morning stopped me in my tracks. I could tell you that upon being called a scumbag to my face—from my someone I cared very deeply for—that I realized the error of my ways. Or even having an old friend look me in the eyes scared, and cry for the first time in front of me, was my bottom. I would be lying. None of these incidences alone were enough to pull me out of the deadly cycle that is heroin addiction. Not until I was forced into my family home and more or less given an intervention and the offer of rehab, did I throw in the towel. No rock bottom moment alone could have or would have done that for me. It took all of those moments combined with the support and faith of my loved ones, to accept help and do what needed to be done, for those around me and myself.
After a month stay in an inpatient rehab facility, and about five months in a 3-day a week out patient center, I was relying solely on Narcotics Anonymous meetings and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I met so many people there who not only inspired me and gave me the support and advice I needed on a day-to-day basis, but they called me out on my flaws and pointed out when I was being irrational or illogical. I took the suggestions. I had such an amazing support group that I went to with anything and everything, and they taught me how to handle life on life’s terms and how to take each situation as it comes.
I am currently living outside of the U.S., being given opportunities I could have only ever dreamed of, living a life full of fun and new experiences. I do not attend meetings, but I still keep in touch with all of the amazing people I met in rehab, and meetings, I read literature, I meditate. I try to always keep my head where my feet are and take each moment for what it is. I live in the now. I know not to let myself get too emotional or too caught up in any one thing. As addicts we must know that being in control of our thoughts and emotions is one of the best tools we have to keeping our minds in a good place and as far away from bad decisions as possible. For me, it has been 2 years and 2 days since I got high. I have had some wonderful days, and some absolutely terrible days. However, there has been nothing in this time that I haven’t been able to handle clean and sober. I wont say that it’s easy, because it’s not. It’s very difficult. Getting clean was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know that I’m so much stronger because of it. I can make it through so much now just by remembering all of the pain and suffering, and the hopelessness I know that I have been able to overcome. I’m aware now that the human mind is capable of profound strength, and I don’t underestimate it. I have made so many genuine friends that really have my best interest at heart, and I can say the same about them. Being in recovery gives you the best of friends that can relate to you and understand on a level that most people can’t no matter how hard they try.
At 23 years old, this is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life, but I also know that the strength I have built will help me to get through the difficult moments I’ll face throughout my life, and that’s just one of the many blessings I have gained in recovery. I have yet to see any negatives result from becoming a recovering addict. The gift of clean time gives much more than just days on a calendar. Recovery gives you friends, answers, a purpose to keep pushing forward, a better perspective on life, and so much more I cannot even begin to describe.
Being able to wake up and have the first thought on my mind not be about how sick I’m feeling, or how much money I need, or where I need to go to get my fix is one of the most beautiful things in the world. One would never think that being able to go outside and look up at the stars can mean so much to a person, but as addicts, we miss so much when we are active. In the few years I was using I don’t remember one single moment where I thought about how good the sun felt shining on my face, or how astounding it is to look up at the night sky. I took so many things for granted that now I appreciate more than I ever could have if I had not lived through this experience. Small things in life are so precious to those of us who fight for ourselves and get our second chance, and I will never be able to lose sight of them again.
Regardless of how deep anyone is into addiction, it is never too late to turn it around. It will be hard, but I promise you, it will be worth it. Every single minute of clean time is a blessing, especially for those people new to recovery. Celebrate the smallest of milestones, look toward the future, keep your sights high, stay humble, never forget your bottoms, and get true friends.
I hope that if you are struggling, that one day, you too have the strength to once again feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and stare at the night sky in amazement.”
To share your heroic story please email me in similar format to SubstanceForYou@gmail.com YOUR STORY MATTERS!