Living Life Heroin Free…
Seems simple for the people who never have experienced the pure hell of heroin addiction, but for the ones in recovery, we know the hardships of active use and the blessings of recovery. I wanted to share some of my personal life story to help erase the stigma of heroin addiction, educate, and really face this epidemic head on, as a community, as one.
If you don’t know, I’m Valerie and I’m a recovering addict. Pills, heroin, crack, cocaine, acid, mushrooms, whatever I could get to escape, I took it. By the end of my addiction it was only heroin and weed, but let’s slow it down.
My heroin addiction started in 2014 right when I was moving into my first home. My significant other at the time was in recovery when we met, relapsed, and introduced me into the heroin lifestyle. After I watched him use half a bag of heroin in front of me, I wanted to try it, being curious and really had no self esteem or self worth. He immediately let me try it and walked me through how to freebase heroin on a piece of tinfoil. By the time I was done with my hit, the instant rush made me want more. Then from there it became everyday use.
A few years using with him, becoming addicted because if i didn’t have it, I would become dope sick. I’d pawn or sell whatever I could just to feel better. Once we split, I was doing everything by myself and it was only getting harder to control. My world was in chaos, I would try to go cold turkey on the weekends to get clean but never could manage it past a day or two. It took a long while for me to reach out to my mom who was in complete shock and just had no clue anything about heroin or what it does. She saw first hand when she tried to detox me cold turkey a handful of times. Sometimes I’d manipulate her to get money to go feel better. To give you an idea of what “Dope Sickness” feels like is the Flu X 10. My legs felt like they were snapping inside me. I couldn’t sleep, eat, do anything besides think about using because it would instantly make things better. My mom kept trying to help me.
Our next option was outpatient by this local hospital. Since I wasn’t ready at the time, I’d go and drop out and start over about 6 or 7 times within a year. Safe to say we knew that wasn’t working for me so we tried a place called Westfall. They put me in an inpatient facility but I lasted 5 days before signing out AMA.
We are going to fast forward through about two more years of relapsing and using and trying to get clean, in and out of abusive relationships, loosing every moral and value I had prior to meeting heroin.
I was at the end of my rope. I was about to lose the rest of what I had left, which wasn’t much, from pawning and selling stuff for dope. I was going to lose my car, house and pets because I ran up over $50,000 of debt on a bunch of credit cards. I had to file for bankruptcy which was a relief to figure out a workable plan to keep what i had left.
2018 is when I found Strong Recovery because I was still relapsing even though it was less often. My mom gave me an ultimatum that I go get myself into treatment or she’s walking away from me. I called and got in. It was a rocky start but now here I am since April 2018 I’ve been in the program. I had 1 relapse of three days, but got back on track, learning new coping skills, and am finally about to hit my One Year Sober Mark, which I haven’t been since age fifteen or earlier. It’s such a good feeling to not have to wake up dope sick and worry. I wake up and get coffee and let the dogs out.
I started getting into art and created “Crystallized Canvases” a little Etsy shop because of how proud of myself and my work I am. I want to inspire the people who see themselves in my story, that every single person is worthy of love and is capable of kindness. Even with being labeled a heroin addict, I wear that as a badge because a lot of my friends who never made it to recovery because of overdosing and dying. Not only am I doing it for me, but I’m doing it for the ones who aren’t here with us anymore.
I’ve lost so many good people to addiction and I hope by sharing what I’ve gone through, can empower those who are at their bottom. It’s time to bring this topic up to the surface instead of tip toeing around the stigma.
We do recover.
Until next time,