I have always been very shy, anxiety filled, and awkward so I always had a hard time making myself socialize, and therefore was often without friends. I was about 12 when two different family friends allowed me access to alcohol and marijuana, I honestly didn’t understand how to inhale it until much later, but the alcohol, well it was normally awful. But I had finally started making friends and they were from the “wrong side of the creek”, I enjoyed having something “cool” about myself, and when I was drinking I was so much more comfortable talking to people. It eventually became a weekend ritual to get drunk on Friday and Saturday nights. By 14 I was taking Xanax with my drinks. Around that time I also began occasionally receiving a very high dose of Vicodin from a family member when I would get my braces tightened, and once when I cracked my head open. I want to state, so you understand how easy it is to get dragged into this cycle, that I did not know what these drugs were and honestly, as it was the early 2000’s I don’t think most pain patients were even aware what they were getting themselves into. I had seen them in my home, and knew people took them to get high, I was not completely naive, but I had no idea of the link to heroin at that time. I did not ask for them or hint that I needed them, but the first time I took one, a whole one, despite the fact that I was dizzy and nauseated from taking way too much, I was floating. I went back every time it was offered, and found ways when it wasn’t. By high school I had access to an almost unlimited supply of opioids, Xanax and alcohol. No one was really monitoring how much I was using or how often, and a lot of the time I hid my use so no one really knew what I was mixing. It scares me to think of it now. But to my mind I wasn’t an addict, I just liked to party “carefully”, and later less carefully. I always stood firm and refused coke, which is the only “hard drug” I was ever offered. But I still fell into a 10 year cycle of using adderall, vicodin, percocet, and xanax basically daily (because you see, to my mind these were not hard drugs because they came from a pharmacy). By my 17th birthday I was drinking and using drugs daily, I didn’t use the same drug two days in a row to avoid chemical dependence, so obviously the dangers had begun to filter into my mind. But I didn’t stop. I had two children in the time I was caught up in my addiction, I would stay clean while I was pregnant, and walk out of the hospital with a prescription for percocet, it felt like a prize for staying clean. The longer I used the stronger my denial was, I would work 2 and 3 jobs to keep my bills paid and pay for my addiction. Even then I was seemingly content to go on as I was, but thankfully the more regulated and strict guidelines started rolling out for prescribing opioids. Suddenly I was having a harder and harder time finding my “drug of choice”, and then when I would, after days of being clean I would get too high, get a headache and fall asleep, and usually oversleep for work the next morning. I think my body was over me being in charge. The downside to the drug laws was for some reason I was constantly being offered harder drugs now that the percocet and vicodin were so difficult to get. I had only heard of Oxy once and never dilaudid until I started easing off the drugs, suddenly they were everywhere. I always turned them down, and I am so grateful to this day that I did. After my father died I really looked into myself and tried to take control of my life. I started digging into addiction research and educating myself about what was going into my body. And then I moved, I changed my job, my friends, everything. I somehow quit using all medications and alcohol. I am so thankful for every day I am here and clean to enjoy the life I have.