True Story: Savannah

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

savannaI was only ten when my drug use started. Both of my parents are active addicts, so it was my mom who got me into it. She’s always acted like a teenager, more like a friend than a mom, and she gave me pills for the first time. I was living with her back then and I started using consistently—taking a bunch of pills, smoking weed, and drinking a lot. The pills were my main thing: Percocet, Vicodin, a lot of downers. I struggled with depression and my parents’ physical and verbal abuse, so then I started abusing myself with the drugs, cutting, bulimia, anorexia, and the guys I kept bringing in and out of my life. I started acting out like your typical teenage drug addict, stealing and sneaking out at night, but it was all pointless because my mom was high all the time and didn’t even notice.

By age 13 I was living in a shelter with mom and my youngest sister. The cops found me there and took me back to my dad’s. He was very abusive and his own drug of choice was uppers, so I started doing a lot of coke, meth, and ecstasy those next three years. Those became my drugs of choice. In July of 2009 I ran away from where I was living with my dad in south Texas. I don’t remember all of it, just that I took Xanax, woke up in downtown Houston, and never went home again. At that point I didn’t have a “drug of choice” anymore—it was just whatever anybody had, whatever was in your hand.

In Houston I contacted an old using buddy and started staying with her and her mom. Her mom and my mom used to get high together, so when I was living with them we’d all get high together. A few weeks later my grandparents found me and got custody of me, so I moved in with them. The very next day I snuck out, bought a bunch of drugs and did them all: coke, pills, liquid codeine…all this crazy stuff. I wound up at a park where I went into the bathroom because I felt like I was going to have a seizure. That’s when I caught my reflection in the mirror and nearly jumped out of my skin. My eyes were sunken in, I was black and blue, I had cuts all over…I didn’t recognize myself. I literally thought it was someone else in the bathroom with me, that’s how bad it was, and I was terrified—I thought it was a monster. I realize now that I hadn’t looked myself in the eyes ever since I’d started getting high.

When I went outside the cops were there; they tackled me and sent me to juvenile hall, where I failed every drug test imaginable. I remember the lady doing my intake—she looked at me and her eyes were so sad, like she was thinking, “What on earth have you been doing to yourself?” The next day I met my Probation Officer, and of all the POs in Montgomery County I got a notoriously hard-ass one. She told me that she was going to flip a coin; if I got heads I got to go to Phoenix House, if I got tails I went to a psychiatric program. I happened to land on heads.

I started treatment at the Houston Outpatient and Prevention program, and I met my counselor, Rudy. I’d get so angry at him, yelling, like “Why do you even care!? I don’t understand why you’re even bothering!” But Rudy said, “I’m not going to give up on you,” and he didn’t. Not even when I relapsed. Not even when I got arrested and sent back to juvie. There I was: 15 years old, without any friends or family, and I just wanted more than anything to overdose on heroin and die. That’s when I finally got on my knees and prayed. I don’t think I actually said anything, and if I did I don’t remember it. But I got this overwhelming sense that even though my lawyer, my PO, Rudy, my friends, and my family could all give up on me…God wouldn’t. So I wasn’t going to give up on myself.

I’m not a religious person, but that moment was my first experience of spirituality. And that same day, Rudy came to visit me. I was SO happy to see him because for the first time I felt like I actually had a chance. I was like “Rudy! Guess what?! I realized I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict!” And he was like, “I’m glad you finally figured that out.” Rudy really went to bat for me about going back to treatment, and I got back in. I finished my treatment at Phoenix House and participated in the Cornerstone Recovery program as well. I’ve been sober since 2009, coming up on three years in October.

Since I’ve gotten sober I’ve had my mom come in and out of treatment and my life, my sister too. I’ve lost a lot of family and more friends than I can count to this disease of addiction. But at least I haven’t lost myself. Sure, I’ve had bad moments—I went through a breakup around the same time that a close friend of mine died, but I didn’t let that send me back out there to using. Nothing’s been easy, but recovery is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

There wasn’t a specific event that saved my life; it was my own spirituality and surrender that did it. I know without a doubt in my heart that if I’d continued using I’d be dead. Not in trouble, not in jail—dead. I remember sitting with my first sponsor and being so ashamed to tell her that I’d never felt happy in my entire life. She was like, “It’s ok, you will be.” And she was right. Today I work as a project coordinator for a corporate moving company and I live with my boyfriend, who has four years sober, in downtown Houston. I go to meetings regularly and work with my sponsors and sponsor other teens. I’m completing an internship in wilderness-based recovery at Cornerstone. And it’s all downhill from here; I’m only 18, I’ve got a whole life in recovery ahead of me! I’m like, dude—what great stuff is going to happen next?




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  • jenn

    your story sounds exactly like mine. it feels good to know itcan end up the right way for you. im in active addiction. my mom wont leave me alone especially if i try to quit. i gotta stay away but she lives with my sober sweet religious aunt who actually saved me from her. i cant loose her what do u think i should do

  • Valentine

    Hi Savannah I read your story and it inspired me to write a story not exactly your story but a story inspired of your battle and your amazing victory I myself dealt with cutting bulimia and pill addiction and I would love to share your victory and how you turned your life around. A lot of teens need this amazing example in their lives and you are a GREAT inspiration.
    I would love to here from you and your response to my question.
    Thanks for sharing your powerful story God bless you.


  • eedelman

    Thanks for reaching out, Jenn. It takes courage! One of our clinicians has sent you an email and will connect you with the help you need.

  • savanna

    Wow. I can’t believe there’s actually someone else out there with a similar story to mine, and that is living proof that you can stay clean. Your story brought me to tears because it brought back a lot of feelings and thoughts I tried to forget about. I mean, I did a lot of bad things like; running away, sneaking out at night, all to go do drugs. I was doing bath salts as my drugs of choice. I went to rehab for eight months, but when I got out I ran again and ended up doing more things than I thought I would ever do. Drug addiction runs in my family too. So it’s still a struggle for me to stay clean, but I manage. I have been sober for a few months now. My goal is to reach out to teens struggling with drug addiction. Is there any way you can help me do this?

  • samantha

    wow i cant believe you were in tha situation!!!

  • eedelman

    Thanks for sharing, and it’s great to hear you’re doing well in recovery! Did you attend a Phoenix House program? If so we’d love to interview you for a True Story as well.

  • Mike

    Thank you for being a inspiration. I know what pills can do to you and I am glad you got off of them. I remember my addiction to Vicodin. I mixed them with rum and I only remember the damage I would wake up to. I quit when I struck my girlfriend while messed up. I just remember her crying in the corner as I woke up she had a broken nose. I knew I had to quit. 3 years later I’m sober and trying to right all the wrongs I have done.

  • Dori Mitchell

    Your determination will inspire many men,woman and teens…
    Hearing that you reached out to God in that momment and him loving you in all the pain you were in, so helps other addicts to consider that God will love them clean to…. Thank you for your story and ill be praying for you Sister.
    Im 51yrs old and graduate from munson recovery program this next tuesday. Reading, being with and learning about ourselves and Christ love for us is AMAZING.

  • Ulukapata

    Great story
    really inspired me to quit cocaine

  • latalia j

    hello savvannah Im still trying to muster up enough energy to be able to share mine.

  • kamal

    Comment nice story
    ….full of energy.

  • Haley

    I am so glade you over came your addiction. It is really hard to do that

  • johnsin

    Omg , you were so young when you started using . that’s sad , but I’m more happy that your sober today (; congradulation honey that’s awesome , I use to be a addict to my story is simaler to yours . just stay strong , WE can do this !!

  • Alexis

    You’re story is so much like mine. I grew up with parents who were also drug users. I suffered depression and to cope, I smoked crack cocaine, pot, and drank alcohol. I’ve been sober a year now and it feels great.

  • ronny

    Well pretty much inspiring but I am addicted to weed. Some one help ……. Any buddy please….i am dying

  • ljohnson

    Hi Ronny, Thank you for reaching out. If you provide your geographic location, I can pass it on to a staff member from a nearby facility who will get in touch with you. Alternatively, you can also visit our home page at and dial the number at the top of the screen to speak with somebody immediately. Thank you.

  • austin

  • sinthiya david

    wow you are a great inspiration.. i am from india… and i was only 15 … god bless

  • Cody Dickinson

    Im so sorry for your story. I’m glad you got through it. Id like to say thank you for the inspiring story. we Used this story in my 8th Language Arts class for a personal and informative commentary. Once i’m done ill share the link with you.

  • kelly

    its an inspiring story

  • jensen

    im sorry to all have to go through this.

  • Inshaaf

    I am so inspired by this story. I am a recovering heroin addict with 14 years of addiction behind me. Even though my addiction started in my 20’s, I suffered just the same. I am happy and proud to say that i recently celebrated 18 months clean and sober and found the most important thing to stay clean is to continue working a program after leaving treatment. My life has never been more manageable and im am so grateful every morning for not waking up in fear of when, how and what i’m gonna do to get my next fix. I didn’t think I would ever live a life without drugs, mental institutes and prisons. I could never have done this on my own, thanks to people like you.

  • ljohnson

    Inshaaf, thank you for sharing! We’re glad that you’re doing well, and congrats on 18 months! –Liana Johnson, Phoenix House

  • kari

    I am addicted to heroin please help I’ve tried cold turkey w/d too severe God help me

  • Maura Christopher

    Please hang in there. Help is available. I’m going to have someone reach out to you. Additionally, call our help line: 888-671-9392 Recovery is possible!

  • alex

    I can’t say my life hasn’t been the same since I started drinking and doing drugs. It’s been almost ten years. Im 25. Ive drank 24 beers tonight aand done a lot if other things. I can kill a fifth at a single sitting and function. Physically I feel like I’m dying when the last of it comes. I’ve been to jail and through relationships. I Feel emotional about my habits because I feel I never had control. I know I’m going to die from this because I never feel the want to stop. It’s hard wanting to change but fighting the fear of dealing with anything sober because its boring or hard or whatever. I’m just lost at the moment.but I’m sure I’m just weak. Thanks hope this helps someone.

  • ljohnson

    Alex, we commend you for reaching out. One of our staff members with be in touch, or if you’d like to speak with someone immediately, please call us at 1 888 671 9392. Thank you.

  • R Johnson

    Your story of recovery is an inspiration to all who are truly seeking to leave their life of drug addiction behind them. Their is help and hope available for those who are determined to have healing in their lives.

  • Safana Hirani

    Shame I’m so sorry I’m only 11 and this has never ever happens to me I’m so sorry .
    You are so inspiring to me your are my mentor I’m so sorry you had to go through this I wish you all the best in the future and ahed in life????

  • lee ob

    Hi Savannah Iv just read your story Im also an addict who has been struggling since i v got clean, I am prone to relapses but iv learnt something from them each time it happened, I just want to say your story has inspired me it has touched my heart iI hope somehow someday you see my comment 🙂

  • torie

  • Hunter

    Nothing changes until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

  • Edward C.

    Your story is an admiration, it has changed many lives including mine. it’s amazing that you’ve had such a positive impact on everyone’s life, your story has brought tears to my eyes every single time I read it.

  • Andy

    Thank you for sharing Savannah. I hope all is well.

  • Kimberley jade

    Your story is very inspirational n look how far uv come. Iv got a bad drug history but im trying really hard to beat it. I have two beautiful daughters n myself im doing it for but it has been hard. Good luck my luv xxxxxxx

  • Terrilyn

    I my self are not an addict! But here is my story I have 2 brothers that died because of addiction and I am raising one of their baby’s because he was killed! And my heart goes out to any one that has an addiction! My Prayers are with you all!

  • Betty

    Great job never give up it works if you work it!!!

  • Tousha flannery

    I just want to tell you I am very inspired and recovery is amazing girl… Keep it up…

  • Lilliana C

    I Think your story is touching and a wake up call for addicted teen around the world

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