I 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?