I was the high school homecoming queen. Cheerleader. I was beautiful, bright-eyed, popular, and had every advantage. I came from a good, solid family who loved me; I had friends I loved being with, and a future that shined bright with opportunity. Then I made a choice that changed my life forever.
I am a recovering drug addict.
I’ve lived on the streets. I have been kidnapped, left for dead, and dragged by a car. I lived the nightmare family’s fear for their children. I have done things to get high that I am deeply ashamed of, I know desperation. I have been to hell, and by an unfathomable grace I not only survived my addiction, I’m thriving because of it. My life has purpose.
A family faced with a loved one’s addiction is desperate; I understand. I have breathed inside their son or daughter’s skin. I have been consumed with a force that was a thousand times greater than me…a force that eats away at the body, heart, mind, and soul. Inside every hour of every day I was addicted, my mother and family tried to help; they hoped, cried, prayed and lived a frantic existence of worry and fear. Parents of addicts feel just as out of control as the addict they desperately want to help. I am still so saddened when I remember the pure exhaustion and desperation on my mother’s face when she would look at me during my struggle. She wanted so much for me to overcome this disease, but it would be a long road to recovery for me. I’ve been in treatment several times. I got out of my first rehab in 1996 and my mom thought the nightmare was over and life would go back to normal. No one explained this is a lifelong journey, a battle for me and for her. The greatest lesson I learned in my first stint in rehab was that I needed to hide my addiction better. I never thought of myself like the others in rehab; they were failures, they were low. Some stole from their parents and society. I was nothing like this. But after leaving the recovery program and getting back to my toxic patterns, I realized in the blink of an eye that I was lying to myself – I was exactly like them.
Addiction manifests itself in many ways. Manipulation and deception are huge indicators of trouble to come. Parents must be vigilant – teens know how to manipulate. In my senior year of high school I was voted “Miss Smooth Talker”…and I considered this an accomplishment. The title should’ve been “Miss Manipulator” because that’s exactly what I had become. I thought “just one time for fun” would be just one time for fun – but instead it kick-started an all-consuming lust to chase that first high and I would do anything to get what I wanted. And that’s how it all started, compromising everything I had been taught…little by little. First a cigarette, then a drink, a joint, and soon the line that I’d crossed disappeared. It’s a fact that a high rate of teens begin their alcohol and drug use at this pivotal age in their life, as a parent it is an excruciatingly frightening scenario. No one can predict it and no one knows what they’ll do unless they’re in it themselves. It’s common to want to give a child the benefit of the doubt. Praying it’s only a phase, and for many it may be just that. But if a child has been experimenting and because of it they receive some adverse consequences, such as being suspended from school and they continue to use, that is when serious action should be to be taken. If action isn’t taken then there is a greater risk that they will fall into the vicious cycle of addiction.
My husband and I are an intervention team and there is nothing we haven’t seen. The insanity and chaos that is imbued in addiction toys with emotions, and feelings can become erratic and unpredictable. This is one of the reasons it is vitally important to seek an objective point of view from someone who’s been in an addict’s shoes, someone to give families hope and guidance. My husband and I are committed to helping addicts see their full potential by supporting them and their families during and after treatment. We know every family is different and our process is unlike any other. Our approach offers more than an intervention…a transformation from the inside out!