I have lost more than 40 friends, classmates and loved ones to this epidemic and I do not want to see another talented, creative, and intelligent individual die because of it. I won't sit back and stay silent any longer and will use my experience and knowledge to help combat stigma, raise awareness and inspire recovery.
To family members or loved ones of those struggling with addiction, please know that you could never hate us or our disease more than we do. On a daily basis, we are consumed with the shame, guilt and disappointment we feel for destroying ourselves and our family. Even in the face of turmoil, please remember that compassion and kindness go a long way. Most times, we need your embrace more than we need your rejection. Love us through this and don't ever give up on us. Let us keep trying to figure this out until we get it right. Most importantly, help us not die before we make it there.
Please try to understand that beneath our "bad behavior" is an amazing human being worth knowing. Stick this out with us until you get to meet us at the finish line.
I encourage everyone to remain open minded about the many different pathways to recovery and know that it might take multiple attempts to figure it out. Just know that's okay!
I fell into the depths of opioid addiction when I was 21 years old only to continue to fight my way out until I finally had success at age 27. During my using days, I felt overwhelming feelings of self-loathing, shame and sadness, which were exacerbated by my constant need to isolate. I knew I was destroying my life and causing immense pain to my family, but I was hopeless in finding a way out because I had failed so many times before. I remember believing with every fiber in my body that I needed to accept the shell of a person I had become and understand that I would never live happy and free. I was convinced that the miserable existence of my life that had come to be was permanent.
It wasn't until I explored a treatment option that helped me feel alive again that I began to conceptualize what success in recovery might look like for me. Fast forward 5 years later and it's hard to believe I am the same person. I now have a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and am pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. Throughout my clinical training, I have learned how to connect my personal experience with my clinical training in hopes of helping others make it out of their addiction and move towards a life of thriving, not simply surviving. I have never felt so free and centered in my entire life and remain fulfilled as I work towards inspiring hope and recovery in others, however that may take shape.