Lily's Story

By: Lily Rose

I was crawling on my hands and knees. The bathroom floor hadn't been swept for a month or two, which made it harder to find the tiny piece of heroin that fell off the counter the day before. When I had dropped it, the little crumb meant nothing to me. I had just picked up my usual, a half gram. I was set for the whole day if I just wanted to avoid getting sick and that little rock was not going to make a difference.

The next morning, my dealer wasn't answering. Only another addict can relate to the kind of panic that sets in when your dealer still isn't answering the phone after twenty minutes. Remembering I had dropped the little bit the day before, I raced to the bathroom to find it. At that moment, it was the most important thing in the world to me. This was the first time heroin took me to my knees. Searching for a minuscule rock on the bathroom floor so that I could take the edge off the withdrawal. My name is Lily and I'm a grateful recovering addict.

I didn't dress up like a heroin addict on career day at school. Actually, I faked being sick so I wouldn't have to recite the speech I had written on marine biology in front of the class. Self-­centered fear began running my life at a very young age. Looking back, now I understand why my first sip of alcohol made me feel so at ease. The social anxiety I had been carrying around for 15 years had finally been lifted. I thought I was free.

I continued drinking on the weekends. We usually drank warm beer deep in the woods behind a Catholic Church. If we were lucky, someone with “cool” parents would let us drink at their house. If we were even luckier, they would buy us a case with the fists full of change we all threw in.

One night, I was walking home from drinking in the woods and passed out on the side of the road. A police officer found me. He dropped me off at home and talked to my mom. I didn't get in trouble. My mom had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was exhausted and sick. Unable to cope with taking care of a parent, I continued to drink. I had a blast partying, until one night I was sexually assaulted. I told my boyfriend what happened but he didn't believe me. He called me a cheater and began talking about it to other people at school. After a day or two, I couldn't walk down the hallway without other students giving me dirty looks. I left public school and started an independent study program to get my diploma. The isolation felt great. I continued drinking, but drinking wasn't a fun thing anymore. It was what i did to feel comfortable, especially around other people.

It was around this time that I tried adderall for the first time. When it kicked in, I thought I had found my soulmate. But it turned out to just be puppy love. On my 19th birthday, I found exactly what I was looking for. I had a headache and my boyfriend gave me Tylenol as he was leaving for work. A little bit later, I was throwing up and nodding out. He had actually given me Vicodin. He had been addicted to opiates for a few years and had kept it a secret from me.

He also introduced me to heroin this way. I was experiencing extreme pain from a wisdom tooth infection. He told me there was a half of a Percocet on the bathroom counter if I wanted it. I did. When I walked into the bathroom, I found a white powdery line and a straw sitting next to it. He told me he had crushed up the pill because it would take away my pain faster if I snorted it rather than swallowed it.

I sat in the bathroom for a while, contemplating the line. When I finally did it, the effect was much more intense than painkillers. I knew it was heroin. Once I tried it, I couldn't get enough. We started using together and I instantly became desensitized to the idea of snorting heroin. We used together for almost a year.

I eventually started to have feelings for our dealer. We would have long talks in the car whenever I came to pick up and enjoyed spending time together. I broke up with my boyfriend and I started dating my dealer in August of 2014. On December 1, we agreed that we would both stop. I would stop using and he would stop selling. That was the first time I thought about recovery. I thought I could do it on my own. I thought I was strong enough. I started abusing suboxone and benzodiazepines. I fooled myself into thinking I was clean. This continued for a few months until I found heroin in our apartment one day. Without even thinking, I used it.

Heroin had taken a big toll on my health, mostly my lungs. On April 30, 2015 I went to work while having an asthma attack. I was struggling to breathe and talk. I should have gone to the hospital days before when it started. I didn't want to risk being admitted and getting dope sick or having to sneak heroin into the hospital. When my manager saw my condition, I was immediately sent home. Missing a shift meant less money for heroin when I got my paycheck. So I did the same thing that I always did when life wasn't going my way. I picked up the phone and called my dealer. I met with them and went home. I could barely walk up the steps to our apartment. The asthma attack was getting more serious than usual. I opened the front door and plopped down on the floor in the in the hallway. I had never been that out of breath in my life. I can remember not even wanting to use. I felt that awful.

It took me a few hours to accept the fact that I needed medical attention. My chest was caving in and my fingernails and lips had turned blue. I called 911 and when the operator asked what my emergency was, all I could get out was the word “asthma”.

Before the paramedics arrived, I shoved the heroin I had just bought down into my laundry basket. I spent a few days in the ICU and detoxed without the doctors even knowing. The attending nurse made a comment about how annoying it was to have patients who were addicts. I was too scared to ask for help. My asthma attack was a direct result from using.

I abused adderall and benzodiazepines throughout the summer. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I was prescribed something for the pain. Honestly, I couldn't wait to have them out because it meant that I would once again be reunited with opiates. During the extraction, they fractured my jaw in three places. Rather than being upset about my fractured jaw, I was ecstatic. I was getting more drugs. After the pills ran out, I started using heroin again.

I was in a few recovery groups on Facebook, but I never posted anything or networked with other addicts and alcoholics. One morning, I reached out to a woman in one of the groups and asked for help with dual­-diagnoses. She added me to a support group called “Nor­-Cal Recovery”. I was immediately tagged in a post and welcomed into the group by another member named Mike. We started messaging and within a few minutes I had so much support from people all over the country. I can honestly say that was the first time I felt the power of one addict helping another. By the end of the night, I was at my first twelve step meeting, something I had been terrified of doing for months. The love and support from Nor-­Cal Recovery helped me get my foot in the door. That's when my real journey with recovery started.

I attended meetings on and off for a few months. I always thought that I was different. I thought my social anxiety wouldn't allow me to participate in a group setting. I would go for a few days and then relapse. I still went to meetings, but I would go high. This continued for months. By the end of my active addiction, I couldn't even be in my bedroom without thinking that someone was watching me or recording me. I had gotten an awesome sponsor, but I wasn't calling and checking in with her. I isolated and I hadn't even told her I was using. She found out through someone else at a meeting. When I finally opened up to her, she was able to start helping me. I made a lot of friends in recovery in my area, but I knew that I needed to relocate closer to family. I had been taking care of my mom and we had grown extremely codependent. I wanted to leave Ohio for years but I was filled with fear. I had gotten comfortable where I was. But as an addict, I knew that everything I had ever wanted was on the other side of fear.

Today I live a life that I never thought existed. I still go to meetings and I live in an amazing sober living house. I had to leave Ohio and relocate to Massachusetts to be closer to family. There is no geographical cure and I am proof of that. I relapsed when I left Ohio, but I immediately got honest and found a new sponsor in my area.

Living in a sober living environment has been crucial to my recovery. I am always surrounded by someone else who understands the disease of addiction. I am finding my voice and making friends who genuinely care about me.

I used to try and complicate the idea of recovery, but it is quite simple. By emotionally livingwithin a 24 hour time period, working with a sponsor, going to meetings, getting phone numbers of others in recovery, and not picking up a drink or drug, I am 64 days clean today. My name is

Lily and I’m an addict in recovery. Thank you for letting me share.