My name is Jennifer, and I am a very grateful recovering addict/alcoholic.

Just as many other kids, I started drinking alcohol when I was 13 years old, because I wanted to be cool, and fit in. My idea of fun was anything outside of my usual boring self. Alcohol made feel like the person I wanted to be, but only if I got drunk. I was funny; I was cool; people liked me. Once I fell in love with the effect alcohol gave me, I was willing to try any other “party” drug. I would try and take anything that would make the “party” better, never knowing what it was or where it came from. I did any drug that came my way, including marijuana, ecstasy, acid, PCP, special K, and cocaine. The “party” was so much fun, that I ended up wanting to party every day. More, more, more! I could never get enough. I chose partying over school, work, basically anything that required my being responsible. As a result, I disappointed my family, and slowly but progressively sunk deeper into the disease of addiction.

At around age 20 following an automobile accident, I was prescribed pain killers. That’s when I thought I had it really figured out. I was able to get high on the pain killers and it was legal.  I could even function somewhat “normally” and be somewhat responsible day to day.  I felt like superwoman. I was able to work more, and make more money.  But that money was always used to buy more pills, so that I could continue to work more, to make more money, to buy more pills. The vicious cycle had begun. Unlike my “partying” days, I became physically dependent on these pills to function normally. I mean literally, to just be able to get out of bed, brush my teeth, and shower, I needed the pills. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be able to move. I was sick.

The pills became harder and harder to get, and not only that, became very expensive. I had to have them! So I did whatever it took to get the money needed.  I stole, and degraded myself, just to feed the monster inside me, but the monster always wanted more. More, more, more! My using was interrupted by time in jails, and various detoxes, but I always returned to feeding my disease when I got out.  Wasted time just flew by.  I was 28 years old.

Then heroin was casually introduced to me as a substitute that was much cheaper, more readily available.  To get the best effect, I chose to shoot it directly into my veins. It was that simple. My disease needed the drug, and I said ok. The progression of my addiction was slow and gradual for the 15 years before this point. However, from the day I stuck that needle in my arm, it was a very fast downward spiral. I became fully consumed in being a full blown dope fiend, like never before. I went lower and lower, losing myself and everyone around me. It was like my disease had vice grips on me, and wanted nothing but to squeeze every last ounce of life out of me. There was no way out. I felt trapped. I was miserable. I was alone. I just wanted to die. Death seemed like the easier choice, than having to suffer, existing in this miserable life.

Finally that day came. It was June 15, 2013. I was just released from jail, serving a 364 day sentence. I had spent all those days locked up planning how I was going to successfully get high, without ever running out of money, or having to do the awful things I did to get money.  The plan included limited use, no more than three days in a row, so I wouldn’t catch a physical habit. I had it all figured out. So, just as planned, I spent my release from jail celebrating by smoking crack. After hours of smoking crack, I believe one bag of dope would bring me down from my high, so I could relax, sleep it off, and never get high again. The heroin opportunity came my way, and as I pulled the dope into the needle, somehow I knew it was going to be lethal but I just wanted the crazy coke high to stop, so I quickly injected it. As I pushed it through, my thoughts were right. I could feel that this shot was going to be my last. This was the shot that was going to end my miserable life. So, I just closed my eyes, and let the drug take me. It was over.
Next thing I know, I am gasping for air, and thinking “Oh shit! No! It was supposed to kill me! Why am I alive?!”  As my blurry vision started clearing, I was surrounded by emergency medical staff. They had brought me back to life by injecting Narcan into my system. While I was in and out of consciousness for the next few hours I do remember being disappointed that they just didn’t leave me to die. Why couldn’t I just die? I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I didn’t want to be a slave to the disease anymore.  I just wanted to die!  I wanted it to end!

Today, over a year later, I am truly grateful for the EMS staff saving my life. They gave me another chance to finally find a new way of life.  Though that incident was not my last time using? But that incident led me to find the resources I needed to get help. Soon afterward I went to a 28 day detox and rehab program, then went directly to a 6 month half way house. I believe I was blessed with the gift of desperation, and became willing to try anything than go back to that miserable life. I can say I am living life today, not just existing in it.

I am happy to wake up every day, open my eyes, and just breathe. I embrace everyday as an opportunity, not as a chore. I am genuinely happy, and I am surrounded by people that share the same disease, that understand me, and truly care about me. Today I am not alone. I wasted so many years thinking I didn’t deserve any better, and that there was no other way of life, no way out, other than with drugs. Today, I have been clean and sober since July 4, 2013. That is a true miracle! Life without drugs is possible, and so much better than anything I could have imagined. I am blessed to have been given another chance to live. I have to thank God, Narcan, and the EMS staff, for saving my life, and giving me another opportunity to live.