I am Brooke B. and I am an addict. This is my story of addiction and recovery through Narcotics Anonymous.
I grew up in an upper middle class home as the “baby” of the family. My siblings are several years older than me, and I often felt like an only child. I never had to face poverty, a broken home, or the horrible situations I had always pictured when I thought of someone who would end up having a drug problem. Of course, now I know the disease does not discriminate. I often find myself conflicted when thinking about my parents and my upbringing. I don’t know if they are addicts, and it is not my job to decide. I do know, however, I grew up around frequent drinking. I have memories of my father drinking to the point of being belligerent and ridiculing me and my mother till I would hide under my bed. I remember the humiliation I felt when I had a slumber party at my house with a bunch of new friends and I had to help my mother to bed when she was black out drunk. I have several memories like these, and at the time swore I
would never be like them. I told myself and others I would never do drugs and if I ever
drank, I would not embarrass myself like my parents.
When I was around the age of 12, I had my first “life changing” experience with a mood/mind altering substance. My parents had a lake house where weekends were spent partying with friends. I had a school friend come with me, and we convinced my father to let us try the alcohol he was drinking. I remember sneaking more until I was drunk. The only thought I had was I want to feel like this all the time.
After that the obsession and compulsion pretty much took over. I was desperately seeking ways and means to do more. Like many my disease started out slow and then progressed resulting in consequences. I was almost expelled from my elementary school for using at a school dance. This deterred me from using for a few months and then I was back at it. By high school, I was using as much as possible. I discovered I could take my friend’s prescriptions and do excellent in school while being high. I learned the right things to say and was doctor shopping by 15. I did not think any of this was unusual. I thought I was just being a teenager and was smart because I was getting it out of my system before college. I thought all teenagers do these things and I was a straight a student, so I deserved to have “fun”. Therefore, I continued my quest of living to use. By 17 I started seeing consequences again. I was constantly doing things that lowered my self-worth and went against my beliefs. I became extremely depressed. I had developed an eating disorder and was self-harming, however I still did not see these issues as a problem of my using. I went to my mother and told her I thought something was wrong me, and that I thought I needed therapy because I wanted to die. Her response that if I wanted to kill myself then she would pull the car over so I could jump off the overpass. I felt completely hopeless. I thought the only thing that helped alieve some of the pain was drugs and alcohol, when in reality it was what causing most of it.
During my senior year, things started to look up. I had felt a reprieve in my desperation. I had friends and was accepted in to my dream college in Charleston, SC where my brother lived. I had started dating a guy who was older than me and had his own apartment. He fueled my drug/alcohol consumption and became my using partner. I still in my first semester away at college when he moved to Charleston. That first night in his new apartment, I decided to do a drug I had not previously been very interested in.
He had a prescription and was taking it, so why not? This was the beginning of my tumble to the bottom. We moved back to Memphis because it was easier to get drugs. I managed to slide by in college and graduate with my degree. By then I was completely mentally and physically addicted to drugs and in complete denial because I was still somewhat functioning in a “socially acceptable” manner. “I graduated with my degree!” I would shout anytime my family would comment on my inability to live like an adult. I barely held a part-time job. I was stealing out of the medicine cabinets of the people I would work for, and spending every penny I made on dope. My boyfriend was my supplier, but he began using harder drugs and was no longer concerned with helping me find mine. He decided to go to treatment and tried to convince me that I too needed treatment. I was angry and still thought I could control my using. So I left and moved back in with my parents. I went through withdrawals over and over, getting a few weeks here and there only to start over again.
Christmas eve 2009, after a week of very little sleep due to withdrawal, I fell asleep at the wheel early in the morning coming home from a boyfriend’s house. I crashed my SUV into 7 other vehicles at a stop light. I remember looking up after nodding out, knowing it was too late to stop, and thinking hopefully I will die. Luckily I did not kill anyone. I returned home that day and kept using. I wasn’t until the next year in 2010 when I decided enough was enough. New Year day I was back with my ex. He had relapsed and I had found drugs in his jacket pocket that I had told myself I would never use. I took them to throw out, but could not shake the obsession to keep them for myself even though I knew I would end up dying if I went down that road. I sat down on my kitchen floor and prayed for the first time in forever. I did not want live like that anymore. I did not want to be a slave to the use, hate myself, try to stop, use again cycle anymore, but I did not know how to stop. I had been to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting before, but left thinking it was not for me. I had tried detox treatment without luck. As I was sitting on the floor praying, the only thing that kept popping in my head was the meeting. I decided to give it another try. I went to a meeting a few days later. I used again. Went to another meeting. January 17th, 2010 became my clean date. I do not remember much from those first meetings accept feeling hopeful and excited to have finally found some sort of solution to my dilemma.
My life began changing immediately. I found full time employment, and became trusted and relied on at this place of employment. My sister and I developed an irreplaceable bond. I was able to make amends with my family and let go of many of my resentments towards them. I ended up going back to school and getting a Master’s degree. Today, I actually have a career! I never thought I would ever be able to be an adult. Most days I still do not feel like an adult, but I am, to the best of my ability, living like one. The most important gift of recovery I have received, however, is freedom. I no longer feel completely controlled by drugs. I do not feel fear, guilt, and shame all hours of the day anymore. I definitely have not participated in my recovery perfectly. I took many suggestions, and probably ignored twice as many to suffer the consequences. However, I did not use.
When I had 2 years clean, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. This was a scary time in my recovery. I was not alone, my boyfriend, now husband, was in it with me and willing to do whatever he needed to be there, but fear became overwhelming. I did not know how to be a parent, but I continuously shared my fears with my sponsor and stayed clean. My daughter is 4 now and has never had to see me use. Staying clean is not easy. Staying involved when life gets full is hard. Sometimes, it becomes convenient to forget where I came from and what I am, but I know that the only reason I am where I am today is because of my higher power and the Narcotics Anonymous program.
Thanks for letting me share my experience.