My name is Jamie. I’m a recovering addict and alcoholic. I have 2 and a half years clean and sober. This journey has not been a very easy one for me. I’ll start from the very beginning… My very first taste of alcohol was when I was about 7yrs old. My parents had a bonfire party one night behind our house. Coolers full of beer, big fire, loud music ect… everyone went to sleep at the end of the night and so did I. I woke up the next day and went outside while everyone was still sleeping and had every intention of just playing in the yard as usual. However,…when I walked over by the fire pit and saw that there was beer left in the cooler, the devil started whispering in my ear. I remember thinking to myself “mom and dad have so much fun when they drink these…I want to have fun too”. So, I grabbed 2 cans and took them into the wooded area behind our house and drank them. They tasted like shit, but I drank them anyway. I remember having a buzz and the feeling scared the hell out of me. I was 7yrs old! I went back to the house and told on myself. Don’t really remember what happened after that. I’m sure I was in a lot of trouble. So, years go by and we move to a different house in a neighborhood with kids close to my age and other kids much older and closer to my brothers ages. Parents were out Christmas shopping I believe and my older brother had some friends over and they were drinking…so of course I wanted to fit in with the bigger kids and I drank too. I was about 12yrs old. Drank about 4 beers, someone said the cops was coming and I ran and tripped over something and knocked my front tooth out! Cops were not even coming. Had to lie to my parents of how I knocked my tooth out. Shortly after this happened, I experimented with pot. Friend of mine was smoking and I wanted to try it also. Didn’t really feel anything the first time I smoked. I had taken 4 hits off a bong the 2nd time I tried though, and I got so high I threw up. I loved the high. I started smoking and drinking every weekend at a friend’s house. Few years goes by and my parents split up. I moved out with my mom to an apartment across from the high school I was going to. I was 14yrs old and started skipping school to get high and drink. My friends would ride the bus to school and walk over to my house in the morning and we would party all day long, then they would ride the bus back home at the end of the day. I barely made it through 9th and 10th grade. My mom started dating a guy that lived about an hour away from us and was going to spend the weekend at his house each week. She had no idea I was even doing any of the things I’d been doing at this point. So, when she would leave I’d have people over and throw parties. Eventually it became more than just smoking and drinking. Ecstasy came into the picture and acid and then cocaine. I absolutely fell in LOVE with coke. Cocaine gave me that magical feeling of being 100% comfortable in my skin. I started doing coke every weekend. Hanging out with guys who sold it because they gave it to me for free. All of this was happening and I had absolutely no idea that I might even for a second, be an addict. Never crossed My mind. I was selling weed in school and buying coke with the money. I also sold cigarettes in school. You would be surprised how much money a kid can make selling cigs in a high school. I would go to the school, sell what I had and come back home to party with my friends during the day. I missed so much school that I had to break into our apartment mailbox with a butter knife to get the letter from the school that kept being sent out every day to inform my mother of all the days I had missed. I would delete the voicemails off our answering machine from the school also. My mother had no idea any of this was going on. She used to try to keep me on lock down with a 9:00pm curfew, and of course a teenager who’s doing the things I was doing rebelled against it and any rules that she tried to put in place. So, I moved in with my father because I knew he would let me do whatever I wanted to do. He signed me out of high school, allowed me to drop out. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made. I promised him I’d go right away and get my GED. I had no intentions of doing that… All I wanted to do was party with my friends. My addiction to cocaine got out of control. Along with my addiction to alcohol. I became a blackout drunk… I would black out and guys would take advantage of me. I became pregnant at the age of 18 with my first child. So needless to say, I stopped doing the things I was doing through the pregnancy and when she was about 8 months old I picked up the habit of doing coke and drinking again. In my mind, I was working and taking care of business and I deserved a little fun on the side. During all of this I was introduced to a guy who later on introduced me to crack. I instantly fell in love with that rush. My whole life started to fall apart at that point. Everything became about trying to find more and get more. It became hard to take care of my child. I would send her to my aunt’s house for a week, 2 weeks at a time while I went out on my binges. My aunt threatened to take me to court for custody if I didn’t get my life together and do right by my child. So, I cleaned up for a while. Long enough to make her happy with how I was doing and regain full access to my daughter. A month or 2 in… I fell off. My whole entire life involved me riding around selling crack, getting hotel rooms and smoking crack. I was so sick. At times, I felt like killing myself. I started buying Percocets from people to help me with the jones I would get from the crack. I got in way too deep. I fell in love with speed balling. So, this goes on and goes on and I met yet another guy… This guy sold crack and heroin. He had the connection and the money and some people to buy. I had the car, and even more people to buy. Together we made a never-ending supply of drugs, and one hell of a fat stack of cash. Again though, I couldn’t balance this lifestyle while trying to be a mother. The drugs won. I tucked my daughter in to bed one night and left. I had every intention of coming back…. but the binge was so hard and so long..I didn’t make it back for almost a year. 8 months of running hard on the street. And 2 months I was in jail. During the time before jail when I was out using I was in an abusive relationship with this guy. He would mentally, physically and sexually abuse me. I became a victim. However I was the one who allowed it. I stayed in that situation because I would put up with and allow anything for my next high. I was addicted to the fast paced lifestyle also. Money. Hotels. Bars. Selling drugs was fun…but I was dying inside. I used because I was miserable and I was miserable because I was using. I missed my daughter so MUCH…but couldn’t stop doing the shit I was doing. I was powerless. I had overdosed a couple times and actually saw a man lose his life from overdose. His deceased face is a picture that’s stamped on my brain for life. He was gray with one eye open. I’ll never forget it. The night he died I shot the same dope that killed him. I shot it all night long, almost hoping I would be next. I remember dropping to my knees and begging, shouting to God to please do something to help me change my life. Bring me out of this nightmare I was living! About 2 or 3 days later I woke up to a detective banging on this girls front door that I was spending a few nights at. They were there for me. They served me with a federal indictment. I was being charged with distribution. Someone I sold to had set me up on a controlled buy. I was scared to death. I knew I was going to have withdrawals from hell in there….and I did. I had withdrawal so bad I literally beat my head into wall inside the jail hoping to knock myself unconscious. 2 weeks went by and I started to feel a little bit better. I got a visit at the jail from a counselor from the substance abuse treatment center who wanted to ask me some questions and evaluate me for a program called drug treatment court. I answered all of her questions and days later was visited by a public defender who told me I was accepted into the drug court program. I was a little familiar with the program from hearing others speak of it. I knew it was a very intense program and that a lot of people didn’t make it. People in the jail told me not to take it because it’s a set up for failure, that I would be better off just doing my time. I knew in my heart though that this was it. This was my chance to get my life back. This was Gods answer to my prayer. Drug court sent me to rehab and upon completion I was released to the program on the street. It was hard. I was overwhelmed and had many days where I wanted to quit and give up. I relapsed twice and went back to jail for 5 months to do a drug program. Those relapses happened because I hadn’t changed my people places and things. After going back for those 5months I made my mind up. That was it. No more hurting my child. No more hurting myself. This is MY life and I’m taking it back! I went to a half way house, committed to my meetings, worked with my sponsor and did the next right thing for just one day at a time. Now here I am…single mother of not one but TWO beautiful children, I work full time at the same half way house I graduated from. I’ve graduated drug treatment court, I’m buying a car and building credit, continuing my education, saving money for my children to attend college, still going to my meetings and loving and living my life. Wouldn’t change anything for the world. I have a strong relationship with my higher power. My message to you is.. if you’re still out there…living that life…using…please reach out. It’s not too late…if you are still breathing and have a heart beat…its not too late. I had given up hope, accepted that I was a drug addict and that’s what I would always be…and through God’s beautiful grace, I’m clean another day. Thanks for letting me share!