My name is Rachel. I am most certainly an addict. However, today and since February 5th, 2016 I choose to be an addict in recovery. At this point in my sobriety I am just now learning how to accept what I have done in my active addiction. I am learning that just because you get clean doesn’t mean that you un- screw everything you’ve screwed up in active addiction. However, today, I have accountability. I am able to own up to what I have done. I have consequences for my actions. And despite how painful it is to lay out the cold hard truth of my story, I have been inspired to be brutally honest. I share this story willingly, in hopes that someone may read it, and not have their story end as mine. Just a bit of background info before I start. I was raised in a great home. Two parents (still married) and 3 sister’s, who are more like best friends. I was raised with morals, class, integrity and dignity. I didn’t have everything I wanted growing up, but I had everything I needed. When I got to middle school I had an uncontrollable urge to fit in. My addiction started way before my first drink or drug. I was a master at manipulating situations. I learned at a young age how to get what I wanted. I started off just drinking. I loved the effects produced by alcohol. I loved the party scene, and I loved feeling like I fit in. It started out just being a weekend warrior. During one of my many party nights I was introduced to pain killers. I actually hated them at first, they made me sick. Fast forward a few years, in 2006 I was in a car accident. I was prescribed narcotic pain medicine and quickly learned to love it. I wasn’t automatically off to the races with opiates, but I eventually started seeking them out more often. I ALWAYS said I would NEVER do heroin. Eventually, I tried it and liked it but my preference was pills. I started selling pot through my high school years. I made tons of money and became addicted to the lifestyle. It was a rush. It took me outside of myself and allowed me to buy anything I wanted. I learned quickly that narcotic pain pills were a commodity. It was supply and demand. A hot market with fast money and all the drugs and money I wanted. That led me to waking up one morning sick, not knowing the real reason why. I went into withdrawal cold turkey from oxys and just smoked weed. Two months after, at 20 years old i found out I was pregnant with my son. My first child. It was easy to leave the drugs alone then. I had a reason to stay sober. I was growing a baby! There were many complications during my pregnancy and labor. After I had my son they put me on Vicodin. It had been so long since I felt that high. The high I didn’t realize I was missing out on or so I thought. I had no time for that. I was a single mother, just learning my brand new baby had special needs. Months went by and when he wasn’t reaching new milestones other babies his age were, I began to worry. This was my first child. I didn’t know how to cope. I played the role of the victim. It was my favorite card to play. So I sought after the only thing I thought would bring me peace. Painkillers. A few years later I got the diagnosis for my son. He has cerebral palsy and is fully dependent on me. Eventually those painkillers became expensive, and stopped working. They couldn’t numb me anymore I was immune to them. I was reintroduced to heroin, my real love. Heroin turned me into a monster, I lied, I cheated, and I robbed. One of the many things I stole was peace of mind. I stole my family’s peace. I broke their trust. I was so consumed with self that I did whatever it took to get the next one in me. But mostly, I resorted back to dealing. It was the only sure fine way to support my habit. CPS was called, I was in danger of losing my child when he was 3 years old. So, being the good addict I was, I found the rooms of AA and NA just to get people off of my back. I managed to accumulate a few months sober, but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I relapsed starting with alcohol and weed, then not long after I was going back to Baltimore to score more dope and come back to Frederick to sell it. In 2015, I made a sale to someone and that someone went home, did the drugs that I sold them and died from a drug overdose. Although I was not there when this person passed, survivor’s guilt ate me alive. I knew they had gotten the drugs off of me. You would think that would be reason enough for me to stop using, but it wasn’t. That’s how sick I was. That’s where my addiction took me. To chase after the very drug that killed one of my friends. 7 months after my friend passed away, on my son’s birthday I was pulled over and arrested for possession of heroin. I got bailed out and the first thing I did, was use. I had an inability to live with myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror. I hated the person I saw and the person I was becoming. My parents kicked me out of their home. The first two places I went, was to Baltimore and then to the bar. I had zero regard for my life or my son’s. I wanted to kill myself but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I continued living a miserable existence until I received a gift. It was the gift of desperation. I was broken down, beaten, homeless, jobless, and spiritually bankrupt. So I went to a meeting; where I knew I was safe. I continued using until something, somewhere, FINALLY clicked for me. I was welcomed back to the rooms. I was fortunate enough to make it back. The people in the 12 step fellowships told me to keep coming back. They told me it would get better and to take things one day at a time and that is exactly what I have been doing for the last year. I am starting to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind. I was terrified to tell my story; my whole story and bare the naked truth. But people need to know this is real. Dealing drugs is not cool by any means. I have lost many people near and dear to my heart, and one of those people was someone that begged me to sell them the bag they died on. It has only been through doing the 12 steps that I am able to be so honest. When I was two months clean I was charged with distribution of heroin. I was charged for selling the drugs that killed my friend. Although heroin wasn’t the only thing found in this persons system, I will FOREVER have to pay for the consequences of my active addiction and I’m not talking legally. I accepted a plea for Drug Treatment Court. I was placed on drug court when I had 7months clean. I have accountability today. I have 26 YEARS of jail time over my head but I have a second chance. I am not the same Rachel that I was in active addiction. The sober Rachel now, would have NEVER sold her friend heroin that they could potentially die from. The sober Rachel now, would have NEVER left her special needs son with her parents for two months while she went ripping and running the streets. I am mending relationships I thought were once irreparable. I am allowed back into my home. I am employed today, and although I don’t make so much, I am earning an honest living. I am able to be a daughter. I am able to be reliable and dependable these days. I am able to be a sister and a friend. Sometimes I feel as though I am not worthy or deserving of the life that I have today. I have a second chance at life. I am eternally grateful for that. I am no longer a victim. I am a victor! Life is not about what happens to us, it is about how we deal with it. We learn, we grow, we adapt. We fall, we rise. If we are fortunate – we come back to life after being spiritually dead. I am able to be the mother my son so desperately needs and deserves. I am able to suit up and show up for him throughout any storm that heads our way. The bond we have today is so incredible that it is hard to find the rights words to describe it. He has vision problems and was born deaf, so he can pick up on vibes that you and I could never feel. He knows that his mom is happy and most of all, healthy. I have credit these days, I bought my first car with no cosigner and celebrated my first birthday clean this year. Recovery hasn’t given me my life back, it has helped me build a brand new one; one beyond my wildest dreams. The lack of chaos and confusion in my life is priceless. I have peace today, I have serenity. But most of all, I have freedom. I am free from the bonds and chains of active addiction, free from the self-made prison I had myself locked up in. Thank you for reading my story and if an addict near or far- should ever want to reach out, I will always extend my arms because that was what was done for me. If you are thinking about recovery, I challenge you to find out how beautiful life is on the other side. The gifts (not materials) I have gotten from staying clean are beyond measurable. I am so grateful for life today and all of the amazing people I have met through this process. An addict, ANY ADDICT, can get clean, lose the desire to use and find a new way to live. We ABSOLUTELY DO RECOVER!!!!!