AMANDA | Denver, CO

It wasn’t until I stopped stigmatizing myself that I was able to start my lasting recovery.

I am Amanda. I began using OxyContin at age 16; it didn’t take long before I was addicted. Eventually, I started using heroin because it was cheaper. I hid it really well up until I had to get treatment. My mom knew I had been dabbling in weed and drinking, but was shocked when my heavy drug use came to surface. After I relapsed, there were months where I convinced everyone I was OK, and then I’d end up in the hospital. My parents tried everything to keep me grounded and control what I was doing. But I’d gotten so good at manipulating, and I would do anything to get that next fix. I think one of the misconceptions was that I was choosing this, and in a lot of ways, I was. But chemically, it got to the point where it was no longer a choice.

I eventually ran out of money and came back home, and it was seeing the pain of withdrawal that really changed how my mom saw addiction. I was violently ill, and my mom was my nurse. At that darkest point, when she was feeling so helpless and not knowing how to help me, she finally understood that it wasn’t a choice to use. From that point, she was ready to do whatever it took to help me recover. Once I had her support, that was when I finally realized that I needed to recover for my own well-being. It wasn’t until I stopped stigmatizing myself that I was able to start my lasting recovery. With my mom by my side, I embarked on a journey of healing and self-discovery. Together, we sought out professional help, attending therapy sessions and support groups. My mom became my biggest advocate, educating herself about addiction and offering unwavering support every step of the way. She was my rock, never judging or blaming me for my past mistakes, but instead encouraging me to focus on the future and the person I wanted to become. As I shed the self-imposed stigma and embraced the idea of recovery, I began to see glimpses of hope and a newfound sense of purpose.