Anna | Denver, CO
“Eventually, I was treated by a school nurse who could tell I was struggling with opioid addiction, and she didn’t judge me.”
I struggled with mental wellness and some traumatic events that escalated my sense of isolation going into high school. I started using OxyContin, but was using heroin soon after – I was 14 and desperate for anything that would make me feel like I was OK. Through high school and into college, I was careful not to get caught or be a part of the drug scene. I kept it to myself and did what I had to do to keep up appearances: I was a master manipulator and still made straight A’s.
Yet inside, I was deeply ashamed of my addiction. I didn’t want help; recovery didn’t seem possible for me. I was keeping my grades up, but I’d hallucinate because of my illness, I’d nod off in class, and I was regularly overdosing. Eventually, I was treated by a school nurse who could tell I was struggling with opioid addiction, and she didn’t judge me. For the first time, I felt like I could talk about what I’d been going through, and I started to believe recovery was attainable.
I didn’t feel like I needed a formal treatment program to get into recovery – my parents thought I could get sober on my own – and it worked for a while. Then I relapsed, and the shame that I felt about relapsing almost killed me. Luckily, I have friends who were patient and made my life joyful, and that helped me stay sober. I realize now that being honest about where you’re at is not failure, and going at it alone doesn’t make it better. Having support for your recovery is so important to finding life on the other side – all of the things I’d ever wanted are possible now.