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My Story of Hope

Created by Kayla O

My Story of Hope

Hi, my name is Kayla and I am an addict.

My home life growing up was far from perfect. My mom and dad were just a quick fling; he was a heroin addict and when my mom needed child support, he never had the money and often ended up in jail for failure to pay. He finally signed off rights so that he could keep doing dope in peace.

My mom then got engaged to an amazing guy -- we had a nice house in Berlin and it was perfect for the time being. My mom ended up cheating on him with his best friend and needless to say, they broke up. My mother and I moved to a condo in Cromwell and she was an emotional mess.

A few months later she met a guy at work. He was still married but he convinced her he was in love with her. It was something out of a movie but without a happy ending. My mom was a nurse and one of her patients broke every bone in her body. My mom's new boyfriend was on more pain pills than the patient. I was only 7 years old so I didn't realize why they fought so much or were so distant. I had to raise myself. Life went on like that for a few more years.

I was 9 years old on Thanksgiving when I had my first drink. Mike's Hard Lemonade. The family thought it was funny to see me get a little tipsy. I liked it. But the next time I saw some in the fridge, I stole a few for myself and my friend. We had a blast until my friend's sister caught us and ratted us out to her mom. Her mom was more upset than mine. I didn't touch anything again until I was about 11.

When I was 10 years old, my mom had a baby and her boyfriend left her to be with his wife and kids. My mom was a mess. I grew to be her mother and my brother's mother. I wanted to be out. I asked my aunt if I could move in with her in Coventry. I thought life would be so great now that I was getting away from all my problems.

But of course with my luck, that wasn't the case. My aunt, who I was living with is a lesbian and her and her wife wanted to have a child. Lucky for them, my mom didn't want my brother. She couldn't stand looking at him because he reminded her of his dad. My aunt adopted my brother, so there I was, yet again disappointed and pretty much on my own.

I started noticing that my aunt always carried around this old school tin lunch-box and they would always make it a point to shut it when I came around. I was curious but I didn't think too much of it. In school, the response to a stupid comment was "What, are you smoking pot?" One night I said that to my aunt, not expecting anything serious from her -- she turned to me and said, "Yes Kayla, I am." The lunch box made perfect sense now; that's where she carried her stash and bowls. Then I found out that pretty much my whole family smokes weed.

I started seeing drugs in a different light --they can't be so bad if my family does them.

One weekend my aunt and her wife went on vacation and left my other aunt to babysit my brother and I. I had a friend over and like before, there were some Mike's Hard bottles in the fridge. We took the whole 6-pack and got wasted. I was stupid enough to hide the empty bottles under the sink so obviously I got caught. I got in trouble but not too badly. Anytime I found alcohol in the house I sneaked some. I liked it.

My attitude started changing. I would fight with my aunt more and I started to really resent my brother. He had ruined something that was supposed to be good for me. When I was 12, I moved back in with my mom. She got an apartment in Coventry so I wouldn't have to switch schools. I hated that town -- I got bullied all the time and my grades were starting to slip. My mom started to be okay with me drinking; she thought I was safer doing it in the house rather that out with friends, where she couldn't keep an eye on me.

One day, we were in the car talking about the whole weed thing with my aunt and she turned to me and asked if I wanted to try it -- "heck yeah I wanna try it!" She brought me into her room and showed me how. She left the room because she didn't want to smoke with me (like showing me how is better?). I got high as a kite and she brought me to Walmart. I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling. This was a whole new feeling to me. I usually hated myself and everyone else. However, when I was high, I was happy.

I started smoking pretty regularly. In school I had friends because I was a "bad-ass" now. One night I had some of my new friends over and I had my mom buy us some booze and give us some bud. I was having the time of my life. My grades went from C's to D's and with all the money my mom was spending to keep up with both of our habits, we had to move to a smaller apartment in Coventry. We got lucky because I went to school with the downstairs tenants and the older son just so happened to sell weed. That apartment quickly became "the party house".

In school D's became F's but I didn't care at that point. I became friends with some kids in high school. One night, one kid came over with his girlfriend and he had heroin. I was 13 and had tried heroin for the first time and I didn't really care for it. I did some and fell asleep. However, one night my best friend and I were looking for my mom's weed and found some pills instead. They were Perc 10's. We fell in love. When my mom found out she just laughed it off.

I started sneaking pills here and there. I liked them but I had been introduced to another drug. It was completely legal and only cost nine bucks at the time: Dust Off, computer keyboard cleaner. You have to be 18 or older to buy it, but back then a 13 year old could buy it and I did almost daily. My best friend and I huffed that stuff like it was our job. That high was so euphoric, causing hallucinations and black-outs. Dust Off seemed to be the only drug my mom had a problem with, probably because it was the only drug she didn't do. In 8th grade a girl brought in a bunch of pills and five of my friends were dumb enough to take them. The girl who brought them in said they were all types of painkillers. They were actually aspirin, ibuprofen, and diet pills -- they all got sick and the school went into lock-down. My friends were freaking out about getting caught so I took the bag of remaining pills to hide for them. They got caught and were all sent to the hospital. I just wanted to go home so I turned myself in for holding the pills. We all got expelled. You might have heard this story on the news a few years back: "7 Coventry Students Expelled for Pills" Yes, that was my friends and I.

My mom thought I would do better in another school. We moved to Hebron, a horrible little town. But like in all small towns with nothing to do, there's plenty of drugs.

I met Ry, my first love. He did everything: he drank, smoked, took pills, "e", dust off, coke, anything and everything. I'm 15 now and turning into a young lady. Ry was my best friend and first lover. He got me to try all sorts of drugs and introduced me to all his friends. Like in Coventry, this apartment was now the party house as well. I was in heaven, rolling on the weekends, drinking and popping pills for school -- there was never a time when I wasn't smoking.

When Ry and I broke up, I was destroyed. My depression, which was always rearing its head was now in full effect. I ended up in many psych wards all over the state. I ended up seeing Dr. Tory Westbrook. That name might sound familiar because he was on the news for sexually assaulting more than a few woman, which makes sense why he would prescribe a 15 year old Xanax. Xanax quickly became my life. It took away all my problems and got me high. But I always seemed to run out before I was supposed to.

I was mentally messed up while going through withdrawal. I found my mom's Ativan, which is a benzo just like xanax and I took the whole bottle - sixty .5mg of ativan; I was trying to kill myself.

The doctors didn't believe that someone would be so stupid to take that many so they didn't pump my stomach. By the time they realized I actually was that stupid it was too late. I remember my entire family being in that room because I wasn't supposed to make it. Somehow I did and that depressed me even more. At age 16, I dropped out of school, drinking and drugging was a full time job. I didn't have time for school. My mom started saying "I'll give you a perc to clean the house" which quickly turned into "Mom, I need a pill to clean the house". One turned into two and three and four.

I was hooked.

One night I had a party and met Kat. Wow, she was amazing. I fell in love at first sight. She moved in with me that week and she had a problem with pills too. So my mom was supporting three pill heads and just couldn't do it. She was also a raging drunk now, so stealing money and the car was almost too easy. I hated being sick from not having pills. So one night, one of our mutual friends had some heroin. I was hesitant to try it because it did nothing for me when I was 13 -- what's it going to do for me now that I'm 17?

Apparently, a lot.

I loved everything about heroin. The taste, the nod, the high, and the way it let me interact with people. Not only did I love the high, I loved who the high made me. I found out Hebron was full of heroin; getting it was too easy. But the kids I was getting it from did it also and I could tell they pinched my bags. So I started stealing the car with Kat so we could get our own heroin. All it took was a 15 minute ride to Hartford. When buying two bundles a day became too expensive, I started thinking about how I could stretch my stash. I got a new needle from another friend and they taught Kat and I how. I only needed one bag to feel better than I did snorting five. How crazy Kat and I got about our drugs led us to break up. We were abusive towards each other but heroin numbed that pain.

I went overboard and my mom finally made me go to Rushford detox. That helped for about a month. After detox my mom sent me to live with her good friend, whose daughter was a heroin addict. She thought I would be safe because Mel was in NA and doing "great". I found out Mel was still using and doing benzos. I quickly got myself a prescription for xanax again and started working so I could do dope with Mel. I thought I could do more than I really could and one night I shot up six bags and overdosed. I was pronounced dead, but after a few shots of Narcan, I came back to life. I got kicked out of my mom's friend's house because "I was the root of all evil" and I "ruined their family". I didn't understand why no one was happy I was alive.

Angry at their reaction, I moved back in with my mom. She wasn't going to support my habit anymore so I posted an ad on craigslist and started prostituting myself. I was rolling in money, but hated have sex with guys only when I was sick. I started prostituting to my drug dealers, who would get "e high", run a train while I was barely coherent, and give me more. It was perfect. I overdosed again. I don't know why, but my mom decided to start giving me money for it, just enough to keep me from being sick but not enough to overdose. But I did. My mom found me on the living room floor, blue with a needle still in my arm.

I got sober again for a while and my mom went to AA so she could get her life back. She got fired from her job and we were getting evicted. She moved into a sober house in Manchester and I was sent to my aunt's, who I lived with when I was 11. She wasn't going to deal with any of my stuff. She's an ex-army and a total "hard ass". But I still found my ways. I got kicked out of there and went to live with a friend. It wasn't working out.

I would sometimes go to AA meetings with my mom and I met this 40 year old woman named Kendra, We started seeing each other, she had money and an apartment. She started using again and supporting my habit. Then she couldn't support me anymore. I had to do something. She wasn't going to let me prostitute myself. What's the next best thing? Stripping. I was 19 and I had to have my mom sign a paper saying I could dance. Obviously, she did. I was making so much money. I could support my habit and I even bought us a new car. I started seeing one of the dancers behind Kendra's back. When I got caught, Lala and Kendra decided I was horrible and started dating each other. They kicked me out of Kendra's apartment.

I was still living in the same apartment complex as Kendra and she felt bad for ditching me like that so she was still supporting my habit since I couldn't work at the same club as Lala. I'm 20 now. When Kendra and Lala broke up, it was my fault. Kendra had a Xanax prescription that I wanted and I called Lala and told her Kendra had been seeing me behind her back. Kendra shoved me onto the couch and in my fall I knocked the Xanax bottle off the table. I picked it up without her noticing, grabbed her stash of heroin and overdosed, in her bedroom. Kendra went with me to the hospital and we walked home the next morning. I was still high but we got home and did some more dope. My roommates knew something was wrong so they called my best friend and had an intervention with me.

I was so sad and scared that I decided, if I'm going out, I'm going out with a bang. I took the rest of my stolen Xanax and heroin. I overdosed again -- two nights in a row, that's a new record. I was high for days, but somehow I ended up in ADRC detox, then I went to the sobering center in Danbury, then to Rushford inpatient rehab and back to my mom's sober house.

In Rushford I tackled all my demons, found out who I am and that I can be happy with sobriety.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but here I am: sober and loving life. I don't have many friends, but it's for the best. I have a great network and my mom and I get along.

Life is a beautiful thing <3

There is hope for anyone who wants a better life.

Partners for Hope raise critical funds on behalf Partnership to End Addiction – the nation’s leading organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Every dollar raised on behalf of the Partnership* will help ensure free, personalized family support resources, including our national helpline, peer-to-peer parent coaching, customized online tools and community education programs, can reach those who need them most. Please consider donating to this fundraiser and sharing this page.

*Donations made to Partnership to End Addiction are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. All contributions are fully tax-deductible, as no goods or services are provided in consideration in whole, or in part, of any contribution to this nonprofit organization.  EIN: 52-1736502

Guest Book


1. Megan Fritz
Congratulations on 2 years in recovery today! Thank you for sharing your story, Kayla!
2. Julie
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Congrats to you on your recovery!
3. RD
Stay strong! My twin brothers are still struggling with their addictions and they have lives in the same towns as you so I know how hard it is and they have a better support system and a less challenging upbringing! Seriously think about going to speak in schools and tell your story. You're going to help people!
4. Laura
You are SOOOO lucky and blessed to have made it through all you have and have made the leap into sobriety. Good for you. Obviously, your higher power has your back! Stay close to the program and meetings over the holidays. Wishing you many blessings, and continued happiness in sobriety. Not always easy, but ALWAYS better than it ever was before!