My name is Lauren the picture you see is real. before and after. I have been drug free for 4 years. I didn't have a horrible child hood. I came from an average family and had tons of love and attention. I started hanging out the the " cool kids" and wanted so desperately, as most kids do, to " fit in". by the time I was 14 I had left home where my iv use of Heroin and cocaine was considered unacceptable and opted to be homeless. I would live this way for 12 years. in and out of rehab, jail and eventually prison. spending 3 years in prison was the best thing that ever could've happened to me. all those 30-90 day rehabs and jail bids were a joke. that gave me just enough time to get some energy back, gain a little weight, meet a few "new friends" and go back at it. it wasn't until prison that I finally gained some clarity, put actual thought into my past and reflect on my life... who am I? what have I become? how many bridges did I burn? what do I want to do with the rest of my life? who do I want to be? when I came home from prison, on 3 more years of parole I had no where to go, my family just wasn't convinced that I was done, as they had heard the same old song and dance so many times before. I was placed in a drug infested homeless shelter in newark nj, the same place I spent many years getting high, living in the streets. I was scared to death, but one thing was for sure, my mind was made up, I was not going to use any more no matter what. in the shelter I was offered drugs many many times by both residents and staff. this was my test, how bad did I want this?
while in the shelter I enrolled in school to become a social worker, to help people because everybody in this world has issues and vices and everybody could use a helping hand. I want to help people now, not hurt them...wow.... strange sometimes when I look at my past that I am actually the same person. I also got a job, a minimum wage crappy job but....I need the money and fast money is no longer an option. I am living right today, everything I do is legal, I no longer worry about the cops stopping me and running my name and finding 14 warrants, dragging me off to jail. it took a lot of work, and about a year of saving literally every single penny but I managed to get out of that horrid shelter. today, I sit here in my own apartment, that I pay for, on my day off from work and school and share my story with you.
I am proof. yes, I still work that horrible minimum wage crappy job that I've been at for over a year with no raise, and swollen ankles from too much work, I am less than a year away from my AS degree with a 3.8 gpa and a promise into the 4 year school of my choice in the accelerated BA and MA program. I have stresses and hardships and most importantly, I have an amazing network of people in my life, none of whom unfortunately include my family who can't seem to allow me to live down past mistakes. I have pushed them away because they have done nothing but try to force me down the road of guilt. that is their problems that they need to resolve, I have resolved mine. I am free, I am clean and I am living right, most importantly, I AM HAPPY!!! live, laugh and love...life is too short to be wasted. many blessings.
This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.