Don't Give Up - Even When You Want To
This picture is a tattoo I drew, and had put on my arm. It is me, crawling out of my own grave into a new life. The number on my tombstone is my prison number. I wear this with a great deal of pride, for it represents where I came from, and am no longer there. My past does not define me!
My name is Karen, and I'm an addict. I came from a middle class family that was a bit dysfunctional, but no one in active addiction or alcoholism. I was raised to know right from wrong, and to love God. I just didn't love me. After starting at age 14, drinking and getting high, I hit my first "bottom" at age 18. I was a happy partier, but got so bad that no one wanted anything to do with me. I hit a 28 day spin dry treatment, and went to AA meetings but did not apply the suggestions of working the steps with a sponsor, and attending meetings regularly. I married and divorced and 2 years later and I'm off and running again until I took a break to try to settle down and start a family. Over the next 10 years, I had 4 children and 2 husbands with intermittant using and another treatment center and therapy. I never could see the value in myself. Everything was a facade, it seemed. I felt so different than what I percieved others to be feeling. Meth became my shelter and my world. It turned me into everything you see in those rough ads. I lost my kids, my self respect, my family and friends. I got my first felony at age 35 for meth related charges, and was out on bond because I sought yet another treatment program. I didn't work it and went back out only to pick up felony #2 and a total of 2 1/2 years in prison. By the time I hit prison, I was relieved, because I was off the streets and away from the element I had entangled myself in. I wanted to change for a long time, but to no avail outside on the street. It was too easy to fall back out there. This is where I want to inform people that there are worse places than prison. Active addiction and death being two examples. I made a decision inside. I was clear enough for long enough to get to work on getting clean. I hit NA meetings inside and hung out with other recovering addicts in prison. I got out, got a sponsor, worked the steps, and still do. I go to NA meetings regularly. I bought into the fact that they said they loved me and they showed it by supporting my desire to stay clean. I looked for the similarities, and found true friends. Today, I have a wonderful relationship with my family. My kids love me, my parents love me, and I have a wonderful husband who is also in recovery. What's more, is that I can truly love them and myself today. All this took years to get back, but it was worth evey minute of hard work. I now work at a treatment center in a detox unit, sharing my hope and recovery with those still suffering from this deadly disease. Sadly, we can't save everyone, but it's not for lack of love and not giving up. On 1/16/2013, God willing, I will have 7 years clean. We don't have to give up, even when we want to.
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.