Firstly, the reason that I am writing this is to bring to you a true message of hope. My story is a none-to-familiar one. I was born to an alcoholic father, who thankfully found lasting sobriety in a self help group when I was aged three. From that time onwards my life became ‘relatively’ normal.
I went to primary school and made friends with people that I would continue to be friends with for the majority of my childhood. Then when I was age 13 my parents and I moved from Melbourne to Brisbane and I started to attend one of the most elite private girls’ schools in the country. The transition from state to state was basically simple for me; though I did really miss my friends. Then at the end of Grade 10 I decided that I wanted to leave that particular school and go to a state high school that was renowned for its film and television department — I believed that I was destined to be a great film director. That was the beginning of me really making my own life decisions and would prove to be one of the biggest choices I would make in my entire life.
While I attended that school it became clear to me that my wanting to focus on study and work hard at school was not considered ‘normal’. It was however considered ‘normal’ for people to smoke pot (marijuana) before school, during school and after school. It was also not strange for people to take drugs such as acid trips (L.S.D) and speed (amphetamines) on the weekends. I however just wanted to do well at school to enable myself to go to university. That was exactly what I did. I was always known as one to put my entire energy into achieving something — and not settling until I had reached my goal. (This would later turn into one of my biggest downfalls, then later again to one of my greatest strengths). I therefore made it into university to start a Bachelor of Arts degree. I started university in the year 1993.
Sometime during the school holidays between high school and university I started to smoke pot regularly (daily) and eventually taking all of the other drugs in my spare time — speed, acid and ecstasy. I had now officially become a drug-user. Although at the time I had no idea that there was a problem with what I was doing. I was still attending university and still working my part-time job; I figured that life for me was still ‘normal’.
It was during my second year at university that I actually started a relationship with a guy who was known to be a ‘junkie’ — a heroin addict. I had fair warning from many of my friends that within no time I too would end up a junkie — addicted to heroin. Because of my strong-will and stubborn nature I refused to believe them. I think somewhere within myself I actually believed that I could change him. Time would prove otherwise. Within a short 12 months I had my first taste (injection) of the drug that would alter my life forever — heroin.
That first taste of heroin very quickly became an addiction. Within only two weeks I started using heroin everyday. The addiction very soon became like a wild animal that needed to be fed. I started spending all of the money that I had saved up from years of part-time work and then started to sell my possessions to second-hand dealers. Within the first six months of my full-blown heroin addiction I had nothing left. Financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually I was living in a desert — and to me there seemed no way out. Little did I know that the addiction would continue on for another 5 years.
I then started to rip off (basically, steal from) my friends and family and anybody else that was foolish enough to let me into their lives at that stage of my life. That too soon came to an end as people started to wise up to the fact that the heroin addiction was far more powerful than I was. I then started to steal from my work. When they wised up and fired me I was totally devastated. Because then how was I going to ‘feed’ my habit?
It was that afternoon that I made a phone call to an escort agency and they asked me to start that night — I had officially given up the will to live by that stage. I was no longer my own person, I was now a complete slave to the heroin that I believed that I needed to survive. It was the longest 12 months of my life. Prostituting myself to keep the withdrawal pains from almost killing me (at least that was how it felt at the time). I had now sold everything — including my body to pay for the heroin that was destroying every part of my life.
After almost a year on the job I made contact with an old friend of mine and he eventually agreed to help me try to detox. By this stage I was using copious amounts of heroin daily, speed at night to be able to get up and go to work and smoking a lot of pot. I would also take whatever other drugs were on offer — from the other working girls, the clients; anybody that would give me drugs I would take them. I was truly a slave to my addiction. I am not sure how he did it but he was able to lock me in a room for 5 days as I detoxed off the drugs that were threatening to destroy me.
At the end of that 5-day period he and I decided to try to commit suicide. For me personally, life had become ‘too hard’. All of the guilt and the shame from my time as a prostitute were threatening to eat me up on the inside and my body was ‘caving in’ from the years of drug abuse. So we tried to kill ourselves — obviously it didn’t work, as here I am today sharing this story with you.
After many more months of trying to get off heroin for good and it never working, because I was attempting to do something in my own strength that required supernatural strength, I found myself in a counsellor’s office being told that pharmacotherapy treatment was the only answer for me. Personally I had never had pharmacotherapy treatment up to that point because I didn’t want to exchange one addiction for another. I told the guy that I had heard something about some type of pharmacotherapy treatment that helped cases like me get off heroin and stay off it. Eventually he gave me the name and number of a doctor here in Brisbane who was treating with it. I called him and from that time on my life would never be the same.
The doctor agreed to treat me but told me that the only way my recovery was going to work was if I willingly submitted myself to a rehabilitation program. I had always refused to do that, but by this stage of my life (I had just turned 24) I was looking for a life change that was going to be permanent. The rehab that I went to ‘happened’ to be a Christian program. This meant that as a part of the structure I had to go to church, attend bible studies and prayer meetings and listen to their ‘Jesus music’. Thankfully God had a big plan for my life and seemingly had ‘led’ me to this rehab; because after several weeks of ‘working’ the program I became a Christian myself. From that moment on I gave control of my life over to Him and He has continued to grow me from glory to glory.
That was five years ago (in July 1999). Those five years have involved a lot of hard work and the absolute key for me has been a willingness to truly and deeply work through my issues. There are issues that relate directly to the addiction and some that have stemmed from the addiction. But regardless of where the issues come from they need to be worked through properly for the true sense of closure and freedom to then take control of your life.
I can now experience the completely drug-free life that I was destined to live. But also because I have been through what I have been through and come out the ‘other side’ I can also stand here today and share my story with you believing that you too will be touched and changed by it.
I know that the key to any recovery is the addict themselves wanting the change and agreeing to follow through with it. No addict can ‘do’ recovery for anybody else — regardless of who it is or how much they love them. It has to be a decision that is made by them and for them, that is the only way the recovery will not only ‘take place’ but actually transform their lives, and in turn the lives of every person in their lives that has been affected by their active addiction
I hope that this has been of some help to each and every person reading this article. I truly believe that I am who I am today in order to share with you my story to give you a message of hope.
There is a way out of addiction - here are a few steps of guidance
1. Willingness — to be treated for the addiction
2. Submission — to a program that will help to set you free from the addiction
3. Commitment — agreeing to follow through with it 100%
4. Support — build up and accept a support network; re-establish trust
5. Return — give back to others the help that has been given to you
These are the steps that worked for me, and that I have seen work in so many other cases. I hope that they may also be able to work for you, or your loved one.
Within the past five years I have married a wonderful and loving husband and we have had three beautiful and amazing daughters. I am completely committed to my marriage, my family and my church. I have also written and self-published a book entitled, “Trophy of Grace”, which is a no-nonsense account of my life so far. I truly believe that I was saved from myself because God knew that I would share my story for His glory. If you are interested in more details and background please feel welcome to check out my website — www.trophyofgrace.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope that many lives will be changed because of it.If you or anyone you know may be interested in pharmacotherapy treatment or treatment for any other addiction problem, I suggest that you contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service in your state/territory.