Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, Amy North.
Amy’s story is one of pain and devastation, but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Amy is proof. Read on.
How many years sober are you?
My sobriety date is September 12, 2009. So just over 5 years now.
When did you start using and why?
I come from a family of alcoholics and drug abuse. My father was very abusive. I lived in fear because he used to beat my mom. I never wanted to leave the house because I was afraid of what he might do to her.
My family was poor. At school, I never felt like I fit in with the other kids because I didn’t have the things that they had. I felt dirty and I felt like I was never good enough.
When I was in junior high I made the basketball team and it finally gave me a purpose. I loved basketball and I started making new friends. At 15 years old I started drinking wine coolers with some of those people and I loved the way it made me feel.
What was your drug of choice?
In all honesty, men were my first addiction. I needed the attention and affection of a man to feel good about myself. When one would break my heart, I’d turn to alcohol and drugs.
What was your pattern?
When I was 18, I ran off and got married and didn’t tell my family. Three weeks later I was pregnant. It wasn’t long after I saw his face on the news for murder – being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
So there I was, still pregnant, still using, and in bad relationship after bad relationship.
One night when I was 20 years old, I got into it with my new boyfriend. I took my 14-month-old baby and drove off. I was blackout drunk. I got into a wreck. When I came out of my coma, I found out my baby had been airlifted to the hospital and had 2 broken legs. The trooper told me he wasn’t going to press charges because he thought I had learned my lesson.
But I hadn’t.
How did you know you were addicted? What happened after that?
After my wreck, I was introduced to my first treatment service and my mom got custody of my child. As soon as I got out of treatment I went right back to the liquor store. I couldn’t stop. I kept using.
I had two more children. I remember leaving my kids in the car while drinking to go into a bar looking for cocaine. I kept getting arrested. I kept going back to treatment. And I kept going back to my addiction. I went to treatment 10 times. It was a vicious cycle.
In 2009, I was booked 22 times. I had 5 DUIs – 3 of which happened in just 2 weeks. I was told I couldn’t have contact with any of my kids.
What was your rock bottom?
I wanted to die so bad. I was homeless, I was in and out of hotels with people I didn’t even know. I wanted to kill myself but I was too scared.
My oldest daughter was 13 by then and had been placed in foster care. She wrote me a letter that said she would never tell me she loved me and would never call me “mom” again. I still have that letter.
I just felt like I could never forgive myself for that wreck I had with her. How could I? After growing up with an abusive, alcoholic and drug-addicted family, I swore I wouldn’t be like that. But here I was, worse.
How did you finally get into a treatment that worked?
On September 11, 2009, I was booked and thrown in jail without bond. I felt a sense of relief, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about where I would lay my head that night.
I was asked to enter the Drug Court Program. At first, I declined. I had already been to treatment 10 times. I didn’t think it would ever work for me.
Three months later they asked me to reconsider, and I finally accepted. They voted to send me to a 12-month facility and I thought I was the biggest punishment.
That year in treatment changed everything. They were incredibly strict, they made us work, they didn’t let us wear makeup or look at men we passed on our way to and from our locations, we weren’t allowed to write to our families for the first 3 months.
I earned my GED while I was there and ended up graduating from the program after one year. And I finally felt like I accomplished something in my life. I felt important and I felt like my life meant something.
What was the most important thing that you learned in treatment?
While in treatment and a halfway house after treatment, I learned spiritual principles. I didn’t have anything but God, but I learned He was all I needed.
I learned how to live by myself without a man and how to be independent.
How was your family affected by your sobriety?
Drug Court had to approve my decision to date someone. I met a man and they allowed me to go out with him. I’m now married to him. And he is truly the most wonderful man in the world to me. He loves me and supports me and treats me better than I could have ever even dreamed about.
In my third year of sobriety, I got back custody of my 3 kids. Since then, we’ve rebuilt our relationships.
What keeps you sober now?
Every morning I pray and ask for guidance. I read daily reflection books, talk with my sponsor. I go to meetings and I thank God.
I remember the pain. I don’t live there, but I don’t forget it.
What would you tell someone to encourage them to get help for their addiction?
There’s a lot of fear, but once you walk through it, there are so many blessings on the other side.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’ve received so many gifts from God in my sobriety. My record has been wiped clean. I’m a wife and a mother. I work as an addiction treatment specialist. God used to me to work with the same thing that hindered me. What a reward.