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, a graduate from Vertava Health of Mississippi, and now a campus house manager – Cassie.
Cassie’s story is one of devastation and destruction 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. Cassie is proof. Read on.
What is your background? How did you start doing drugs or drinking?
Growing up, I was a really good kid. I was pretty much a straight-A student, maybe an occasional B. I was really shy, too.
The summer before I went to high school, when I was 14, my best friend’s older brother threw a keg party at their house. That was the first time that I ever drank alcohol. I realized that very first time that when I drank, I didn’t feel shy anymore – I felt outgoing. I felt popular.
All through high school, I drank and I occasionally smoked weed. I was really just a recreational drinker.
At 17, I graduated high school early. But that’s also when I tried Xanax for the first time.
What happened after that?
I really liked the way Xanax mellowed me out. At the time, I was working as a bookkeeper for a restaurant and I met a girl there who did meth, so I tried that, too.
I messed around with meth for a little while. That’s when my parents sent me to rehab for the first time. I actually went to rehab a few times before I was 18. But each time I got out, I went down the same path.
When I was 18, I moved into an apartment with a friend and I started popping pills of all kinds. By that point, my body wasn’t physically dependent on the pills.
How did your drug use progress?
At 19 years old, I had a child and I was sent home with Percocet afterwards. Even though I had been popping pills, that was the first time I really had a painkiller like that. The Percocet gave me energy. I was a new mom at home and I felt like Superwoman.
By that time, I was taking college classes, working full time, and I had my baby at home. So I was taking more Adderall, staying awake for days, and taking pain pills.
Not long after that, my daughter and I moved in with a boyfriend. His mom was supplying me with Lortab pills – and that’s really when I became physically dependent; I was taking 5-10 Lortabs per day.
One Easter Sunday, it turned into a violent situation, so I called my mom and dad to come get me and let me live with them. I realized I didn’t have any way to get Lortab without my boyfriend, so I told them that I needed to go to rehab… and so they sent me to another place.
When did you really start to understand your addiction was a serious problem?
I went AMA (left treatment against medical advice) at the next rehab with a guy I met while I was there. I was sober at that point, but an ulcer put me back in the emergency room where I was given a small prescription for pain pills. I took the entire bottle that day and didn’t feel anything. That’s when I knew I really had a serious problem.
What happened over the next few years?
The next few years I was in and out of jail. I moved four and a half hours away from my family and my daughter to be with some guy I barely even knew. I lived in his tool shed and got my pills from him.
I remember feeling like I was dying, that I had completely given up. So I called my dad and he had me go to a halfway house for 6 months. Even though I learned so much while I was there, it just wasn’t enough. It didn’t take long after I got out before I got high on cocaine for the first time.
I dropped down to about 85 pounds while on cocaine. I was so sick looking, I wouldn’t even go home to see my three year old daughter who was living with my parents – I just didn’t want her to see me.
My legal problems started piling up, so I moved back home to Tennessee and before long, I started taking Roxies. I would take 5-6 a day, and if I didn’t have them, I was sick.
I was in and out of rehab a few more times after that. My parents took full custody of my little girl. I started going to a Suboxone clinic and trying to pass my drug tests to get the Suboxone. But I kept violating my probation, and I eventually got kicked out of the clinic.
How did you finally get into Vertava Health of Mississippi?
I was sentenced to 60 days in jail in September. I was so sick of being in the court system, sick of doing pills, and sick of not being a mom to my daughter.
So I asked my mom to find a rehab that would actually work. Because I had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I knew I needed to try a co-occurring disorder program. That’s when my mom found Vertava Health Mississippi.
I was evaluated and the courts ordered me to go to rehab, and I chose Vertava Health Mississippi for a 6-8 week program. That was back in the fall. I’ve since graduated, but I haven’t left; I’m now working as a house manager for the women’s house.
How long have you been sober?
I’ve been sober for 3 months now, and mentally, I feel so stable.
What made your experience at Vertava Health of Mississippi different?
Vertava Health of Mississippi taught me DBT Skills (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills). I had never learned those skills anywhere else.
I learned how to deal with things when I was sober, instead of getting high. The skills might seem simple, but they’re the skills I somehow lost along my way.
What was the biggest thing you learned while in treatment?
I learned that recovery doesn’t just come on a silver platter. You get out what you put into it.
Before I came to Vertava Health, I had never been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I had outbursts of anger and excuses for everything.
My therapist here, Luanne, has taught me not to make excuses – and not to compare myself to other people. I’ve really learned to use the DBT skills instead of going off on people. I use these skills for everything.
How has your family healed? What are you doing now?
I’ve come really far, but I still have a way to go. I’m working on getting out of the court system and getting my daughter back.
My parents are so proud of me. My therapist is proud of me. And for once, it feels so great to be reliable, dependable, and sober.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Vertava Health of Mississippi?
I wish I could shake everyone who is addicted and tell them to go; give it their all. Because it’s worth it, and it actually works.
What keeps you sober each day?
You have to want to be sober. No one else can do that for you. You don’t have to hit rock bottom. I know that my rock bottom got lower and lower each time I went back to using, and that I will die if I go back down that path.
Now as a house manager at Vertava Health, I get to help other people and I love it. My recovery coach, Kelli was always there for me and believed in me – and if I can do that for just one person, it’s worth it.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
After graduating from Vertava Health, I feel like I have a huge group of friends that I can be myself around, and by whom I can feel loved.
I’ve been to 7 treatment centers: inpatient, outpatient, halfway houses – and Vertava Health is the only place that truly worked. It’s the place to go, especially if you’re a chronic relapser or have a mental disorder.
Besides my daughter, this is the best thing that ever happened to me. Vertava Health saved my life.