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 recent graduate from Vertava Health, Cori. Cori’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. Cori is proof. Read on. What is your background? How did you start doing drugs or drinking? Growing up, I had a wonderful, beautiful childhood. My biological father was a drug addict – but my mom took me and my older sister when we were 1 and 3 years old and left him. He wasn’t a part of my life, but I think I inherited some of his addictive behaviors. My mom remarried and they had my younger brother, but I always felt like I was the “favorite” child. My family celebrated every occasion with booze, and it was included in every aspect of life. Us kids were always offered it at Thanksgiving, “Do you want red wine or white wine?” One of the earliest pictures we have of my brother is of him nose-diving into an Old Fashioned as a one-year-old – which everyone thought was hilarious. My dad was a pilot, so he was gone all the time, and my mom worked nights managing a restaurant. Even though us kids were home by ourselves a lot, our home was happy and loving. I excelled in school, I was an athlete, and even homecoming queen. When I was 18, right before Mother’s Day, my dad confided in me that he was in love with someone else and he showed me the pictures of the other woman – and I had to keep the secret until he left my mom. That’s when the emotional disconnect began. My dad and I stopped communicating. My sister was off at college. My brother and I were home. My mom was so devastated she couldn’t get out of bed, and I ended up taking care of her. What happened after that? Once I graduated high school, I moved to Hawaii to be a nanny. I started partying harder; drinking and dabbling in ecstasy. After about a year there, I decided I needed to go to college, so I moved back to California to attend school. My roommate came from a very rich family and so we had the money to party really hard – we were drinking everyday, smoking weed and getting high, and dabbling in cocaine. By my second year of college, I couldn’t focus on school – so I quit and moved home. I started working at a restaurant and dating a bartender. He was an alcoholic, and we drank heavily together. He ended up dying from alcoholism – and I participated in his drinking until the day he died. How did your addiction progress? Over the course of the next few years, I had several unhealthy and abusive relationships. One boyfriend would force me to take ecstasy by holding my mouth and nose closed until I swallowed the pill. I became bulimic after being called fat – I was mentally and physically used, and stalked. My drinking was out of control. The booze got so bad, I would do coke to keep me up because I would get so drunk. Booze became the most important thing in my life. In 2008, I got an insurance job with a huge, national insurance company – and for a while, the booze got better. My boyfriend and I were still drinking, but I stopped doing as much coke. I started kicking a** at work – and when I’d get a promotion, I’d drink. When I wasn’t doing well, I’d drink. Any excuse I could find, I would drink. One morning, while driving to work around 10am – I was annihilated wasted. I pulled over on the side of the highway and waited for the police to come and arrest me. I couldn’t even see in front of me I was so drunk. When police arrived, I blew a .46. I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed; it was my second DUI. During the time that my mom couldn’t reach me, she thought my boyfriend had killed me. What happened after that? After that, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, and I moved in with my sister. On my 1 year sober anniversary and 30th birthday, my family and I took a trip to Palm Springs. On that trip, my boyfriend proposed to me, and my mom walked out crying. He chose how everything was going to be done, what I had to wear and how we had to do things – and slowly everything about my identity was taken away from me. One day, a girlfriend at work gave me half of a Norco. I was so high, and so happy. Soon, I was taking half of her prescription per month. I was spending $100 every 3 days on Norco – and taking 40 per day. My stomach was destroyed. I stopped using to try to have a baby. I had several miscarriages, but was finally able to have what I thought was a successful pregnancy. At 19 weeks, however, I was put on bedrest with the fear that I may lose yet another child. We moved in with my mother-in-law who was also an alcoholic. My husband was completely shut down. When I finally gave birth to my son, I stayed sober through nursing him – but immediately went back to drinking and drugs after that. I was a stay-at-home mom, not able to afford the pills I once used, so I found heroin to keep from going through the withdrawals. My dealer told me she also wanted to get off heroin, so she started going to the methadone clinic – but I didn’t want to stand in line with my child to get methadone. I wanted desperately to stop using, but couldn’t even go to the methadone clinic because I was with my baby all day everyday. How did you get into Vertava Health? Everything came to a head and I ended up in detox. At that point, I was really ready for it. My mom and my husband called all over the country to try to find a bed for me at a treatment facility – and by the act of God, I ended up at Vertava Health. What was it about Vertava Health that inspired your healing? The second I got there, I had no desire to use. It removed a huge, dark, disgusting cloud over me that I wanted to escape. It was a combination of all of the elements that they offer there: The classes were phenomenal, with one-on-one interaction. It was a beautiful thing to have those listening ears. And the recovery coaches there were my biggest supporters, because they’ve walked a similar path. The physical aspect of it – I chopped down a tree to get out some anger; I ziplined to work through my fears; fished when I needed to find peace. The whole experience was unbelievable, and I don’t think there’s any other place on earth that has all of those outlets. I truly believe the skills I learned at Vertava Health are irreplaceable.| What was the biggest thing you learned while in treatment? I’ve learned to deal with life with new tools. I do yoga, I journal, I go to therapy. I have the core tools that I need to stay sober, even when I am going through some very dark challenges in my life. How long have you been sober and what keeps you sober each day? Today marks my three months sober! I think about my son, and I connect with him everyday. I’m present for him now, not distracted thinking about getting drugs. I pray everyday, I do yoga everyday, and I journal. I’m focused on the outcome that I want for my life, and that keeps me going. What would you tell someone who is maybe walking a similar path that you did? I was at rock bottom when I went to Vertava Health. I was praying that I could go to treatment. When it comes down to it, weigh the pros and cons. Do you want to keep numbing? I know it’s more comfortable to hide, but I promise the pros of treatment far outweigh the cons. I have a life now that I can connect with my son. It was hard to leave him to go to treatment, but I I was only away from him so I could come back and truly be with him. If I can do it – and stay sober through everything that life is throwing at me right now, everybody can do it. I’m going through hell, but I’m doing it. Is there anything else you’d like to say? At Vertava Health, you can pick and choose your path to recovery. It’s a blessing because it let’s you walk a path that will best help you. And even after graduation, many of us still keep up with each other and encourage one another, we send group texts with prayers and help each other to stay grounded and connected. There’s nothing bad about Vertava Health- they love you and want you better.
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