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, Jackie.
Jackie’s story is one of devastation and fear 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. Jackie is proof. Read on.
How many years sober are you?
I have been sober since September 19, 2014 from intravenously abusing meth. I graduated from treatment December 14, 2014. I consider myself 6 months sober.
How old were you when you started drinking or doing drugs? What was your drug of choice?
When I was 14, I started sneaking out and skipping school to drink. I started doing drugs when I was 16, going on 17 years old. Meth became my drug of choice when a guy I met introduced me to it.
Since the day one of using alcohol and drugs, I always overdid it to the point of having seizures. I could never just have a little – I always needed more.
I felt like I was never really accepted by the people I wanted to be accepted by. The only people who accepted me were the ones who did drugs – so I did drugs, too. I knew I was getting attention in ways that weren’t comfortable for me – but those were the only ways that worked. I was miserable from the very first day, but I didn’t want to feel alone.
What was your pattern?
When I would drink – whether it was me and a couple girlfriends, guys or a mixed party – my goal was to get sloppy drunk so I could act promiscuous. Growing up, I lacked attention and affection from my father, so I would get drunk and try to find it from other men.
I stopped seeking male attention when I found that needle. When I started doing meth, I learned how to manipulate people. I started in my hometown, and then all of the towns around me. I made sure the people I manipulated didn’t know each other and manipulated them into getting me my next fix.
What did addiction look like to you?
My addiction was chasing a feeling I thought was missing. I wanted a mother in my life, I wanted my dad to love me. I wanted to know how to express myself so I wouldn’t feel so alone all my life.
At first, I thought I could fill that hole with materialistic things and was addicted to stealing anywhere from anyone. I’d steal anything from a dollar to a thousand dollars. Then I became addicted to running the streets. I sought out male attention in the most negative ways – I neglected my body severely and used it to manipulate. I used my mind to outsmart people by acting ditzy, but staying one step ahead of the game. I turned into an uncontrollable monster.
No one really knew the real Jackie. They knew the one I wanted them to know – the one that seemed sweet and innocent. I fooled everyone with my manipulation.
I went from dope house to dope house. Every binge adventure I’d be at a house with continuous traffic, never any food, sometimes no water, and even no electricity. I’d stay from weeks to months, just to get that next fix. I quickly learned not to trust anyone – when someone seemed nice, you had to watch out for them. I was kidnapped by a pimp for two weeks, forced to sell myself so he could make money. I was touched in my sleep by perverted old men, men who didn’t know the word – “no.”
Meth caused me to lose my inner voice and I became completely disconnected from myself in order to survive the drug world.
How did you know you were addicted?
About a year into using, I knew I was addicted. I wasn’t stupid – I knew I wasn’t behaving normal, living normal, or doing anything close to having a normal life. I knew I had a problem. But I really didn’t care.
I mistreated my body that God gave me. I abused it and disrespected it. I took advantage of my looks to manipulate men to do what I said, when I said it, and how I said it. I manipulated women by pretending to be interested in what they had to say, I gave them false hope so they’d break bread with me.
I stole money, jewelry, happiness, peace of mind, and sanity from my Grandma – the woman who raised me. I caused so much damage to so many peoples’ lives without a care in the world.
How did you feel while you addicted to meth?
I felt weak, lost, empty, and worthless. I felt unworthy of getting sober. I felt as if I was ready to die – in fact, right before I went to treatment, I was trying to die. I couldn’t stop that needle, so I would take anything and everything that was put in front of me. I started drinking again. I had no self respect left, so I gave on myself. I stopped cleaning and cooking; stopped grooming myself; I stopped showering; I stopped putting on makeup; I stopped fixing my hair. I just didn’t care about me anymore.
How did you get into Vertava Health?
I finally came to the realization that I couldn’t do this on my own. I realized my family couldn’t do it for me. So, I turned to God and said, “I need you.”
I was sick of living that way, repeating the same cycle. I was tired of manipulating. I wanted real friends. I wanted a normal life. I was tired of trying to control every aspect of my life.
I was at my lowest and I was too ashamed to pray to God myself. So I started calling a prayer hotline. I’d talk to them everyday. One day, I couldn’t find the number in my call log, so I looked it up. I thought I called the prayer hotline, but I actually called Vertava Health.
When I made that call, a woman named Rebecca answered and I told her I needed someone to pray for me. I told her everything that was going on and how I couldn’t live this way anymore. All she said to me was, “Do you trust me, Jackie? Do you trust me?” The next thing I knew, I was at Vertava Health Mississippi.
God is amazing and real. He worked that day to save me. He’s always there, even when you try to avoid Him like I did.
What was the most important thing you learned at Vertava Health of Mississippi?
The most important thing I learned were DBT [Dialectical Behavior Therapy] skills. I learned to accept what is, and let go of what isn’t. I learned to quit trying to change and control things, and to live.
When I was using, I was my own worst enemy. All the terrible things I thought everyone was doing to me, I was doing to myself. The DBT skills really helped me to accept things. Those skills are still, to this day, the way I live my life.
How was your family affected by this disease?
My grandmother raised me, and it destroyed her world. It stole her peace, it made her worry to the point where she didn’t eat, sleep, or do anything but wonder if I was alive or raped. My dad became depressed and isolated. He became obsessed with knowing if I was ok – to know if I was safe or homeless.
I broke my family financially, and forced my father and stepmom to work overtime, to sell the fouwheelers she pool, the camper – all of the nice things they deserved. My dad repeatedly bought me vehicles to reassure that I was safe and that I had somewhere to sleep at night. I had no appreciation for the cars – I totalled and trashed all three of them by driving recklessly. I put my grandma in a financial hole without a care.
As much pain as I gave them, their love for me never faded. They stood right by my side and they were there when I needed them. My dad’s now putting in efforts to rebuild our emotional relationship, and I’m still close with my grandma. They are understanding, and things have been forgiven.
Do you still struggle with addiction?
Yes, I do. I don’t struggle so much with the temptation – but more the mentality. When I’m doing well, I still have thoughts that, “one more won’t hurt.” But one more will hurt. I can’t handle it, and I can’t manage drugs. Drugs will win the battle if I let them.
This is my life, my choices, my journey, and my strength. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, and I still have a way to go. I pick myself up one step at a time.
Seeing how my life is now, I’m going to be somebody. It doesn’t matter how hard I have to work, or what I have to do – I will be somebody. Nothing is worse than going back.
Coming from a girl who had no hope, and no will to change – I really am doing so great.
What would you tell someone to inspire them to get treatment at Vertava Health?
You can change for the better, and it’s worth it.
There’s so many people out there who care, you just have to find them. At Vertava Health, I saw nothing but good people. I’m now meeting new, good people. You just have to want it.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Some people feel so alone because they’ve gone through so many things. I want you to know you’re not alone. Even though it may be hard to admit the things you’ve done and the things that have happen – know that you’re not alone.