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 Texas, Bev. Bev was the very first person to arrive at Vertava Health of Texas, and received the honorary title of “First Lady of Vertava Health Texas.”
Bev’s story is one of pain and denial, 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. Bev is proof. Read on.
What is your background? How did you start using prescription painkillers?
I’m a Christian, stay-at-home mom, married with four daughters. My addiction started a few years ago when I had gastric bypass surgery. My first addiction was actually food, so when I had the surgery to lose weight, I turned to pain medications. Over the next few years, I had three more surgeries. All the meanwhile, the doctor that I had all the faith in the world in, continued to prescribe numerous amounts of narcotics.
What happened after that?
My doctor continued writing prescriptions, and I continued filling them. On October 6, 2014, the SWAT Team came to my house in the middle of the night – and arrested me. They charged me with 32 counts of unauthorized prescription drug refills.
Apparently the DEA came down on my doctor and the doctor had denied writing the prescriptions. Eventually, the day of the trial, the doctor confessed in court that they were authorized. But until then, I was devastated and embarrassed. I started taking more pills to numb the pain.
How did the addiction progress? What was your pattern?
By January, I started drinking and smoking in addition to taking pain pills. It was so out of character for me, but by that time, I was addicted. I no longer had the prescription from my doctor, so I turned to buying pills on the street. I was spending thousands of dollars every week to buy the painkillers: just before I got treatment I spent around $3,000 per week.
When did you realize that you were addicted?
Every time I went to the ATM for money to buy the pills, I would tell myself, “I’m not doing this tomorrow; I’m not taking 10 pills tomorrow.” I would try to figure out how I was going to pay for my daughters’ cheerleading, and still get my pills.
One day, I was at the bank – I had already withdrawn $2700 that week, and I needed $300 more. Before I could take the money out, I thought to myself, “This is a problem.” So I left the bank. But an hour or so later I went back. And then I left again. Finally, I went to the bank the third time – and I took the money out.
I cried taking the money out. I cried when I went to my guy. And that night, I cried to my husband and told him what was going on.
How did you finally get into Vertava Health of Texas?
I had done my own research online, and on February 12, 2015, I called Vertava Health and I reached Rachel. I knew I was ready to go. My children had seen so much – all of the hurtful and shameful behavior. I knew I needed help – and 4 days later, I arrived at Vertava Health of Texas.
When I got there, I was actually the very first patient to arrive. I was so nervous. But the staff was a Godsend. Because I was the first client, they started calling me the VIP, First Lady of Vertava Health of Texas. Even to this day, I return every Friday to talk to current patients and share my story. They’ve really become a second family to me.
What was the most important thing you learned about yourself while in treatment?
Before I got treatment, I was a mom first, and a wife. I didn’t know who I was or where my identity had gone. But, when I went to Vertava Health Texas, I was Bev. I was able to focus on me and who I was and who I wanted to become.
When I was taking pills, they masked who I was. At Vertava Health, I took off that mask. It wasn’t easy, but I learned how to do it. Now, I can decide what I want to do. I set boundaries with my family, and communicate with them.
How did the addiction affect your family? How are you healing together?
My daughters were very distant and angry. My two oldest are 21 and 16, and they knew what was going on – and they really took it the hardest. They cried a lot and said that I was embarrassing them, and would say that I was “having an episode” when I used. I isolated because my daughters were so embarrassed. Despite everything though, my husband and my girls stood by me.
Now, we are rebuilding our relationships and getting better. It takes time and reputation of behavior. I’ve changed and I’m different than I was before I went to treatment, but I knew I wasn’t going to walk into my house and everything would be better. I was gone for 45 days, but my family was still back at day 1. So it takes time and effort, but we are healing together.
The biggest thing for me is to look at every situation and decide on a scale of 1-10, how important it is. If it’s greater than 5, I need to address it – but if it’s less than 5, I’ve learned to let it go. It’s hard to do, but it’s helping.
After I graduated, my family and I did family counseling together, and it was absolutely worth it. I would recommend that anyone completing treatment go through family therapy.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
When you’re in that moment of compromising with yourself, justifying things that you know aren’t justifiable, you’ve got a problem. You have to wake up and realize that you can’t fix it yourself, you have to get help.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Vertava Health of Texas?
It’s a home away from home. The amenities are wonderful and they keep you distracted. I took cooking classes, I ziplined, I took a Gator around the property, spent time at the Texas facility. The staff was wonderful and accommodating. Chef was truly top-notch and cooked amazing meals. I learned so much from the classes and really felt like it was a family atmosphere.
If you’re scared to go, it’s OK. I was scared, too. But I know that now, my heart is different and my mind is different – and Vertava Health was a lifesaver to me.