3 YEARS AND 10 MONTHS IN RECOVERY
32 | NASSAU COUNTY, NY
When I had shared this project on Facebook, Lucille made a comment on the post that she had come across my website when she had received an email from LIRA (Long Island Recovery Association). She told me that a link to my project was attached to the email for her for her monthly peer workforce learning collaborative and support group. She was so excited about the project and shared it several times on her page.
Later on in the fall, I chatted more with Lucille. She shared with me that it was her first time sharing her story in writing. Throughout the process, she was extremely thoughtful with what she wrote and her story shines because of this. Lucille is so passionate about helping others and is one of the sweetest souls I have met. Reading about her approaches to maintaining her recovery with Reiki, crystals, and art therapy are all very inspirational.
The first time I was exposed to opioids was from peer pressure when I was 15 years old and had experimented with some Vicodin and Percocet pills.
The summer after I graduated from high school, I was using cocaine more frequently. Around that time, someone had introduced me to Oxycontin, as the euphoria I felt from coke was wearing off and I was feeling the awful effects of the come down. I tried using Oxycontin to help with the crash and inability to fall asleep. Eventually, I was using Oxycontin daily. I realized I was addicted when my tolerance increased and I needed to take more pills in order to produce the same effect. I started experiencing physical withdrawals if I skipped a day of using opioids. I continued to use opioids despite negative consequences.
I was picked on and bullied in middle school. I attended a Catholic elementary and middle school, and I hung out with my peers who attended public school and who were a couple of years older than I was.
I wanted to fit in, feel accepted, and be liked by my friends. I got picked on in the Catholic school I attended, so I sought approval from the teenagers who I hung out with after school and on the weekends who went to the local public school, but they picked on me too.
As far back as I can remember, when I was in kindergarten around the age of 5-6 years old, I felt as if there was something wrong with me and I did not fit in with the rest of the kids my age.
I used opioids for 13 years and about 6 months.
I deeply wanted to fit in, look and be cool. I was always a sensitive and highly empathetic person. As an empath, I’ve always had an ability that came natural to me. I often sensed and picked up on the feelings and emotions of those around me.
I followed what my peers did in hopes that they would then stop picking on me and I would feel cool and accepted.
I believe peer pressure, my addictive personality, my desire to fit in with others, my sensitive nature, and empathetic side contributed to my substance use.
My addiction affected every area of my life. I reached a point where I could no longer deny the negative effects, circumstances, and events that began to happen as a result of substance use.
Though, I did experience many fun times and good times with my friends before my addiction became out of control, being involved in that lifestyle and associating with others who used substances kept the doorway open.
I returned to Narcotics Anonymous meetings repeatedly and gained some time clean, but it was short lived. I’ve always had a loving and supportive family who wanted and tried to help me, but addiction is such a tricky disease that it was not as simple as sending me to another treatment facility for a 28-day inpatient program. I signed up at a local methadone clinic, and was on and off methadone for about 8 years. Medication Assisted Treatment on methadone helped to eliminate cravings and enabled me to stay clean and get my life back together—sometimes for longer periods of time than others.
It eventually led me back to the pain that I felt deep within my soul. It led to legal issues, often getting pulled over and searched by the police, living in fear of the future, regret of my past, and living with constant feelings of overwhelming guilt and shame.
I repeated the same pattern for years—getting clean, doing good for a few weeks or for many months until I relapsed and then returned to substance use yet again. Ultimately, the disease of addiction changed me.
My first major turning point was in late 2014 when my significant other left me and ended our six and a half year long relationship because of my repeated hurtful actions during my reoccurrence with substance use. Addiction caused me to do things that made me feel unworthy of love, attention, affection, and the ways that I was treated by my significant other at that time in my life.
I unintentionally self sabotaged my relationships. I lived with feelings of self-hatred and anger and was left with little to no self-esteem. I continued in a downward spiral which led me to hit another bottom in late 2016. This turning point led me to finding my path to long term recovery.
I tried several different pathways of recovery but I continued to return to active addiction despite repeated attempts at each pathway that I tried.
The pathways that I’ve tried include 12-Step fellowships, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, individual one-on-one therapists that specialize in addiction recovery, psychiatrists, several inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities, and MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment). I was on and off several methadone clinics over the course of 8 years.
After many unsuccessful attempts at long term recovery, I eventually began to feel hopeless, and gave up on there ever being a way out for me. I was also desperate, and sick and tired of waking up feeling sick and tired every day.
I was willing and desperate to find recovery that lasted more than a few weeks, 4 months, or 11 months until another recurrence.
I have been in recovery for 3 years and 10 months.
Addiction energy healing, the holistic pathway, and faith-based recovery is what I found to be the most helpful for me. That was one of the only pathways that I hadn’t yet tried. Since addiction affects individuals mentally, physically, and spiritually, I needed a spiritual resolution. I needed to rediscover and form a relationship with a Higher Power of my own understanding. My connection to God and my daily practice of prayer and meditation is a huge part of my recovery and my life.
A good friend of mine took me to a local Reiki energy healing and Meditation Circle when I was in early recovery and still struggling with cravings. Attending my local Reiki Meditation circle every week helped me to break free from the chains of addiction, find freedom from the cravings to use substances, and slowly transform my life.
I maintain my recovery on a daily basis through prayer, meditation, holistic practices, energy healing, music, and art therapy.
I enjoy using acrylic paints for paint pouring on a canvas to create art. Reading, nature, the beach, staying connected to my support group, attending recovery based meetings, giving back and volunteering also help me maintain my recovery.
I have dealt with grief and depression after being in recovery for some time.
I’ve lost loved ones and suffered through two of the biggest losses that I’ve ever experienced. My ex-boyfriend of 6 and a half years/best friend of 10 years at the time of his death on March 8th, 2019, suffered a great deal of pain as he fought for his life from early 2018 – March 2019, with my help and support.
About one year and four months after my friend passed away, I lost my Grandma on July 25th, 2020, while I was still coping with the grief, depression, and traumatic events that surrounded my friend’s death. My Mom had a major surgery in January 2019. It was emotionally painful to see her in the condition that she was in when they brought her into ICU for recovery from a twelve hour long surgery. Through all of this, I asked for help with grief and depression. I began individual one-on-one therapy in April 2019, shortly after my friend passed.
2018 was the most challenging and highly emotional given the events that took place and the story around my best friend’s last year alive.
Prayer, meditation, God, personal development, spirituality and energy healing are important to my recovery.
I needed a power greater than the disease of addiction and greater than my own strength to help me in recovery. My family, my fiance, my friends, my peers, and my dog Spike are all part of my support group. Music, reading, art therapy, crystals, essential oils, Reiki, writing and blogging helped me to fill my life up with things that I enjoy doing. Every friend that I’ve lost to the disease of addiction influences my recovery by giving me the motivation to keep going and do my best to help others who are suffering from substance use disorder to find their way out just as I did.
In recovery, I’ve slowly transformed every area of my life.
Physically, I feel stronger, healthier, and I take care of myself and my body. Mentally, I’ve lost the desire to use substances. Overcoming cravings was one of my biggest challenges in addiction and in early recovery. Reflecting back, I never thought I would be free of the cravings and mental obsession to use substances. That is one of the greatest freedoms in recovery!
Emotionally, I experience a full range of emotions instead of numbing my feelings with substances. Spiritually, my spirit feels alive and free. My relationships are healthy and supportive. My loved ones and the people in my life trust me and can count on me.
I am a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate - Provisional, and I volunteer at a local recovery center. My goal is to complete my 500 hours of volunteer or paid work, take my test, and upgrade my certification to a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate.
My dream is to have my own business as a recovery coach and use my story in order to help others who are suffering from substance use disorder.
I also want to support those who have a loved one suffering with a substance use disorder.
One of the most painful feelings is doing everything within your power to help your loved one yet watching everything go so terribly wrong. I’ve experienced both sides — feeling stuck in active addiction myself, and being in long term recovery while watching one of my loved ones suffer and fight for his life. I lost my loved one despite everything I did to try helping him find his way out. That pain stays with you and changes you.
If me sharing my story helps just one person or saves one soul, then I did my job and it was worth it.
You have to help yourself first before you can help anyone else. Self-care is important. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
I learned that if I don’t take care of my needs –mentally, physically, and spiritually–then I can’t show up for my loved ones and for others and help them as my best self.
To those still experiencing addiction to opioids, don’t give up. Keep trying no matter how many times you fail. Keep trying no matter how many times you have a recurrence with substances. Be open minded and willing to try new things. Sometimes the miracle comes the moment before you are about to give up.
To those in early recovery, explore and discover the things that you are passionate about. Fill your life up with things that you enjoy doing. When you do things from your soul and do what lights you up inside, you will find meaning and purpose.