This is the last Sunday of 2013, and I cannot help but look around at my current surroundings and grin like the Cheshire Cat. I’m on the precipice of a whole new life in the fabulous city of Las Vegas. I have a great job at a resort. It offers benefits I once merely dreamed about, and the pay is substantially more than I’ve ever made by legitimate means before. Bonds with family that were fractured fragments of nothingness have grown together again, and occasionally I have to stop myself from throwing open my front door and proclaiming to the world, “I’m clean!”
Seventeen years. That is how long I’ve battled meth, benzodiazepines and other drugs. I started partying when I was young. I was listless and bored and had no clue who I was or who I wanted to be. I floundered around a lot especially in my middle school years. My body developed sooner than most of my peers, and male peers said things that made me think I was strange and out of place. I soon realized I got attention from guys who were older, and by the time high school began, I had a circle of friends primarily over 21 years old. I had easy access to alcohol and easy access to drugs that the kids my age did not. From that point on, I became known as the girl who could get anything for anybody. I was selling weed and acid in front of the school before the first bell rang. My pager went off so much it would be on “overflow.” For the first time in my life, people needed me. I finally had some notoriety. This set the tone for the next half of my entire life. I did my first line of crystal meth in 1996 when I was 16 years old, and it grabbed me the first second it hit my brain. I felt good, powerful and attractive, and it made me lose weight. After the very first use, I was hooked.
Seventeen years is a long history of drug abuse, and obviously my stories are infinite. There was a federal drug conviction and jail time, the birth of my two wonderful sons, a six-year mental and physical nightmare of abuse by their father, multiple suicide attempts, trips to hospitals and psychiatric wards and, of course, trip after trip to various inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities. I’d stay clean here and there but never lost the desire or longing for the drug. Because I hadn’t dealt with the inner reasons for my substance abuse, I relied heavily on the drama of addiction and the superficial world that we tend to inhabit while using to avoid having to deal with the real-world issues that kept me sick and miserable.
On October 4, 2013, I woke up in a hospital bed with my head bandaged and a crew of nurses looking at me in an apprehensive manner. They were wondering if they should get another shot of Zyprexa ready for me, as I’d been acting out in an extremely erratic manner. The details of how I came to be there are fuzzy to this day. Sometimes I have dreams about what led me there, and there are some lucid memories of the last shot of dope I put in my arm and the handful of benzos I chased with a swig of whiskey. My apartment had been vandalized, picked through, torn up and rendered trash. The last week of my drug use is the scariest one of my entire life because I simply don’t remember more than a few hours of the entire thing. I remember vague details of my head going through my bedroom window, the shock of seeing blood run down and begin pooling on my shirt and cops and EMTs showing up, but after that there is nothing. Apparently when you shoot meth and eat benzos like candy, you become a real-life zombie.
Waking up in that hospital bed was the ultimate rock bottom for me. The years of abuse had not been easy ones, but having so little memory about an entire week of my life and dealing with its aftermath was the shove I needed. On January 4, 2013, I will have 90 days drug free, and for the first time it is by my own choice. I left my hometown of San Antonio, Texas on Halloween to move to Nevada so I could “retire” from my occupation in the sex trade and do what I do best: rock the hospitality industry with my gift of gab. It is cheaper to live here, and you make more money. I have heard from many people that they cringed when I announced my plan to move to Vegas, “Sin City,” but the truth is that those same people are now smiling and cheering me on as I remain consistent, clean and smiling. I have a great full-time job. There’s magnificent natural beauty all around me, and I see God everywhere.
The moral of my story? If I can do it, so can anyone! Here are the main aspects of what got me clean and what keeps me in this magical place:
- Strong faith
- Interaction with my peers in recovery
- Women’s groups
- Getting out of self through service to others
- Prompt admission of my wrongdoings and acceptance of responsibility for my own actions
- Extreme gratitude
- Genuine concern and compassion for others
- Love for myself
- Recognition of my triggers and the individuals that cause harm to my serenity and avoidance of these at all costs
- Worthwhile pastimes that replace old pastimes
- Taking prompt and immediate action to tackle personal and professional goals
Meth and other substances are literal monsters. Their magnetic pull on our lives is strong, and we must fight hard and diligently to overcome their demonic influence. The good news is that it is possible to kick them to the curb. As I round the corner into 90 days of freedom and a brand new year, my smile is full of hope, wonder and anticipation for all the good things out there that will be mine. I give thanks to God, my family, my true friends and to all the heroes in recovery whose stories and triumphs have deeply inspired me. Thank you all so much!