- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Susanne Johnson
The year 2007 is when LaShaunna’s life changed. Before that, there wasn’t really anything she wouldn’t use or abuse. Luckily, she got clean and sober before she tried heroin. She started off with pills and alcohol. In her family, where the majority is addicted to drugs, alcohol or both, she had access to alcoholic beverages at early childhood, especially during holidays, and made use of this. By twelve years of age, she started drinking on her own, soon followed by opioid pain pills.
When she was young, LaShaunna loved to dance. She did ballet, tap, jazz and many more dance styles and loved to spend many hours a week doing so. She also got into volleyball and softball and was very athletic in her youth. She dropped all of it when she was around 15 and started to make drugs her priority in life.
At age 18, LaShaunna noticed for the first time that she has an issue with drugs. She then could see her life in front of her eyes and see that something was going wrong. She thought that maybe her substance use was destructive and that she might not be heading in the right direction, that maybe something needed to change.
“I used drugs wherever I wanted to. I thought I was invincible. Sometimes I got caught,” she says. Another behavioral problem that came with her life on drugs was the need to finance her habit through stealing and shoplifting. She also got caught doing that sometimes. When she turned 18, she got the thought, “there is no more juvenile for me,” and she became afraid to go to jail if she continued her lifestyle. “Now it’s getting serious, now I need to do something about this” became the start of her recovery process.
“I dropped out of high school, and my friends were dying. Lucky ones found treatment, but I got kicked out of my home and was homeless.” She describes the negative consequences she was already observing in her life. “I got dropped on my butt, and it did hurt,” she adds. All of these things, especially witnessing the death of some close friends, made her realize that she was not invincible. “It didn’t stop me though. I realized that living recklessly can make you die. I still didn’t stop using drugs, because then all the guilt came up.”
She grew up in a family where almost everyone was an addict or alcoholic. She saw people using drugs all her life, all the time. Of course she always thought that this was normal. She found out later in treatment that it was not. Then she realized that it was only normal among those people she chose to be around or that she called family. “I sought out people who were like me. I wanted them to validate how I was living, if they didn’t, then I didn’t want to deal with them.” In her world, everyone was an addict, and she escaped the real world for a good amount of time.
LaShaunna entered her first treatment facility the day after she finished high school at age 18. She was kicked out of her home and the new home made treatment a necessary step before she could move in with them. She stayed clean and sober for about one and a half years after that and then relapsed again.
Her second attempt in recovery came at a morning in severe hangover and withdrawal. She asked God to help her out of bed and help her to go to work that day and she would go back to 12-step meetings. She attended a meeting the same night and found again the help she needed.
She had a few legal drinks after her 21st birthday before she went to treatment, but it didn’t mean too much to her. “I was drinking as if it was legal the entire time. I had fake IDs that I got from friends. I had those fake IDs taken away from me at times at clubs or so, but I got another one right away from somewhere. I didn’t care. I just said ‘okay’ and moved on. I even one time used a military ID when I was 17 and thought it was funny that everybody thanked me for my service, while I only abused it for getting booze. I only told them that I didn’t want to talk about my service time.”
Her second attempt to get sober finally brought her the freedom she was hoping for. In 2007, when she had just turned 21, she gave it a new try and succeeded. She has been sober ever since.
“I was willing to get clean and sober. I saw the daemons of my addiction all the time. I woke up not knowing where my car was. I saw all the reckless behavior I had, the trail of damage I left behind me. I was at a point where I either had to get clean and sober or I was considering killing myself, but I knew something has to change and I was unable to continue my life as it was,” says LaShaunna, “I relapsed when life became hard on me. My little brother got sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit when he was just 17 years of age. This put me into an emotional loop I was not prepared for. I didn’t have what I needed to stay sober at that time. I still struggle with that at times, but I don’t have to drink over it again,” she states
“In recovery I was able to go back to school, have my own non-profit organization, and run a business for others because they trusted me. I overcame obstacles. LaShaunna believes that one of the greatest assets of her recovery is her ability to show up and continue, even when life is rough or things go the wrong way, and overcome those issues and hang on. Things in life happen, but today she don’t allow them to destroy her. She practices attraction, not promotion, with her family. She doesn’t try to convince them of a new and better way of life, she just simply lets them watch her and see how she succeeded in sobriety. “My mom has stopped her drinking. I started a revolution of solution in my family and can today inspire them to think about their resilience and live differently.”
She now has a job with a beautiful recovery residential facility in Tennessee as their operational and business development director. Currently she is busy working on a project called “community day” to bring sober communities together. She wants others to keep in touch with their sober friends and support groups to enhance their chances of staying sober after they leave any facility. It is a program to connect all of those who need a support network around them. She is planning to make the annual Heroes in Recovery 6K in Leiper’s Fork (/heroes6k/) one of their events to bring people together for a day of fun and connection in recovery.