My name is Bethany. I am a heroin addict. I have been clean for four years now. I can’t say that I will ever not be an addict because when it comes to opiates, I cannot stop. Before I found opiates, I was an angsty teen who loved trouble. As a kid, I moved around, so I never went to a school for two years in a row. My mom and dad were poor and had no idea what they were doing. My stepdad adopted me because my biological father was an alcoholic and addicted to cocaine. My birth father was abusive, and my mom did everything she could to get me away from him. So, I had this new family and moved to Oregon. It was good for a little while. Mom and dad were always fighting, so my home was like a war zone. So many of these things shaped me into the woman I am today.
I started using drugs when I was 14. I had been smoking weed and drinking with my friends, went to juvenile hall twice before the age of 16, and started running away from home. I never fit in, and I was always different. I had always had a fascination with drugs since I was a kid. I didn’t like how I felt and wanted to change it. I didn’t do much before I found heroin. I never did pills. I did ecstasy a couple of times. Mushrooms were horrific for me, and I dropped acid once. Then one night, I was in Portland, Oregon. I was hanging out with men in their thirties, and I was seventeen. They asked if I wanted to get high; I thought they meant weed. I followed them, and suddenly they had needles and cookers out. They were putting belts on their arms, and I asked, “what are you doing?” They said, “heroin.” I shook and said, “I had never done it before.” They said they would show me. So, I let some guy inject me with heroin with a dirty needle at seventeen. I didn’t even know that you could do heroin any other way. They teach you in drug prevention classes in school that you use needles to do heroin. I remember I kept asking him if it was going to kill me over and over. He finally looked at me and said in a very gnarly voice, “Do you want to do it, or do you want to be a pussy?” So I let him do it.
I had never felt a feeling like it in my life. It’s what I had been searching for all these years. It was my one true love. From that moment forward, all I ever wanted to do was heroin. For the next nine years, I went to treatment fourteen times. I knew how to be sober, and I also knew how to stay clean; I just chose not to. I went to my first AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting at seventeen. My biological dad took me. He told me it would save my life someday, and he was right. It eventually did.
I’ll save time by saying I moved around a lot. The faces were different, and the places were different. But the situation was always the same, I was the same, and the drugs were the same. The turning point was a whole year later. I found out I was pregnant in July or August of 2017. I was living in a recovery house, and I was working. I was honestly doing the damn thing and was getting my life together. Still, I made the dumb decision to hang out with that guy at the meetings people warned me about, and I ended up pregnant.
At first, I took Plan B and prayed, but I saw God had other plans when the test was positive. My soon-to-be daughter was my miracle. I had lost a previous pregnancy to my drug use, and I used again while pregnant this time. I was scared, and I wished I wouldn’t have the baby. I never wanted kids, to be honest. I called my mom, told her the situation, and she told me to live with her in Kentucky. I was in Oregon, struggling to get off heroin, ten weeks pregnant, and homeless with no one to help me. So I came back to Kentucky and got clean. I stayed clean the rest of my pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful, HEALTHY, perfect little girl. Despite my turnaround, I decided to get high again when I was nine weeks postpartum.
I used a $20 bag of what I thought was heroin. It turned out to be fentanyl. I overdosed in my car with my then-boyfriend, and my 9-week-old daughter was in the back seat. The first people to get to me used Narcan, which saved my life. Eventually, I came to with an air mask on my face and the cops holding my baby. Terror doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. I remember the cops asking me questions and believing that for sure I was going to jail. They kept telling me they weren’t arresting me; instead, I would get a fine and a court date. I asked the EMT who helped get ready to go in the back of the ambulance, “Could I kiss my baby goodbye?” He said, “If she mattered to you, you wouldn’t have done this.” My heart shattered, partially because he was right.
From the hospital, I went straight to The Healing Place, a long-term recovery facility in Louisville. While there, I found out some guy recorded my entire overdose, and it was a Facebook live post. It went viral. My whole family in Oregon saw it. The local news did a story on me, and I was disgusted with myself. I used that as motivation to stay in treatment and made it through the entire program. After all was said and done, I went to court and wasn’t a felon—no jail time. I gave custody of my daughter to my aunt while I worked on myself. I completed the program at The Healing Place in nine months, got a job, and moved into a halfway house. I met my husband and continued to work my ass off. I got an apartment and a newer car. At two years sober, I got custody of my daughter back. It was a long road, but it was so worth it though.
The reason why Narcan is so important because I am someone to someone. My mother would have buried her daughter. My dad would have buried his daughter. Most importantly, my daughter would have never known the wonderful person I am. She only would have known that I was a heroin addict and died a heroin addict. Today she knows me as a human being who is deserving of life an love just like anyone else. Had I died that day, the world would have lost a beautiful and talented soul.
My overdose was on June 13th, 2018, and my first day of sobriety was on June 14th, 2018. I have four years of sobriety.
My children have never seen me high or drunk. My kids have a good and loving mother. I have a job that values me. Now I’m back in college, chasing a degree in social work. I help others as much as possible and have a beautiful life today. I thank all those people who were there the day I almost died. I even thank that man who took that video because I couldn’t be at the top without hitting my rock bottom. If you think you can’t do it, you can. If you think you can figure out a different way to stop doing drugs or drinking, keep trying. I did, and eventually, I ended up in meetings with like-minded people, and it saved my life—one day at a time.
I’m so grateful I didn’t die an alcoholic death as my biological grandpa and dad did. That I didn’t die alone, it doesn’t have to be your story or mine. Narcan saved my life. Narcan saved my daughter’s mommy. Narcan saved my mom and dad’s daughter. Narcan saved my husband’s wife. Narcan saved my friend’s friend. Carry it. Use it. Who cares if they’ve been Narcanned a million times. One of those times could be the last, and they could stay sober. A life is always worth fighting for, no matter how horrifying it looks. My daughter’s guardian al litem, an attorney assigned to children, told me I was a monster. She hoped I never got custody of my daughter. Today I have had my daughter back for two years, and I have a baby, and neither of them knows me as a monster and never will.
Originally posted on From Bottomless to Sober. Shared with permission.