There were difficulties leaving Heroin behind, but nothing that compared to the victories of giving it up.
Heroin was my best friend, something I couldn’t live without, something that would replace anything or anyone in my life at any given time. Even though it tore my life apart limb from limb — had me lose friends, family, dignity and self respect — I still had to have it. Until I didn’t. I couldn’t imagine making the journey to recovery and sobriety when I was using Heroin. There were difficulties leaving Heroin behind, but nothing that compared to the victories of giving it up.
My story began when I was around thirteen years old and addicted to methamphetamines. My life had only begun and I found myself chained to a substance I couldn’t control. Combined with puberty, my meth use was completely destroying my life at home with my parents, the relationships with my best friends, and totally skewing my dreams, aspirations and priorities. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was addicted, or even that I had a “problem” with substances, even though I had to get so far out of myself to feel any sort of normalcy. From there, things went downhill; as I started to experiment with other substances, at around 18 years old, I finally found that the last piece to my puzzle were opiates, more specifically, Heroin.
At first, it was all I needed to have “fun,” that warm fuzzy feeling, the worries in my life dissipating, the ultimate high to bring me out of myself and be the person I thought I could be: happy, content, and in control. When I started using Heroin, I wouldn’t be able to tell how bad it could really get. Soon enough, I hated myself. I was socially anxious, had a low self worth and esteem, beat myself up about anything and everything. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore to the point that I removed all the mirrors in my apartment. Arrests, erratic behavior, cheating in relationships all became part of the “norm.”
Heroin was the one tool I had to combat the self-created symptoms of being an addict: loneliness, self loathing, depression, anxiety and extremely low self respect and esteem. Who would give up their one defense against feeling horrible day in and day out? Not me. I wasn’t even fully aware of all the deep-rooted issues I had until I came into recovery. I became a recluse. Being alone was the only way I knew I wasn’t harming anyone else in my life. The lying, deceit, and manipulation all came as repercussions of using drugs to survive. The times I had tried to stop on my own made me feel that I was much weaker that I had ever imagined. It was like trying to live without breathing. It was difficult, to say the least.
It can be very difficult to leave behind something that you’ve found comfort in all day, everyday. Medicine is used to treat symptoms of disease and sickness, and Heroin was what I used to treat my afflictions. Cold turkey only created more problems. Medication for this disease was all I could use to help my symptoms of withdrawal. Suboxone was a way out for me. As soon as I got an addiction specialist who prescribed me the medication and sought out therapists for my deep-seated issues, I was on a stable path to recovery. Or so I thought. Soon after, I stopped going to my therapist, and stopped taking Suboxone because I started feeling better. I thought I had beat the addiction and was fully recovered. Like all medications for diseases, we need to take them consistently and appropriately, something I was not doing. Soon enough I landed myself into an inpatient rehabilitation center and finally got sober.
Although, quitting Heroin was as difficult as it could possibly get for me, the victories were well worth the struggle. I’ve gained my life back, slowly but surely. Becoming human again, with aspirations, dreams and priorities meant something. I was reborn. How victorious it is to put down the syringe and to say ‘yes’ to life instead of hiding away. I had to re-learn how to make friends, look people in the eye, apply for a job, have personal relationships, have responsibilities, everything from square one! To know that a little over 25 months ago, I was a shell of a human being, a wasted space, a slave to a white powdery substance compared to what I am now: beautiful, positive, spiritual, and sober. This evolution is what keeps me going in my recovery. I have to admit, for how bad it got in my active addiction, the victories over it are something special and something I will work hard towards every day of my life. Without those difficulties, the victories wouldn’t feel as good.
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As Workit Health’s Intake Coordinator, Corissa Lappin is passionate about helping others bridge the gap between addiction and long-term recovery, as she did herself. She has a BA in Psychology from SFSU, and has previously worked in the recovery field as a medical assistant and clinician supervising those on methadone and buprenorphine.