For years, I hid my addiction to prescription pills.
In fact, I didn’t even want to call it an addiction. If I called it an addiction, then that meant I had to quit and I wasn’t ready to do that. There’s a part of me that wishes I would have asked for help earlier than I did. But, there is also a part of me that knows every experience I went through was part of a perfect, divine plan that led me to become the woman I am today.
Today, I am three years sober.
February 9th, 2014 is the last day I snorted Adderall and Xanax off a cracked pink mirror that I took everywhere with me. I wasn’t supposed to become addicted to prescription pills. Addiction was never supposed to be part of my story. I knew the dangers of illicit drugs and I even knew that I had to be careful with alcohol, as my family had a history of alcoholism. I did not prepare myself for the consequences and the subtle way misuse can turn into abuse, which can then turn into a full blown addiction.
On the outside, I looked perfect.
I had an MBA, a high level job in entertainment, a corner office, a Mercedes, an apartment by the beach, and a fiancé that was graduating from law school shortly. I was the picture perfect image of success. And I defined my happiness by how successful I was. I was overly concerned with my title, my status, the amount of money I made, and how I looked in the eyes of my family and friends. I didn’t realize or know that happiness was built internally. I didn’t know that happiness truly was, an inside job.
My happiness was built around my identity and tied to things that could eventually fail, to circumstances that could change, and to positions I could lose. I could lose my job. My relationship could end. I wouldn’t be able to afford my Mercedes or the expensive apartment by the beach. And eventually, my circumstances did change, as change is the only constant in life. When this happened, when I lost my relationship and my job, I lost my identity. I lost myself.
In February of 2010, I called my psychiatrist after an important job opportunity fell through. The call was short and went something like this:
Me: “Hi. I want to die. I don’t know what to do.” Him: “I have the answer. I’ll make a call to the pharmacy and you can pick it up tomorrow.”
When I arrived at the pharmacy the next day, I discovered I had been prescribed Adderall. I didn’t know much about this drug at the time. I knew it was an amphetamine and I knew that it was used to treat ADHD, a disorder I did not have. I felt I had been prescribed Adderall because of situational depression and suicidal ideation.
However, my psychiatrist was right.
The Adderall did relieve my feelings of depression. It also led me into a four-year addiction in which I lost most every important relationship in my life, and nearly died. I didn’t start off misusing the Adderall. In fact, I took less than prescribed because my body was not used to holding such a high degree of amphetamine salts. However, over time, I built a tolerance to Adderall and I had to take more to achieve the same result.
There are many doctors who do not warn us about the dangers of prescription pill misuse and abuse. They don’t warn us that the drugs they are prescribing can be highly addictive. They do not tell us that the number of people using prescription pills for non-medical reasons is growing at an alarming rate.
I am one of the many people who would never have suspected that the drug my doctor was prescribing to me would one day cause me to be become addicted. However, I am also, one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have overcome my addiction. Today, I tell my story, without shame.
Brene Brown says: “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” In owning my story, my worthiness, and the experiences in my life, bad or good – I have become the woman I am today. And today, I am proud to be me.