Marissa’s Story

I’m Marissa, and I’m an addict. My clean date is April 5, 2017. I was a four year IV user and my drug of choice is Heroin. When I was a newcomer it really helped me to hear other people share their stories, so for my celebration, I’ll be sharing my story.

Let’s start from the beginning.

I had an okay childhood filled with some rough patches. I was abandoned by my stepfather at the age of eight. I was abandoned by my father from three months old to the age of 10 and then again at 15, for good. When I told my father I was gay he called me a faggot and then disowned me. I also was molested at age 10 by a friend’s brother. My mom took me to the police to write an incident report and we were told no charges could be filed because he was under the age of 10 and therefore not responsible for his actions. She also took me to therapist after therapist as a kid but I always refused to talk to any of them.

I started experimenting with pot when I was fifteen. I smoked for about two years. At 17 I moved out, and I started to experiment with pills. I graduated high school. After high school, I fell in love with a girl. After we had started dating for a while, she had started using heroin. She had hidden it from me for a couple weeks until I caught her using in the bathroom. At first, I wanted nothing to do with it, but after a while, I became very curious. I sniffed it for about a month until I became an IV user. My first OD I was down for 20 minutes according to EMS, Fire Depts., and State Police. After that overdose, I was starting to tic. I ODed a few more times after that. I didn’t just fall in love with the drug, but I also became obsessed with the process. The getting and the using, I love Philadelphia and loved walking on the block. I loved the city and all the people in it. I then became obsessed with the process of using. We hopped from motel to motel with a couple of girls that at the time I was pimping out and selling drugs in, including my, at the time fiancé, same girlfriend. By the age of 20, I was injecting about 2 bundles a day and also feeding everyone else’s habits. By that time I was deep in the game, I’ve had guns shot at me, held to my head, and I have been pistol whipped. I’ve been stabbed and left to sit in an empty lot. I have also been the one shooting the guns and robbing people in Philly. I went to rehab at Keystone and was using two weeks after I was discharged. I used for two more months and couldn’t do it anymore; I went to Bowling Green Brandywine and absolutely loved it. At BGB, I was diagnosed with Drug-Induced Tourette Syndrome, which explained all of my random tics and noises. I completed the program and was clean for about 90 days, staying with a friend at the time.

At 21, I got back together with my fiancé at the time. She was tricking and set me up and listened from the bathroom as I got raped, I decided to try rehab again. At that point I was eating out of dumpsters, washing up in the McDonalds bathroom, and working on the block so I wasn’t sick every day.

I got kicked out of Hillside after 55 days for having a lighter and being in a “relationship.” Believe it or not, BGB and Hillside were my two favorite rehabs and I learned a lot about myself at each one. Everyone told me I was going to relapse and die. Everyone told me I wouldn’t make it. Everyone told me to write my obituary now. I wasn’t allowed to go back to my mom’s house, so I had the option of a homeless shelter or a friend’s house. I went to live in Pottstown with a girl who was my best friend and someone I used to use with.

Pottstown used to be my old stomping grounds, I was extremely nervous. I went to get into IOP and couldn’t get into Creative Health. So there I sat for months just helping around the house and helping out with a t-shirt business. I often ran into my old dealers on my way to meetings. After four months out of rehab, I was doing fairly well except for the fact that I was getting distance with the friend I was living with. She would go out for hours and come back when I was sleeping but I didn’t think anything of it… about three weeks later my friend’s mom found my best friend unresponsive on the toilet in our bathroom. She started screaming my name. I will never forget the screams I heard on that night. I ran into the bathroom and there she was just grey in the face and drooling. I slapped her a couple of times and was screaming her name, nothing. I called 911 and they told me to put her on the ground and start to perform CPR. As I began to put her on the ground, she woke up. The police and ambulance were already on their way. She was screaming at me. She was mad that I called 911. After she got to the ER, she kept texting me to bring her needles that were in our room. I couldn’t do it and she was so f***pissed off at me for that. I didn’t know where to go so I stayed at a friend’s house for a few days until I had everything sorted out. I got back in touch with my mom and she told me that I could come home on a few conditions, I had to go back to IOP but at Penn Foundation, and I had to work at my family business so I was occupied.

At Penn Foundation, I was blessed with the BEST counselor there. I worked on my triggers, what I can do when it comes to my tics, and was in group therapy. I learned how to reach out to family and friends when I was in distress; I worked with CBT, improved my coping skills and was held accountable with random drug tests. I was happy to take them too because I knew that I had nothing to hide. Jonquil was the best therapist I have ever had, and she was the only therapist that I ever opened up to. We have a great relationship and I trust her, which is key when it comes to therapy. Even though she says things that I don’t always want to hear, I know that she always has me in her best interest.

I am a 16-time overdose survivor and have realized that my higher power has kept me here for a reason. I have completed IOP after six months of treatment and I am now working at my family business. I am beyond grateful for my friends and my family. I am in a very good place in my recovery filled with so much love and support, it’s unbelievable. I’m beyond grateful for my home group, sponsor, the program of Narcotics Anonymous and the twelve steps. I am beyond grateful that I can be the older sibling that my brother and sister can look up to and that I am present in their lives. I truly wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for all the struggle I’ve been through, my struggle has made me a stronger person. NA is a WE program and I wouldn’t have made it without all of my NA family. One day at a time.

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