Suburban Survivor of the Opioid Epidemic Speaks Out in Alumni Success Story
There is a thief hiding in the shadows of today’s suburban lifestyles. It’s called addiction, and it is stealing the identities, families, careers, and lives of people who might otherwise appear to “have it all together.” This is my alumni success story.
You’ve heard the national clamor about opioid addiction. I lived its horrors, although my alumni success story didn’t start in the proverbial dark alley that is often associated with substance use. It began in my upscale suburban home in Champaign, IL and nearly ended one dark day as I lay lifeless on the floor following an overdose.
Fortunately, I’m on the upside of my addiction journey thanks to a supportive family and the right professional help. But that’s not the case for so many of those stigmatized by shame and guilt, and unwilling to step out of the shadows and own their story. That’s why I have become resolute in my mission to offer transparency and hope as a recovery advocate. In truth, I receive several hundred messages daily from substance users wanting to break the cycle of addiction, and most are living the same suburban drug dependence nightmare.
My addiction didn’t happen overnight; it started with a few “innocent pills.” From the outside, there was no reason to think something like this could happen to me or my family. We were the all-American picture—four beautiful children, an upper-class lifestyle and desirable careers.
Yet, no life is devoid of pain, and a family tragedy coupled with a move to a small town changed our family dynamics. As life stressors mounted, the undercurrents of existing—but untreated—anxiety and depression began to surface in my life. Neighbors noticed the change and tried to “help” by introducing me to such prescription drugs as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Percocet, and Oxycontin, which I took in combination with my own Zoloft prescription. We formed a gang of suburban pill-popping moms, maintaining a secret lifestyle for about two years, until my dependence spiraled out of control. Pretty soon, I moved on to heroin and cocaine, quit my job, left my family and became consumed with how I would get my next high.
Although I hit rock bottom, there was still hope. An introduction to Gateway Springfield and the support of a loving family kept me from becoming another statistic. Professional counselors – several with whom I’m still in contact today – taught me about my disease, helped me put it in remission and live in recovery.
Powerful group therapy sessions underscored the reality that I was not alone. Equally important, Gateway brought my husband and children into the broader care plan, equipping them with the resources and tools they needed to support me and claim their own victory through this struggle.
There is life after addiction. I want others to know that truth. It’s what motivates me to share my alumni success story over and over again. The first step is acknowledging you need help; the next step is getting the right help.
With several drug and alcohol rehab center locations in Illinois, Gateway has vast resources to help individuals overcome addiction. For more information about our substance abuse treatment programs, call Gateway today at 877.505.4673.