I was adopted by a family that battled alcohol, substance use, and mental health issues. At age 7, I began to misuse the prescription medication given to me. I can remember sneaking downstairs and making up stories to take more.
I ran away when I was 14 and had my first child at 15, and soon after, gave her up for adoption. I spent almost 35 years of my life living with addiction and alcohol issues, managing to get married twice and have two more children. Most, if not all, of my relationships ended in violence and chaos.
By my late 30s, I started going to jail. This is where I was introduced to the Broward County Drug Court System and Judge Marcia Beach. While she could never force me to get clean and sober, she did love me until I could love myself. I learned to take those first steps that I needed to come into a life of recovery.
After exiting the drug court program, I sought out every program in the county so I could stay on the right path. I joined a 12-step fellowship, listened and took suggestions, got and stayed involved.
I spent the next 2 years trying to build a new life, but soon faced the judgments that surround the recovery community. When I needed a second part-time job and was turned away from delivering pizzas because of my arrests stemming directly from addiction, I had enough.
Step by step, day by day, I got better and carried my story on my sleeve, and the misconceptions faded away. Now almost 6 years into sobriety, I fight for all recovering families and will continue to do so until my very last breath.
In recovery, I found my birth family. My birth mother and seven siblings, as well as the daughter I gave up for adoption, are all in my life. At age 45, I am a person living a life of long-term recovery. I am no longer a liability to my community, I am an asset.