My name is Cassidy and I have recovered from addiction. Growing up, I was that girl who lived in a cookie-cutter suburban home, drove a BMW to school, played on the varsity basketball team, and made the honor roll each year. I am also the girl who, despite all the gifts I had in life, sought out refuge from my own mind through drugs and alcohol.
Heroin became my one and only love at the age of 19. I was in college on a full ride scholarship and had all of the material things that I could have ever asked for. The one thing that I didn’t have was inner peace.
The first time I used heroin, it was like that moment when I am driving on a busy highway and the wind is furiously rushing by as cars go flying past me. Suddenly, I drive through a dark tunnel lit up by fluorescent orange lights. Everything goes quiet. Everything is calm. The inside of the tunnel is peaceful. This is the feeling that heroin brought to me. This is the feeling that I continued to chase.
Unfortunately, for drug addicts like me, the chains of addiction are too weak to feel until they are too strong to be broken. My chase for peace of mind led me to the exact opposite-complete chaos and utter misery. I lost my scholarship and was kicked out of school. Due to my behaviors, I was unable to hold a job or a place to live. My family didn’t trust me and they were convinced that I would die from this disease. I was homeless, broken, and all alone. Eventually, the drugs quit working and I was so miserable that I tried to overdose. I woke up angrier than ever before. I wanted to die because I saw no other way out of the grips of addiction.
I finally reached out for help and went to a dual diagnosis treatment facility. I began to build relationships with other sober women who taught me that recovery from heroin is possible. These women loved me and supported me in my journey to recovery. They shared their experience with me so that I could learn from it. I was terrified of relapse, so I chased my sobriety with the same enthusiasm and desperation with which I chased my highs.
I started to incorporate healthy habits into my lifestyle. Two of these that I continue on a day to day basis are yoga and meditation. Yoga helped me by allowing me to stretch my muscles and relieve the tension in my body. In relieving this tension I was able to relax without drugs or alcohol for the first time. At the end of these yoga sessions, the instructor walks us through a guided meditation, where I am instructed to focus on deep breathing and allow my mind to become quiet. Through yoga and meditation, I was able to find peace.
When I first got sober I thought it was ridiculous when people would say that they had a life beyond their wildest dreams. Today, I honestly believe that is possible. When I was using, I didn’t want a life. I didn’t have dreams. Today I wake up every morning and look out my window to see the ocean waves washing up on the beach as I breathe in gratitude for a new beginning. I have the luxury of being able to start a new, sober life. I get to go back to school in the future and further my education. I work a job that I love where I get to spread awareness around the disease of addiction.
My family trusts me again today. My mother gets to rest peacefully at night, not living in fear that she will receive a phone call telling her that she has to bury her daughter. I have two beautiful nieces that never have to see their aunt nodding out at the dinner table after taking too many drugs. Those girls fill my heart with joy.
I have the honor of helping other women achieve sobriety today by being living evidence of hope and freedom. Watching others get sober is the bright spot of my life. There is nothing more fulfilling than watching the light come back on in another person’s eyes and seeing the color return to their skin. I get to do something that most people don’t; I get to watch people come back from the dead. I get to help people find the same freedom and peace that I have today.
Best of all, I get to live a life that is free from addiction. I can go wherever I want on this earth, do whatever I want to do, and I don’t have to depend on a mood or mind-altering substance to do it.