MAT Gave Me My Second Chance
Nov 1, 2022
How did this happen?
It’s been five years and I sometimes still find myself asking myself this question. I have great parents, great family, I went to great schools – so how did I end up with an addiction?
When I think back to the beginning, it’s hard to narrow it down. It probably started like most addictions– drinking with friends and my older brother. My drinking never affected my personal life: I was a straight A student, captain of sport teams, and living a happy life. That’s one of many reasons why I try to share my recovery journey. I didn’t have the stigmatized face of addiction. I was very high functioning and continued that way for a long time – until my parents moved to London and my brother moved away.
Suddenly, I was alone in college. That’s when my drinking went from socially to anytime, anywhere, anything. I loved the person alcohol made me be. I was confident – and why wouldn’t I be? I was drinking to fill a void and it was filling it. But of course, it’s only temporary. When the alcohol wears off, the void is still there.
My addiction strengthened to opioids when I started a long-term relationship with a man who had them readily available; we got married and continued as functioning addicts for years, but in the background, things were slowly unraveling. We lied. We stole. We stopped paying bills and doing the things we love. When I think back on this time, I still cringe at my behaviors and what I did. I’ve worked really hard to forgive myself.
It became a life of utter misery. At a certain point, you’re simply using just to not be sick – and I was at that point. I was constantly lying, and it was an exhaustion I felt in my bones. No one knew what was going on, and that took a lot of time and energy. Every day, the fear nearly consumed me. What would it look like when they all found out? Was everyone going to hate me? Would they turn their back on me? Would my shame devour me?
And then it all came crashing down.
My parents came to our house and confronted me and my husband. A close, beloved family friend opened their eyes to what was really going on with me. It’s as clear as day, he said. How don’t you notice? My parents were blindsided. Surely not our daughter? Suddenly, the veil was lifted, and they started seeing little things here and there.
When they offered to send us to treatment separately, I jumped at the chance. We both did.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get it right the first time. I still thought I knew how to fix my own addiction; but I didn’t. It wasn’t until I found medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that I knew I was ready – and that I could do this.
With the help of methadone, I started focusing on one thing: My recovery. My husband didn’t fit into that anymore; he was continuing down a path much different than mine. Our addictions were so intertwined I knew I couldn’t stay clean and stay married to this man. So, I stepped away, and I started listening. I stopped thinking I knew what was best for recovery and started listening to others – people in recovery, other patients, medical professionals. I started accepting that my sick brain couldn’t heal me – I had to let others show me the way.
Slowly but surely, I rebuilt my life. I went to meetings at least once, but sometimes twice, a day. I cured relationships I thought were gone for good. My family also sought treatment. Addiction isn’t a disease you fight alone – your family and loved ones suffer with you. They learned to cope and learned how to encourage me, thanks to support groups. We all needed to get well, and we did.
Today, I’m joyfully married to the best husband I could ask for with two children, the support of our families and a life based in recovery – I now have all the things I used to pray for. I have a lot of gratitude and awareness. One thing I constantly tell my patients: Recovery isn’t about never having problems again. It’s about learning how to deal with life, the good and the bad. Now, instead of waking up to hearing the birds singing, knowing I will have to make it through another day in addiction, I embrace it. I welcome it. I look forward to it.
Unfortunately, my ex-husband passed away from an overdose. I had a mix of emotions with this, including survivor’s guilt. Why him and not me? But my recovery armed me with the tools I needed to work through this. I didn’t turn to drugs; I turned to my support group, my spiritual and mental practices that helped me through my addiction. I am forever grateful for those who gave me these tools. I am forever looking to give back what has been given to me.