It’s strange how addiction slowly takes over your life. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia eight years ago and my doctors prescribed powerful medications like demerol and percocet to help me manage the pain. For those of you not familiar, fibromyalgia is a disorder marked by long-term muscle and tissue pain. It left me waking up every day feeling like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat.
At first, the prescription drug made a world of difference with the muscle pain. As a single mom, I didn’t have time to be in pain all the time; I had a family to raise. Then, slowly, I started to want the pills even when I wasn’t in pain. I tried to rationalize with myself. The drugs were prescribed to me by doctors, so I thought they were alright, regardless of my lack of symptoms.
Things started falling apart and I checked out of my life. I just wanted to hide behind the medication. When I was in my addiction, I felt like there was a heavy veil over my face; I couldn’t see anything beyond the percoset and demerol. I started making excuses for my behavior and my life became unmanageable.
I came to Arapahoe House’s New Directions for Families rehabilitation program in Littleton on my own accord after an overdose. I didn’t know what treatment was at the time, but I knew I was going to do whatever it took to give my kids their mom back.
I spent four months at New Directions with my children. In treatment, I was a sponge; I soaked up all the therapy I could get. I wanted to be prepared to deal with my addiction when I wasn’t in a safe environment like the one at New Directions.
Even though I wanted to change, I didn’t see how it was possible to manage the pain of fibromyalgia without prescription medication. One of the most valuable things I learned at New Directions was yoga nidra (deep relaxation and meditation). It was so effective; I still practice it at home everyday and probably will for the rest of my life. My primary counselor also gave me valuable education on overcoming addiction. She taught me that recovery is a process, not an event. It is something I will fight for everyday. She taught me how to shift my focus away from using, how to communicate effectively, and how to heal from the trauma I experienced in my childhood.
The family therapy was crucial for us. The counselors helped us become more aware of the effects of trauma and learn how we could work through it.
The Learning Center at New Directions also offered a positive experience for my younger children. It was a place of hope and happiness for them after enduring some really tough times. Even today, I can tell that the education they received still resonates. It is especially evident in their improved social skills. They are excited to go to school and learn. Their teachers tell me how respectful they are of other children. They are great at sharing and listening.
Now that I’m an alumni of New Directions, I give back to the program that gave me my life back. I visit regularly to talk to women on their first day of treatment; I tell them what to expect. Then, I visit with the same women at their graduation and discuss the challenges they may face in their new life.
My kids deserve the best and I’m reminded of that everyday. It’s fun to be a mom these days; I’m not strung out on pills anymore. I can clearly see what’s important – like that heavy veil has been lifted from my face. I was, and still am, in legitimate pain. But, I have new, healthier ways of practicing pain management. I’m willing and eager to make tomorrow a better day.
Life on the other side of addiction is so beautiful; there is so much happiness. New Directions is the best thing that ever happened to me. I really think I’d be dead if it weren’t for Arapahoe House. A lot of us who have a severe addiction have been through childhood trauma. It’s easy to make excuses and to abuse drugs or drink your problems away. But, I’m here to tell you – no matter what you have endured, no matter what you’ve gone though, there is always hope to change your story.