From my experience in treatment with Arapahoe House, I’ve noticed that many stories of drug addictions start with a broken home. I’m lucky, my story is different.
I come from a great family. My parents were married for 25 years. They loved each other very much and made sure we had everything we needed growing up in Pueblo. My three older brothers and I had a great childhood.
Everything changed when my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I was 13 years old. Mom was the backbone of our family and when she got sick, we all shut down. What was even more harmful is that we didn’t talk about her sickness and how scared we were. No one gave me a hug and told me it was going to be ok. This is where my addiction story starts.
My mom was always in so much pain, and I couldn’t handle it. I started hanging out with an older crowd at school and was introduced to meth. My parents got wind of what was going on and sent me to New York to live with my dad’s side of the family. My cousins told me what the drug meth was made of and that actually affected me so much that I quit. I cleaned up and was sent back to my family in Pueblo.
When I was 15, my mom died of cancer. My two bothers went to Denver to start new lives and I stayed in Pueblo to take care of my dad. He was a Vietnam vet, and an alcoholic. He fell apart when mom died. Someone had to be the adult. I had to take care of bills, make sure dad was getting his VA checks and that he didn’t drink too much.
I grew up fast and was angry that I didn’t get to be young anymore. At this point, I still couldn’t talk about my mom’s death and how much pain I felt. I picked up drinking and starting doing cocaine to ease my suffering. It seems like you make one bad choice and things start to get out of control. I didn’t know that my choices would affect the rest of my life.
I got pregnant when I as 16. I continued in school and worked full time. Dad sobered up and helped me raise my daughter.
At age 19, I wanted more. I wanted to leave Pueblo and get a better life for all three of us. I went to Denver for two weeks with my daughter to see about work and when I came home, my dad had passed away. My grief was now immeasurable. I turned to drugs again to deal with the pain.
Fast forward through years of drug abuse and three more kids. I hit rock bottom when I lost my children. I remember looking around my house, it was completely empty -- no family, no furniture, nothing but a TV on the floor. I knew this wasn’t the life my mom would want for me. I turned to Arapahoe House for help.
I called and told them I wanted full time treatment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was also pregnant again. They got me into Aspen Center, a program for women who are expecting. During my time at Aspen Center, I could finally let my grief out. I talked to counselors like I had never talked to anyone before. I started to heal and got the support I needed; I learned how to live a life in recovery. I realized I couldn’t let addiction destroy my life any longer. After my time at Aspen Center, Arapahoe House got me into another program, Special Connections, where I got continuing care and case management.
Arapahoe House is one of best things that has ever happened to me. I used to feel so alone. I still take it one day at a time, but now I have a home that is filled with furniture, my kid’s artwork on the walls and their laughter that fills each room. I’m in community college and I’d like to be a terminal illness counselor. I’m getting help to make sure I have employment after I have my son. I feel strong and I know that my mother is proud of me.