Recovery isn’t a single incidence — sometimes it takes several tries before it sticks. One
minute, you find yourself at the triumphant end, and the next, you are three steps back, fighting
your way back again. Addiction is like going on a scavenger hunt. Just when you think you’ve
found the last piece of the puzzle, a surprise snare sends you spiraling in a different direction.
We spoke with two recovering addicts about their journey to beat their addiction — no matter
how many times it took them.
For Dean, his journey began after a family move from Israel to California. Trying to fit in with
those around him, he started drinking and smoking marijuana.
“My friends started taking Roxycontin, Oxycontin. I remember the very first time that I tried it. I
wish I could go back to that first day and tell myself what was going to happen to me if I took
that pill,” Dean said.
After six months spent using opiates and heroin, Dean sought out treatment, but this wouldn’t
be his last time.
“At that time, I really didn’t believe I was an addict. I relapsed pretty quickly after that
experience,” Dean said. “My second time in rehab was a three-month inpatient rehab. It was
really intense. I had almost two years of sobriety after that: I was following the steps and had a
sponsor — but I didn’t follow through.”
After a year and a half of sobriety, Dean fell off the wagon again, turning to alcohol and
“I started telling myself, ‘I’m not a real addict. I can beat this,’” Dean said.
It wasn’t until Dean found himself living in his car that he knew he needed help, and entering a
new rehab facility — one that wouldn’t let him make excuses anymore — helped him put an end
to the constant back and forth.
According to Dean, the key to success is to really and truly want it.
“I want to stay on track. You have to do it for yourself — no one else can do it for you. I don’t
know how to explain it,” Dean said. “I don’t want to be hopeless. I don’t ever want to be in thatposition again. I will do whatever it takes to be above the grave I dug.”
“As someone who struggled with addiction, I can certainly relate to being in a dark place, looking for a way out. Also, as someone who works helping those suffering, I can attest to the power of an outreached hand and the words 'no shame.” - David, Recovery Survivor and Advocate
Like Dean, the road to recovery for Kelli was long and repetitive beginning in high school, due to
the desire to be like everyone else as well as cope with her personality disorder. Working at a
pharmacy, Kelli stole a single Lortab to see what all the hype was about.
“When I took that Lortab… It was the first time I felt like I could smile. It was the first time I didn’t
hurt. It was the first time I felt like there wasn’t a gaping hole inside of me anymore. It was the
first time I really felt normal,” Kelli said.
Before she knew it, Kelli’s single stolen Lortab turned into thousands. She realized she had a
problem, but the price tag was too high and telling her parents was out of the question.
“So I tried to stop on my own. I got really, really sick from the withdrawals. I loved those pills, but
I hated them. I really had no ideas about addiction or what to do. I thought that the only way out
of it was to die,” Kelli said.
She attempted an overdose, but found herself in the ICU. Her parents stepped in, taking her to
a treatment facility, but less than a week after treatment, she was taking pills again.
“I spent nine years in that cycle of [being] in and out of institutions and treatment centers,” Kelli
said. “I went to 22 facilities during that time.”
Through a rehab center that specialized in co-occurring disorders, Kelli finally found the right
treatment plan. Kelli agrees with Dean that the pain she felt is what keeps her from going back,
and she is choosing to live a life that is happy and pain-free.
“I can do this today because I don’t ever want to hurt and feel the agony like I did before. I know
at this point, I don’t have to feel the way I did before. It’s my choice,” Kelli said.
Every person’s journey is unique, just like you. Addiction is hard, and finding the strength and
courage to put a stop to the control it has over your life might seem impossible — but it isn’t.
Like Dean and Kelli, you have the power to say no. You might have to try, try again, but the
reward is worth the effort.
This post was written by guest writer, Constance Ray