Updated: May 16
My name is Julie and I am a recovering drug addict. This year I will have 9 years clean from opiates. I started using drugs in high school, when I got my wisdom teeth out and had my first experience with pain medication. I let it consume me, I wanted more until I wasn’t able to stop.
The first couple of times of trying to get clean I was being forced by law enforcement and the court system, I really was not ready to get sober. I went through the emotions until I pleased the courts to get off of probation, then went back to using pain medication and other street drugs. I went through the drug court system two times, went through probation terms a number of times, and completed outpatient therapy a number of times. I was in and out of jail but none of that worked, until I let it work.
After all of the unsuccessful attempts of trying to get clean, I did not finally get clean until I actually wanted to. I think that is what every addict needs to know. An addict can get all the help in the world but it will not help unless they want it to help.
Being sober was new to me at first, and actually wanting to stay sober was a relief. I finally made the change. It was time to start my life, I decided to go back to school. I was still attending outpatient treatment when I started training to be a CNA. I learned that I loved school, and made the decision to start prerequisites for the nursing program. I excelled going back to college and was at the top of all my classes. Eventually I was accepted into the nursing program at USU Eastern. In 2018 I graduated at the top of my class with an Associates Degree in Nursing and an Associates degree in Science. I am currently attending classes to complete my Bachelors degree in Nursing.
Getting clean made me learn to live life and not to be scared to do things in your life to make you happy. I learned that I like to run 5k’s and 10k’s, which I have completed multiple running events and want to start training for a triathlon. I learned that I love to do hair and makeup. I eventually want to attend cosmetology school so I can turn a hobby into a side career.
I think the perception of recovery is changing as I am seeing more and more people in active recovery with successful careers. After graduating with a nursing degree, I realized I had to go through the division of professional licensing to obtain a licence. I was scared to tell the board of nursing about my previous felony drug charges. I had to jump through many more hoops to obtain a nursing license because of that. It was so discouraging and I wanted to give up so many times. It was very uncomfortable talking about my past to the nursing board, a room full of strangers who have the power to my career that I had worked so hard for.
I believe every addict needs to find something they are passionate about, run with it and do not stop. Changing lifestyles is hard and uncomfortable, especially difficult for an addict, but it is achievable.
Wise words given to me while I was in treatment, I cannot promise that I will never use drugs again, because I do not know, but I can promise I am going to do everything in the world to use drugs.