Opioid and heroin addiction strikes everyone, no discrimination. Many stories are about men who have overcome their addiction, but there are countless women in recovery and helping people overcome their disease. Our first “Women in Recovery” piece spotlights a member of the Infinite Recovery family and a woman in long-term recovery, Gabi.
“I had a great childhood. My parents provided everything for my siblings and I growing up, I was always close to my older sister and younger brother, and was really blessed. My mom is French and my dad is Brazilian, so my parents made sure we all experienced different cultures. We traveled to France and Brazil throughout our childhood, and when our parents moved from California to Texas, they picked a city based on the education. They really cared, they’re good parents. I had hobbies – art, music, every program we expressed interest in. My sister was into ballet, my brother was into music, but I hopped around and tried everything.
My older sister started partying early in high school, and I was curious. I want to make sure to say this because I think it’s important: I never felt ‘different’ or ‘uncomfortable,’ I tried drinking because it looked fun. I wasn’t trying to numb anything; it was purely curiosity. In the beginning, I drank with my sister and her friends so it felt safe. But as we got older, I branched out and tried different things, eventually leading to opioids.
My sister always told me, ‘never do heroin,’ because her friends had died from heroin. But not mine – we were taking prescriptions and I became obsessed with heroin. It was the ‘forbidden fruit,’ I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain and I wanted to live the fantasy. I sought after heroin culture, and sought out a friend who publicly used heroin. I started doing heroin, and found an older boyfriend that dealt. I lied to this boyfriend that I had shot up, and saw this person as an opportunity to fuel my addiction.
I started showing signs of addiction before I graduated high school. My brother became very ill and started receiving prescriptions, so I would take his in between heroin shots. I got arrested at 17 because I had his pills on me with no prescription, and that’s when the cat was out of the bag. They didn’t know the extent, but they knew I was using. No one asked too many questions because my brother was so ill that they assumed I was trying to deal with that, but I kept using more and more heroin. I understand the opioid epidemic because I am a product of it – suburban kids in good neighborhoods with access to extremely potent pain pills that eventually graduate to heroin. That’s my story, and so many others.
As soon as I was arrested, the glamour went away. I began getting dope sick, I couldn’t be present for my brother or family, I retreated. All the while, my family wasn’t aware I was shooting heroin. It didn’t look too reckless because I continued to hide it. I went to treatment for the first time at 18, moved to Colorado and tried ‘starting over.’ I enrolled in school, but I couldn’t escape the opioids. I couldn’t stop using – it had progressed. I started doing typical ‘drug addict activities’ to support my addiction, and really felt the loneliness and despair of my life. Literally everything that could have gone wrong, was currently going wrong, in all areas of my life.
I returned to Texas with my tail between my legs, no college credit to show for my first year of school, and an overpowering heroin addiction. I went to seven treatment centers from 19 – 20: I would check in, discharge, relapse days after leaving, go into psychotic episodes, and find a way back into treatment. I couldn’t escape the cycle. I had been exposed to recovery, but never did the work it takes to fully recover. I understood the ‘surface level’ facts of addiction, but not the deeper meaning.
Consequences kept happening. Jails, overdoses, getting kicked out of sober homes, homelessness, lying, stealing – par for the course. The last time I went to treatment, I really wanted to stop but knew I was doomed. This was treatment #12, I was scholarshipped, and felt like there was no hope of ever getting sober. I checked in and told them, ‘I don’t want to use but I know I will again. I don’t have a choice anymore.’ It was at that last facility that I truly surrendered. I began doing the work and finding freedom from the obsession to use. I started to dig deeper, see the error in my ways, begin taking accountability for my actions, and looking for new ways to contribute rather than take. Everything about me began to change. I started talking differently, I carried myself differently, I felt like I could finally listen when people spoke – it was surreal.
Since then, my life has completely changed. I followed directions precisely in treatment which helped create a foundation for the real world. I was in fear that I could use again at any given moment, but it was a healthy fear. It helped me at first, and established a sense of the situation. I did whatever was recommended to me because I never wanted to feel that way again. Of course, it hasn’t been easy all the way – things have happened that have been incredibly difficult, but those experiences have become useful so I can share my solution with others. Those experiences helped me grow even closer to God. I can’t express how truly appreciative I am to the people who helped me, my family, and my recovery family – my entire life has changed in so many ways and it blows me away how powerful God’s love is. I never thought I could feel this fulfilled, and today I lead a life of serenity and peace.”
– Gabi, Recovery Specialist at Infinite Recovery and person in long-term recovery
We here at Infinite Recovery are closely monitoring the opioid epidemic and are here to help. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction or heroin addiction, get help now. We offer a confidential hotline at (844) 206-9063 and our admissions team is available 24/7 online.