My name is Iris and I am an addict in recovery. To say the least, I came from a family of chaos, violence, abuse and insanity. I was the oldest of four children. The only stable influence in my life was my grandmother and she the best she could to protect me; God bless her. Mom was an alcoholic and an addict who suffered from undiagnosed mental health problems. My parents’ relationship was violent and unpredictable. Physical violence was the norm. At the age of seven, I assumed the household role of mother and became the caretaker of my siblings. Cooking, cleaning and the daily care of my brothers’ became my responsibility. There were a lot of men in my mother’s life and she insisted on all occasions that we referred to them as “dad”. One of these men took it upon himself to violate me at a very early age. I shut down emotionally; I had to. Life was too painful to endure. It was around the age of eight I discovered that taking some of mom’s pills made me feel better. At nine I discovered heroin. This did the trick. I could exist in this turmoil known as home and survive. I was a good student growing up and I enjoyed school. It was a stable environment with adults that seemed to care. At sixteen I was introduced to “freebasing” cocaine; however, I still felt heroin was my first love. Shortly thereafter I got pregnant and moved in with the father of my son. At nineteen I got arrested for the first time on drug charges and spent three years at Muncy State Prison. I left prison pregnant with my daughter and moved in with my grandmother. My drug use continued; snorting coke and heroin at every opportunity. Eventually, my grandmother asked to leave her home. I cannot fault her. The insanity that I brought to her home was intense. I entered the methadone program in hopes that I could overcome my heroin addiction but I refused to change. I hung out at the same places, with the same people, and started doing the same things they did. Eventually, I was back to daily heroin use. In 1997, I entered rehab for three months. I left rehab clean, however, my state of mental health did not change. My ego, sense of grandiosity and lack of humility took me back into addiction. In 2015 I experienced a series of five strokes in rapid succession. Even with all my health problems my desire to use did not subside. Soon I found myself back in jail. I was tired and now I knew I needed to change. I had heard of a place in Berks County called Easy Does It. I knew very little about this place but I knew it was a facility that helped alcoholics and addicts. In April of 2015, I made my way to Easy Does It and I have been clean since.
At Easy Does It I finally learned and began to listen. I did not always like what I heard about myself; however, I knew in my heart that those telling what I did not like hearing loved and cared about me. I am like many addicts, I can be thick headed. But I know that if I do what I am being taught to do I can recover. I do not ever want to go back to where I was. I am relatively early in this process of recovery but I really believe it can work for me and I can have the life I have always wanted.
If you are reading this story and struggling with addiction let me assure you there is a better way of living. Now is the time to reach out and ask for help. There are too many alcoholics and addicts suffering and dying needlessly. There is freedom from the bondage of addiction and the thing I have learned is that without recovery things are only going to get worse. It doesn’t have to be that way.
– Iris G.