Brenda experimented with a wide variety of drugs during her high school years.
When I was younger, high school years…15 through maybe 25…I experimented with a lot of drugs. I wouldn’t say I particularly was physically addicted to anything at that point of my life…But I would try just about anything that was placed in front of me at that time. So I smoked marijuana and, you know, snorted cocaine, did LSD, did all these drugs, pills, anything that was placed in front of me. I would try it but did not become physically addicted to one particular substance…I guess what you would call partying all the time. And then, you know, as an adult at the age, I got pregnant at 26. So, I kinda cut all that stuff out due to the pregnancy and having the child.
After childbirth, Brenda develops a prescription drug addiction.
Three weeks after my child was born, when I was 26 years old, my husband was injured in a car accident and he was a quadriplegic.
When I got to the hospital, I was completely hysterical for good reason. One of the nurses back in the day…things weren’t as protected as they are now…went to somebody’s med cart and pulled a ten milligram valium out of the cart and gave it to me as a little blister pack. And I thought to myself at that time, “What good is this gonna do?” I unzipped my wallet, dropped it in change. I carried that valium around for two years…dealt with this whole quadriplegic thing, a young child, tough woman. We’re going to do this. Taking care of my husband…taking care of my kid…taking care of everybody…but not taking care of Brenda.
So that’s kinda where my addiction started…is not taking care of Brenda. I started to suffer some physical headaches and was prescribed narcotic painkillers for these headaches. I found out very quickly that they helped me cope with the issues that I had in front of me. So, I started taking more of them than what’s prescribed and I’m also a medical professional. The physician that was prescribing them to me became aware that I was not taking them as they were prescribed. So, she cut me off. But because I had access to other things, I started writing my own ticket and getting my own drugs that way. So, then my addiction just took off after that.
So that’s kinda where my addiction started…is not taking care of Brenda.
Despite a 40-pill-per-day habit, Brenda manages to hide her addiction.
Believe it or not, they weren’t aware. I was a very functioning 40-pill-a-day addict. Yeah, it’s crazy. You build up a tolerance. So basically, I was using that to not get sick because you would go into withdrawal if you didn’t…if you use your opiates. Basically, I was using not to get sick. I was working in the medical profession. I was basically superwoman.
I had tried to kill myself in September of 2001, because I thought it was the only way out for me. At that time, I didn’t get honest about anything. I didn’t tell anybody. When I ended up at the psychiatric hospital, I still didn’t tell anybody why. Everybody assumed, oh, you know, her husband is a quadriplegic. She’s under all this pressure.
At that time, my Mom said that she knew something was wrong but didn’t know what. No one would have ever suspected me as being a drug addict.
Brenda’s addiction exploits finally catch up to her.
I knew I needed help long before I asked for it. Because I was so afraid of the consequences, I wouldn’t ask. So, it took divine intervention for me in the form of getting caught forging prescriptions.
I got a phone call from the Board of Nursing and they had asked me point blank if I knew anything about these prescriptions that were being written…and would I please come in and meet with them. I was so completely mortified in one way. But in another way, I was kinda relieved that this was finally going to a head for me because I was living in such misery. I had developed about a 40-pill-a-day habit. I was juggling a lot of pharmacies and it was just a miserable way to live.
I got a phone call from the Board of Nursing and they had asked me point blank if I knew anything about these prescriptions that were being written…
Through her recovery Brenda becomes empowered with a desire to help others.
Recovery has given me the ability to cope with life again…without the use of substances. Since I’ve been in recovery, my husband has since passed away. And I got through that clean. I have the support of the recovery community to get me through any situation that I’m in. I share with the participants at the recovery organization that I work at all the time. And one of them told me that I should share this story with you today.
I have a theory about people with substance use disorders. And my theory is that they have bigger hearts than average people do. And because of that, they don’t deal with their feelings well because their feelings are so large. So, they turn to substances to deal with those large feelings that they have. So, they find recovery and they start to work a recovery program and that’s not being clean. That’s working a recovery program. And those big hearts come out again. And because those big hearts come out and they give back to the recovery community, It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
There is hope. Do not let the stigma keep you from asking for help. Don’t let it linger on because there is hope in recovery. Recovery works and I’ve seen it with my own eyes many, many times.
Thanks to recovery, Brenda has been clean for over 14 years.
She chose to swim.Share your Story