This blog has even up for about three months now. In this time some really remarkable has happened. I got a free therapist. I have been able to write about issues and emotions that ai could never bring myself to speak aloud, even if within the confines of a shrinks office.
My intentions for starting up this blog was to serve two primary purposes. One was to put it out there. My life, my past. This was to serve a few different goals. One was to hold myself accountable in my recovery. I had been clean before for almost three years when I relapsed. My hope is that by publicly discussing my actions and my life, I will be less likely to relapse. I know that I can not right about recovery and clean living if I am getting high. This is a thought that is at the forefront of my brain. I now have people all over the world to hold me accountable. I have people that can tell me that I disappointed them if I pick up. To that end, if I do fuck up, I have hundreds of followers to support me on my journey to get back on track.
As a mother, an addicted mother, I am far too painfully aware of the ostrisizm that society can afflict on women – especially wives and mothers- who struggle with substance abuse. For some reason, people seem to have it in their minds that as soon as a woman gets pregnant, their addiction just subsides, disappears into the blackness of outer space. Of course this doesn’t happen. People look at it like it is simply a matter of selfishness. If you loved your child, whether it is an unborn fetus or a child that you are currently taking care of, you would just stop. It is not that simple. Not by a long shot.
First of all, depending on the drug that the mother is addicted to, and if they are pregnant, they can not just up and quit. I was using heroin and cocaine when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Irony of ironies, I discovered that I was pregnant while doing the intake at a rehab. I was trying to be admitted to a pilot program for suboxone which was relatively new at the time. Along with a drug screen, upon entrance into the program and then weekly, all women were given a pregnancy test. See, unlike methadone, suboxone is not FDA approved to be taken by pregnant women. So on that fateful day, I found out that not only was I not allowed to be admitted into that program, but that I was pregnant. Pregnant at the age of 20, with a drug habit to boot.
I subsequently started looking into programs to go into. While researching facilities, I found out a few things. Firstly, and with the most impact, was that a pregnant woman can not just quit heroin cold turkey. Opiate withdrawls are highly unlikely to kill an addicted adult, but there is a very high chance that they will kill the fetus. So I quit using the coke the moment that Indiscovered that I was pregnant. But for the heroin, I had to find a place. Well, almost no rehab, program, clinic, anything, wants to take a pregnant and addicted woman. This is farther complicated by the fact that methadone is the only drug FDA approved to give pregnant women to get off of opiates of any kind.
I called around to all of the methadone clinics in the area. Not a single one would admit me as a new patient. If you are already a client of a methadone clinic and then become pregnant, they have no choice but to continue to let you benefit from their services. There are not going to take on a pregnant woman as a new client. Too much of a liability I suppose.
Finally, after calling what seemed like hundreds of places, I found CAP – The Center For Addiction And Pregnancy- at Johns Hopkins Bayview. They are an eight day I patient program. Upon completion of the inpatient portion a woman can either continue on with their intensive, and I do mean intensive, outpatient program, or transfer to another inpatient rehab. Once CAP has detoxes you, other facilities will take you on. This is provided that you do the eight day methadone detox, like I did. If you choose to stay on methadone, or do methadone matinence, then you have to stay at CAP. You go seven days a week for 28 days straight. They dose the women who are on the matinence program and everyone (whether they are being dosed or not) attends groups for eight hours a day. After those 28 days, you drop to six days a week (matinence women receive a Sunday take home). After 28 days of that you go to five days a week, and so on and so on.
After I had completed the inpatient and the first 28 day level of outpatient, I tried to have my case transferred to my counties outpatient program. I was not trying to drive to Baltimore everyday. It wasn’t the driving. It was the fact that I only ever went there to get high. I was too much temptation. I was in my counselor’s office while she was on the phone with the Howard County Health Department. For background Howard County is overall the richest county in the state of Maryland. The average house is about $700,000 and this is brought down significantly because of the two clusters of apartment complexes that are affordable. Affordable being $1,250 a month rent for a one bedroom. Anyway I heard her on her end, “Yes, she is addicted to heroin.”. “Yes, she is pregnant”. “No, I understand.” They wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.
So long story short, I write this to help clear the stigma of addiction. To be clear, I do not have some sort of over inflated ego that allows me to think that by me writing about myself, my struggles, and my thoughts on addiction, I am going to change the overall climate on the views of drug addicts. It’s just that when I was in high school and first went on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications, back in 2002, it was very taboo to discuss or admit to having any sort of mental health issues. Now, twelve years later, millions of Americans are on some sort of psychiatric medication. My hope is that by me opening up and talking about the taboo that still lingers around addiction, I can help to motivate people, if only even one, to seek help, to admit to having a problem.
I have had a few mothers thank me for talking about addiction and motherhood. This is not to say that men are given a free pass at being addicts. Not at all. It is just that motherhood just adds one more obstacle to push through in order to have people accept you. It means the world to me to have some one thank me for writing about, vocalizing, my story.
That has been the big surprise of writing this blog. I had no idea just how therapeutic and beneficial just putting this shit out there could be. By writing about being raped, I was able to finally process it in ways that I had not been able to do in the thirteen years prior. I was able to forgive my rapist. We will never be friends, nor do I ever want to see him or speak to him again, but I am fianlly able to begin to heal. I couldn’t begin to move forward with my life until I let go of the hate and pain that was attached to the refusal to forgive. That rape, whil traumatic, painful, and awful made me a stronger person. I still don’t really trust anyone which is incredibly isolating, but perhaps with time, I will work through that as well.
Recently someone suggested that perhaps I should stop writing about so much personal shit. They were saying that it was a bad look to talk about all this drug shit. To this, I say a big, hearty, “Fuck you!”. Most people knew or had some idea of my addiction. Not everyone, some people were totally shocked, but people in my family, they knew somewhat. Now instead of the whispers and the gossip mill of the fake as motherfuckers that would smile in mine and my husband’s faces and run their mouths behind our back, they have the truth. There is nothing to gossip and whisper about because I have copped to my past. I own it, and that is a huge weight off of my chest. Also, I have been clean for two years in July. These stories of things that I did while I was living in the on-going hell that is active addiction is just that – stories – past tense.
I have to write. It keeps me same. It keeps me sober. Even from a purely selfish stand point, I can not stop. I will not. Besides that, I have received enough positive comments from people to feel like for once my addiction is serving some small, tiny good in the world. Maybe this is my calling. I have never figured out what my path was supposed to be, what my place on this Earth was. Perhaps it is to write, or to be a social worker, to help people overcome their own demons and battles with the monkey on their backs.
As for if this is my true calling in the world, it is too soon to tell. What I do know, is that this here, this blog, this is me. For the first time in my life, something feels so right, so natural. I set out to document my struggles with addiction, but I had no idea just how much I would gain in the process. This has been and continues to be a true lifesaver. To everyone who reads my posts and comments, thank you so much. It means the world to me, and I hope to continue to have your support. I look forward to hearing your comments.