“I experienced a lot of bullying growing up and started drinking and smoking pot at age 14. I was with older kids, and I just wanted to be accepted. That very first time, I blacked out, and I was suicidal. But I wanted more. I wanted to be liked. To escape, feel numb.” – Alicia
Read Alicia's Story
I had a really good teacher who pushed me to complete my studies, but I barely graduated. My mom and dad never knew the extent of my using. And I was really good at hiding things.
By my sophomore year in college, I knew I had a problem and I got group counseling. The counselor, who was an intern, couldn’t do it anymore. It just became too much work to find another counselor and I didn’t want to deal with it. I dropped out my sophomore year, knowing I was disappointing my mom and dad, letting them down. But I just wanted them to leave me alone. I thought I was fine, but I know my addiction got worse after I dropped out of college.
When I was 21, I was arrested for operating a car under the influence, and lost my license. I was in an abusive relationship. I got evicted from my apartment. Then my mom helped me get into rehab. Eventually, I found an apartment, got one-one-one counseling and everything was good. I stayed sober for four years. I was doing great—I had a job, I was going to school, had a good relationship, and connected with my family again. Even though I was sober, my mental health always played a big role in my addiction. My mood was up and down. I felt out of control…and my skills went out the window. I wanted to die. I consciously decided to use heroin. It was easy, accessible to me and that’s what I wanted. The first time, I snorted it. But when I watched my friend injecting it, I saw how fast she got high, I wanted that! I hated needles, so I had her shoot me up. I was off and running from there.
When you’re not working, you do whatever you can to get high—sell drugs, steal, sleeping with people for drugs. And when you are an IV drug user, you share needles; you just want to get high. I had such disregard for my life. I’d get up, I’d get high. Get high at home; get high in the car—I got shot up with heroin while I was driving. I’d get high at least four times a day, spending $250-$300 a day. You lie, you steal, you manipulate. It’s all a consequence of when you’re using and drinking.
In May 2015, I overdosed three times. The first time it was really scary. I was disoriented, passing out, couldn’t form words. I woke up with someone telling me that I had just overdosed. An addict isn’t going to stop unless they get help and treatment. Narcan saved my life, and clean needles helped prevent IV-transmitted diseases. Those overdoses happened at my apartment. The third one happened in a Walmart parking lot.
By 2015, I was in a psychosis—due to mental health and drug use. When I was arrested for burglary, I went to jail. But it absolutely saved my life. It took the drugs away from me. I was in a safe place. And I finally admitted to my mom that I was doing heroin. One night, I got on my hands and knees. I was scared that someone would walk by and see me praying and make fun of me. But in desperation, I asked God for help.
‘God, I’m ready to grow up,’ I said out loud. The next day, I got health insurance, got accepted into a drug and alcohol treatment program, and went into rehab for nine months. I learned skills to handle my mental health and substance abuse. I got my family back, made friends with other sober people. And I found a true friend for the first time in my life.
Now I’m on probation. With help from my Counselor Sally, I learned the skills to continually stay sober. To make good decisions…to boost my self-esteem…to find sober activities to keep me safe and healthy.
When you are using, your whole life is falling apart. Support from counseling, family, sober friends—all played a big part in my recovery. I have been sober two and a half years. And I have never felt better. Life is good. ~Alicia
As one of Maine’s five counties with the highest opioid-related deaths; York County currently holds the number two spot. In just one year, York Hospital cared for 37 overdoses in our Emergency Department! With your help we can change this!
Our new addiction treatment & recovery program—The Recovery Center at York Hospital—will open its doors this month/April 2018 to our first patients suffering from Opioid and other addictions; to treat dependence issues and for the prevention of accidental overdose.
A group of York Hospital medical providers, led by Dr. Jill George, will be able to prescribe anti-craving medications to patients to aid in the treatment of substance use disorders. This along with the highly skilled team of licensed counselors at York Hospital will make up the new Recovery Center team.
This “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders—through a combination of medication and therapy will:
Provide rapid access to clinical evaluation and treatment
Offer services within 48 hours – because patients need treatment when they are ready!
Extend care beyond the 24-week intensive, outpatient program, with continued access to medical-assisted treatment.
Your support will impact in the lives of our recovery patients through these community health priorities:
Training Recovery Coaches who guide and support patients in long-term recovery from addiction—reducing relapses, helping with life goals like work, education and relationships. And each recovery coach will each be able to help 30 patients!
Providing patient transportation service to The Recovery Center after hours
Offering lectures and group meetings to help sustain our patients and The Recovery Center.
Providing treatment medication
Making Narcan rescue medication kits accessible and affordable
Other notes to include?
Perhaps you have struggled, or know of someone with a drug and/or alcohol problem, and wonder why they don’t get treatment they need? Some just aren’t ready to stop using…others may not know where to go for treatment, or worry about how society sees them, feel ashamed; judging without knowing what they had gone through in life. And some don’t have health coverage.
Whether it’s a loved one seeking guidance about how to help a family member with a substance use disorder, or someone in need of assistance for a personal situation.
This is just one story of a young woman from our own community who has struggled with addiction.
The only way to see what happens is to look at individual human beings, one be one.
Just because they are suffering doesn’t mean they lack dignity. They are not deviants. They are ordinary citizens, our neighbors, our family members, our friends, our co-workers.
“I do not understand the concept of social drinking. I don’t know how someone can drink half a cocktail and walk away from it.” -Colleen
Read Colleen's Story
I had a brain that would never shut off at bedtime. The only way I could quell that anxiety was to drink. I’d watch the clock and when it was 4:59 pm, I would get butterflies in my stomach, knowing I could start drinking. It was the one thing I looked forward to. By 9pm I would be passed out. I’d wake to find a blanket over me and knew it was my daughter who had covered me. I am a blackout drinker.
Ironically, it was a bacterial strep infection in my leg which could have taken my life—that actually saved my life. Because it got me to stop drinking. At that point I was literally drinking to stay alive. When I didn’t have alcohol in my system. My hands would shake so badly I had to drink before I could even bring a fork to my mouth. Or put on my mascara.
At work I passed out cold at my desk. I woke up to find my boss standing over me, shaking her head saying, “Get out of here now!” Nothing mattered to me at this point. And when my husband asked me to leave. I was relieved. I had no one bugging me about my drinking, anymore.
I didn’t care about anything then, only when, and how much I could get my hands on. I grew up in a very privileged home, yet now I’d lost my home, my marriage, my family, and my job. I was homeless, living in my car for six months.
I never was honest with my doctor about the extent to which I was drinking The counselors at York Hospital helped me understand my disease, deal with everyday life, and not feel ashamed that I have this disease. It’ll eight be eight months since I’ve been sober. And this is honestly the first time in years that I am truly happy. I thought the best I could ask for was to be content. And last summer, for the first time in years, I had a belly laugh.
“At 42, I’d lost a marriage, my family, my license, a number of jobs and my profession as a psychologist. Addiction has taken me from the suburbs to the streets.” -Daniel
Read Daniel's Story
At 42, I’d lost a marriage, my family, my license, a number of jobs and my profession as a psychologist. Addiction has taken me from the suburbs to the streets.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, your education, or the amount of money you have. Addiction is a great leveler.
Addiction is a disease of denial—and the worst of the lies are the ones you tell yourself.
You believe you have control when you really don’t. You have a relationship with the drug. I knew it was wrecking my life, but I couldn’t imagine living without it. And I really didn’t believe I had the right to expect anything better.
Recovery is about rebuilding connections with other people.
Sobriety is my happy ending. And finally being able to accept my addiction. Understand that addiction was about disconnection from myself, others, social fabric. And that recovery is about RE-connecting – seeing myself honestly, building a life. Getting better is not about will-power. ~Dave, York
Letter from Dave titled, Addiction / Alcoholism – Is Driven by Self-Centered Fear
So, what’s your happy ending?
“Recovery has forced me to fundamentally change the person I was when I became addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I had to become rigorously honest with myself about who I had become and how that impacted my life as well as those who cared about me. I had to take responsivity for my behaviors and how they had impacted the lives of others.
Addiction was my disconnect from life. As I move ahead in recovery, I reconnect with myself, those around me and the constructive possibilities for my living as part of something greater than myself (spiritual reconnect). Maintaining connection with other sober persons, both peers and professionals (such as those one finds at the Recovery Center) is the most important support one can have. Others on the recovery journey cared for me when I could not care for myself. They showed me that I was a ‘sick’ personal rather than a ‘bad’ person. They gave proof positive that change could happen then offered Hope, Faith and Guidance.
Today, I am a better person than I’ve ever been. I show up for Life and live fully.
My heart is open – I can pass on to others what was so freely given to me.
I Accept myself as I Am.
I Accept Others as they Are.
I Accept Life As it Is.
I give what I can to helping others.
I trust in the goodness of benevolent spiritual Powers.
And to an underlying / abiding purpose to Living – which is simply, Loving.
At York Hospital we respect everyone who comes to us for help—and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while this story is true, the names of our patients have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.