Ninth grade was the year everything fell apart for me. One minute I was the star player on a highly competitive basketball team with my eye on a sports scholarship, the next minute I was on the ground and my future was shattered. All it took was one wrong step and I tore all the ligaments in my ankle. Not only was I now out of my favorite sport for the rest of the season, but I was in incredible pain. My parents took me to the ER but there wasn’t much they could do for that type of injury other than bandage me up and tell me to rest. Oh, and they also gave me a bunch of painkillers to help me sleep. I never imagined when the nurse handed me that first bottle of Percocet that it would be the beginning of a love affair with opiates that would nearly kill me.
I started taking the Percocet as prescribed, and it did exactly what promised—numb me and take away the pain. But it wasn’t long before I started to notice it had a bonus side effect: It nixed my psychological pain too. Still devastated from my accident, I was depressed and anxious and I loved the relief the meds gave me from my thoughts. And I didn’t just feel better, I felt euphoric, better than I’d ever felt. It was this incredible feeling of “no one can touch me, I’m invincible!” I didn’t understand it at the time, but that was my first real “high.” I’d spend the next few years chasing that feeling.
The bottle the doctor at the hospital gave me was empty a lot sooner than it should have been. I went back to my doctor and lied, exaggerating my pain to get another prescription. That one-month bottle lasted me exactly a week. After that, I wasn’t able to get any more pills, but I still craved the high. So by 10th grade, I was abusing alcohol and doing cocaine, shrooms, and any pills I could get my hands on. By this time my ankle had healed completely, but I was no longer interested in playing sports. The natural high I got from the endorphin rush didn’t hold a candle to the chemical highs I was getting.
Eventually, my drug use got me kicked out of school two months before graduation. Instead of seeing that as a reality check, I rushed through my GED and moved in with my addict boyfriend so we could do as many drugs as we liked. But when it came to drugs, I always had one line I wouldn’t cross: heroin. In my mind, heroin was only for hopeless junkies who wandered the streets and did unspeakable things to feed their addiction. I would never be one of those people, I told myself.
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