COMBATTING THE OPIOID CRISIS BY DESIGN





︎antiOD Story: Amanda

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MAT SUPPORT COMMUNITY of OHIO#MATSCofOHIO


Amanda Meyers’ Story


My name is Amanda Meyers and I'm 31 years old.My story of my life before addiction, after addiction and during addiction. I grew up here in Cincinnati and it was a pretty normal childhood. I grew up in a suburban family. My mom had me very very young, so my grandparents helped take care of me. A Lot of the times I went to a really good school, but I did get bullied a lot as a kid. I was tall and a little heavier than thequote-unquote normal sized child. My dad was an addict, he was not in my life at all. I always had a lot of questions about that. When I went to middle school I didn't really have a lot of friends but I played a lot of sports, so that kind of kept me focused and centered. I played basketball all the time, I played alot in high school but I wanted to start hanging out with the cool kids so I quit. I started making not the best of decisions and I started hanging out with a group of kids that I didn't even go to school with. They did whatever they wanted, so I just started to experiment with” the gateway drug”. They smoked weed and so forth and by my senior year I was already addicted to cocaine and was in my first rehab,outpatient rehab. By the time I was 19 I was working and serving. I've always been a server, it's cash on hand so when you do drugs that's perfect.
The first outpatient rehab did not go to well. I didn't even finish it of course. I made friends in there, they were doing the same thing I was doing. I'm thinking about how can we scheme and do this and still be in rehab and still get high at the same time! I didn't go to college right after high school. When I was a server, at this point I kind of slowed down on the cocaine and was introduced to my first opiate at the age of 20. I had a co-worker say, “ You know you'll work really fast you'll make really good money! It will make you really happy.” I was like, “ All right.” So I tried it for the first time and then fell in love completely. It became an everyday thing but I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I didn't know that your body could become dependent on opiates. I didn't realize the whole full extent of it. I did that for a good year and then before I knew it, I got even worse and I started doing oxycontin and all my money went to pills. I couldn't pay my bills. I started getting in legal trouble, started making really bad decisions. I thought it would be a good idea if I quit working in the restaurant business, that would help me.

I started working at a bank in a more professional atmosphere. That's when I wasprobably at the peak of my pill use. It was awful, I was literally standing at work falling asleep. I wouldn't say falling asleep, but I was nodding out standing up in this bank. I lived in my own apartment and I couldn't pay my bills. I started stealing, I was embezzling money from my joband I did it for six months. I began to get really scared and I quit. Then about a year later I had a detective knocking on my door at my parents house. I had to go andtalk to him, and I didn't know what to do, what not to say what to say. I had to pretty much turn myself in and that was my first felony. A felony five theft and I was definitely now the black sheep of my family. Nobody in my family had ever been to jail, nobody did drugs. They would drink and smoke cigarettes on my mom’s side of the family. Then I had to go to River City because I couldn't stay clean and I couldn't pass my drug teston probation. I went and did River City. One month out I had relapsed.
At this time, there was a very shortage a very big shortage on pills, so my friend introduced me to heroin. I was 23 by this time I tried it, and within my first year of using heroin I caught two more felonies. This felony was against my own family. This was like a whole new different type of addiction. I thought I knew what was going on, but I didn't. I got kicked out of my mom's house because she couldn't trust me.She knew she couldn't leave her purse out, or you know I would take things to pawn it for money because I never wanted to be sick. This is when I saw a whole different side of me that I didn't really know existed, or could happen. I would always look and and say, “I'm never gonna do that”, or “I'm never gonna be that.” And that's exactly what I turned into when I was doing heroin. Doing it every day, that’s when it gets just crazy. I went into the CCAT house and tried to get clean. I left soon after being admitted. At that point I had to live in my car for a while, because no one in my family could trust me in their house unless they were there. I had started shooting dope and then I started scheming bad. I used to go in stores and take stuff. I was not making good choices at all. There's no fear like when you get to a certain point. In my case, I got to a certain point in my addiction where there was no fear, there was no fear of getting caught. If I did get caught, I didn't care.
You know, I think I looked a mess. You could probably look at me and tell I was up to something no good .I went into The CCAT house again and I'm going to probation this whole time and I just completely quit goin. I quit calling the urine hotline to see if I have to drop for probation and before I knew it everything just hits me at one time. I felt like I had a choice; I'm either going to prison or I'm gonna find a treatment center to try to get my life together. At this point, my mom calls my dad and we find out he's clean. We're like okay, well you know where did he go? What did he do and so my mom found out that he went through City Gospel Mission. So I went into this program because I didn't want to go to prison. I always heard about How you'll come out even worse. Then you have to worry about a prison number, so I went in front of my judge and pretty much pleaded and begged her to please not send me in a prison. I was 25 at this time ,so I went this treatment facility for two years. I got to go to school ,I got to really work on myself but I didn't really get to the root of my problems. I was working on all the things in my addiction, but now I've learned that you don't jump and do the things you wouldn’t
normally do unless there's an underlying issue. I guess I just never wanted to talk about it or deal with it. So I graduated the program, I got off of probation and I stayed clean for about a year. I got an apartment, and a car. Things were going pretty well, and I forgot where I came from.

I forget that in one second, you could make a bad choice and everything's gonna be gone again. So, I was in a relationship with my boyfriend trying to live your, “ normal life.” He was in recovery himself and he was a really good guy. I was really happy and he proposed to me down on Fountain Square; when they say love is blind and you don't really know what they're doing or what they are going to be doing. I was engaged and happy. Then I get a phone call from his pastor, that he had overdosed and died. I had no idea at all that he was using. He stayed with me every weekend. I didn't see any other warning signs I didn't see any of it, and that was so horrific. That was four years ago from now. He was very institutionalized I look back on it now, and he was having a hard time and that was the only way he knew how to escape. That was to get high, so that's what he did. He had been clean for so long that when he went and used the normal amount he used to, it it killed him. So my family stayed with me through that whole process. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through. I wasmeeting his family for the first time thinking, I'm gonna meet these people at my wedding and I'm meeting them at his funeral. I was very numb, it was a big blur. I really didn't know how to cope with what was happening. I was still going to college and I started doing pain pills again and before I knew it everything just started spiraling out of control. I couldn't pay my bills, my electric got turned off, I was begging my mom to help me. I think she knew but she was in denial a little bit. She just didn't want to see her daughter going down that path again. I end up losing my apartment, and I went to live with my grandfather, who always my father figure as a child. He was going through a really hard time because my grandparents just got a divorce. It was really hard on him, so he was a very depressed man. Then I came in there to live with him and I was very depressed. I was using drugs but he didn't want to be alone so he let me live there. I think he turned a blind eye to what I was doing. It was probably the worst decision,him and he wasn't alone.  We enabled each other.  He would let me do what I wanted to; use his car, he would take me to work and he would sleep all day.

       I should have been the granddaughter that would go on walks, but I wasn't in the right state of mind. So you have a depressed, ill person living with a depressed addict. Looking back on it now, it was very very unhealthy. At that time I had wrecked my car, or technically it was his car, and I got an OVI because I had nodded out and hit a car. I didn't want to face any of those consequences so I just kept running and running and running from it and never dealt with it at all. I was working this whole time. I've somehow kept a job. I've wasn't the best at, probably called off a lot but I always stayed in the restaurant business. I was always serving because I knew if I worked I could leave with cash and that to do like illegal things. I went to a lot of check and go places because I would have a bank account and use my paycheck stubs to hit every single cash advance and check and go places in my area. Then they would call consistently, they'd come after you so it's double-edged sword either way you went. So, I'm working and I decide I need to go to treatment again. I need to do that and I go to The CCAT house for my third time. I don't even make it through detox a girl comes in that I used to get high with and me and her thought it would be this great idea to leave.

       Throughout my entire addiction I stole from my family I lied to my family. I lied to myself most of all. After so much time I would believe my own lies. I was pretty much brainwashing myself because I really didn't want to face what I was doing and all the wreckage I wasdoing, all the hurt I was going through, not only tomyself but everybody around me. So, I leave CCAT for the third time and I go to my grandpa's pretty much to drop off my clothes. I gave him a really big hug and I stole his credit card. I went and got a gift card, then I would sell the gift card and get money for them. I was doing that and was gone for like two days straight. Didn't talk to anybody. The only person that knew I left treatment was my Grandpa. I knew I needed to go back to CCAT. I couldn’t believe Ileft treatment again. I can't believe I let myself down again, because the person you let down the most besides everybody else is yourself. I always would have to look at everything I did and how i was going to fix all this? Or how am I going to have people forgive me? So I went back to my grandpa's house and I'm sitting there and I'm telling myself, you know what maybe he went on a walk it's really quiet. The dogs in there and I'm sitting down for a good thirty minutes and I guess that my grandmother had been calling his phone and my phone and no one was answering. She comes over and I'm all messed up, and she's asks, “Where's your grandpa?” I responded, “I don't know, I think he's on a walk.Or maybe he went up to the bakery or something.”

       I start like looking around in the house and the house is not not that big. I walk into his bedroom and I find him, he had passed away. That is an image that no one should ever have to see.I looked up to him my entire life. He was in this really like awkward position and I remember having to call the police. When everybody got there I wanted to move him, but they wouldn't let me because they had to rule out suicide and to make sure it was from natural causes. It was awful. Within 20 minutes, my entire family is at my grandfather's house and I'm just standing there with all these paramedics. The cops and everybody. Looking back on it now I know he'sin a better place because he was extremely unhappy. He wasn't taking care of himself, he was telling me that he was taking his heart medicine and come to find out we opened up the cabinetsand there was nothing but all his medicine. Full prescription bottles of medicine. We had to plan the whole funeral, and the entire time I'm using. I went full blown back into using heroin because I didn't know how to deal with that. I didn't know what I was doing. I had my family and lawyers asking me questions. It was awful, it was horrific being asked all those medical questions I didn't know the answers to. I wasn't there, I was physically there, but I was not there.

       I thought, I gotta go away. Maybe if I change the area, maybe if I leave Cincinnati and go to a rehab somewhere else I'll have a chance. My family found this rehab in Toledo because I
called my mom and I said, “ I'm either not gonna be here anymore because I'm just gonna end my life because I'm so miserable, or my addiction is gonna kill me! I know I'm at this point where my body can't take anymore and I mentally cannot take any more of this.” Within two days my mom is driving me to Toledo. My insurance would only cover detox there, but they had this outpatient thing where you would put you in a hotel and they would transport you back and forth to all the day programming.  There was five of us, who are five days to ten days clean,  in a hotel going back and forth to this day treatment thing. I knew in my head, that it was only a matter of time. I knew it and it was, we all started using and ripping and running around a Toledo. I didn’t know anybody in Toledo. I just met these people and I'm living in a hotel. I started boosting. I got kicked out of the hotel of course because I wasn't clean and I was living in a truck with a complete stranger. Everything happened to me up there. I did that for like six weeks and then I called my mom, and was like “I gotta get out of here. I gotta go. I'm gonna die up here. I need to come home!” I came home and I remember getting off the Greyhound and I was very dirty because I couldn't shower up there. I remember my mom just crying and looking at me. I was real skinnyWhile in Toledo I had called a rehab here in Cincinnati that I knew was long-termprogram. I knew I needed to go somewhere for a while, so off I went to another rehab in Clermont County. I detoxed there, and they put you in a room and they just let you go through it. I remember laying there like, “ I don't ever want to feel like this again.” It’s like 30-something women, and you're laying there just detoxing and feeling like you're gonna die. When I first got there I didn't know if I was gonna stay. It was very strict, it was very intimidating, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I made. I stayed and I was at my rock bottom. I didn't care I let everything out. I let all the dirt that I did to people out. I didn't care what you thought about me, I had to work really, really hard and get to my core issue which I found out was self-doubt, abandonment, the things with my biological father, that's why I was kept using. I was trying to submerge and mask all that because I didn't want to feel it. Some of those feelings you just feel like your hearts being ripped out of your chest. My mom came up there on Saturdays for visits and before I knew it , we actually started to have this relationship like I've always wanted to have with my mom. I told my mom you can ask me whatever you want you may not like the answer, but you have the right to know. I just stayed there for a hundred and thirty one days! I graduated and left that program. I went and got the Vivitrol shot because I knew it would be a very good idea for me. I weighed my pros and cons list, talked to my family and it was just a good choice for me.

       By this time opiates for ten years and using drugs for 14. I started that in treatment and I continued to do that and I graduated and it was beautiful! I had a whole front row of my family there and, I never had felt like an adult. When I left that treatment center I felt a lotlighter, I knew I had gotten everything out. I wasn't hiding anything anymore and I wasn't walking around with like 10,000 pounds of what felt like rocks on my shoulders. I went home, my mom let me come home for a month and I began going to groups. I knew when I left that treatment center I couldn't just stop programming. I couldn't have all that free time on my hands hands, it just would have been a good idea. I went and did programming for a few hours every day, for a couple days a week. I did not start looking for a job right away. I got a part-time job
and I got very involved with people who were on medicated assisted treatment as well. I knew that I could talk to them and they would understand, because we were all kind of in the same boat. I got myself an apartment by myself and started meeting with a group of people every Wednesday with people who are just like me. It was our little meeting of people on Medication Assisted Treatment. We could talk about problems with doctors, nurses, and people looking at us differently because we're going a different route and not fully diving into AA or Na. At this time I have my family trusting me again. I was two months out of treatment which meant I was six months clean and my mom asked me to house-sit because they were going out of town. I was like, is this really happening? Was my mom trusting me in her house alone? This March I will have house sat and watched my brother two times! I am coming up on the third time! I just knew that it was time to put my big girl pants on! That life is gonna happen, you can deal with life if you have a good support system , if you're doing what you need to do. Everybody's got problems, I just didn't have the right coping tools. I do I have better ones now than

       I work in a really good restaurant environment. I will be celebrating ten months clean in a week!! I'm part of this great organization that's trying to do something new and help make people feel comfortable and be able to speak about what saved their life. Whatever your path, suboxone is vivitrol or abstinence. Whatever it is!

I am Amanda Meyers.
I am an addict in recovery! I am #MATSCofOHIO
I am ANTI OD


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