This content is for mature audiences and may contain triggers involving, but not limited to, drug use.
In the beginning, my drug and alcohol use was no more than the typical teenage escape. Being under the influence of chemicals provided me with the social courage I needed to build relationships with my peers, flirt with boys, make people laugh, and fit in. By my senior year in high school, my social life was dependent on the use of alcohol and smoking pot. If my friends and I were together it was for the sole purpose of getting high, of escaping, which usually was accompanied by bad decisions and regrettable sexual encounters. It was around this time that I met and started dating a boy named Mark. He was charming but experienced in a different way than I was. He came from a different reality and we soon embarked on a tumultuous journey of addiction, chaos, crime, and (eventually) recovery together.
Addiction and alcoholism don’t typically start badly for people. In the beginning, it’s about the fun and exploration involved in the lifestyle. The parties and bars, the lines of cocaine off the bathroom counter, the loud music, dancing, passion, and pills to come down from it all. In my experience, this portion of addiction doesn’t last long. The highs and lows jumped higher and fell lower, became more deadly and unforgiving. Bars were replaced by dope spots and the pills stopped helping the comedown. To maintain the cycle of drug use I had to engage in criminal activity which was inevitably followed up with arrests and stints in the county jail. Through the madness, Mark and I fell in love and got married without the support of my family. In 2011, after my 2nd or 3rd criminal charge, I decided to try an inpatient rehab and detox center. By then my drug use had escalated, crack and pills every day, alcohol every night to recharge, repeated day in a day out with little concern of hygiene or my responsibilities. When I arrived at the facility I immediately denied belonging there, I was not one of those people. About an hour into my stay the doctor called for me, upon entering his office he delivered the news that I was pregnant and at high risk for miscarriage because of my current physical state. This life I was living was no longer going to affect just me, but now my child. I was going to be a mom. My denial about the severity of my condition would persist but, at that moment, I wanted to get and stay sober. I wanted to be a good mom and provide my child with the life they deserved. If pregnancy and motherhood were the cure for addiction my life would have been a lot different, unfortunately, that is not the case and following my release from this facility I used almost immediately and continued to do so until shortly before giving birth. On July 2nd, 2011 Mark and I welcomed our beautiful daughter, Meadow, into this chaotic world we were living. She was perfect and for that, I am truly grateful.
Rock bottom. This phrase is so objective and I have a high pain tolerance. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. My daughter went to live with my mom when she was one. For almost a year, I lived in what most would consider an earthly version of Hell. Uppers were no longer providing me with the numbness I desired so by this time I was a daily IV heroin user. Being separated from my child and husband created a void in me so profound, so consuming. Every thought scanning through my head was about her, what she was doing, did she miss me, does she realize I’m gone. I lived in the streets during this time which made me vulnerable to even darker forces at work. In the early months of 2013, I was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted. Drugs were once again my source of comfort, in the disassociated state of opiates I could not feel, not feel the pain absorbing me, not feel his hands, not see the marks, and most importantly I could emotionally separate myself.
My 6th rehab stay came shortly after. I heard the same things, seen the same people, made the same resolutions. I left there and made the same choices which invariably ended at the same point of incomprehensible demoralization. Life changes drastically, quickly, and at times without your control or permission. In May of 2013, I began to feel immensely nauseous and went to the ER for some answers, there I learned that I was once again expecting, this time it was triplet girls. Defeat. Shame. Emptiness. Fear. I don’t think there are words to adequately explain the emotions that washed over me. I sought refuge at another rehab center that catered to pregnant women and women with small children. I felt so disconnected there, I couldn’t see past the fear and uncertainty of my situation. I wasn’t the woman meant for this; the Universe made a mistake. I wasn’t strong enough. Recovery was never going to happen for me, addiction had taken me to far down. Four kids in two years. I’ve never felt as inadequate as I did during the pregnancy. I completed that treatment program successfully and at just 28 weeks pregnant I gave birth via emergency cesarean to my daughters Summer, Autumn, and Winter. They were so tiny, so fragile, yet my love for them was intense. The NICU days were long and unbearable. Navigating post-partum depression and motherhood of four little girls was exhausting. Every day was a challenge. It took all of me to even get up and move forward with what needed to be done.
It would take one more visit to the gates of death, a prison sentence, and a child custody case but two months after their birth, on Christmas Day of 2013, I used for the last time. I stand today as a woman with over six years of continuous sobriety from all mood and mind-altering substances. My life today is so full and rewarding. Six years ago, I sat in a prison cell for the mistakes I made during my last run. Five years ago, Mark and I decided to put recovery into action in our marriage and we recently celebrated over ten years married, he also has been sober since 2013. Over four and a half years ago, we left a courtroom with our four children and they have been with us ever since. Two years ago, we purchased our first home in a beautiful suburb and filled it with laughter, love, little footsteps, and pets. One year ago, I commenced on a college education to obtain a degree in social work to put my experience to good use. My insides are no longer suffering. I no longer feel damaged. My spirit has been restored. I am at peace with the things I have seen, the pain that has been inflicted upon me, and the chaos I once carried. I am a different woman than I was 15 years ago when I drank for the first time. I cannot forget or stray too far from the reality of what alcohol and drugs can do to me or what power they can have over me. I feel confident that if I stay connected to the program of sobriety in AA and continue to grow and heal from life before recovery, that I will have continued success, even during the trials of life.
If you are struggling with chemical dependence or addiction please reach out and ask for help.
You are worth saving, you deserve so much more than what drugs can provide you, and your mistakes do not define or impact the person you are capable of becoming.
Bree Rowe is a sober mom of four girls, including triplets. She has been in recovery since the end of 2013 and loves helping others. She knows the importance of healing from the past and continuing to move forward.