This post is dedicated to the wonderful women at the OG MAT Mom Group on Facebook, who have given me the courage to share my story and to not me ashamed.
As a woman and mother in the sober community, it’s my duty to share how I got sober. And I’ve left a huge part of my recovery story out of my recovery story.
I got sober, and have stayed sober, with the help of a maintenance medication. Suboxone saved my life.
Just over two years ago I was just out of jail and had lost my friends, my family, my car, my home, my kids. I was moving fast toward losing my life. I was on probation and looking at more jail time if I didn’t shape up. I got sober out of necessity.
I feel safe to say now that when I first got on Suboxone, I thought of it as a way to cheat the system. I didn’t want to be sober. I didn’t want to get sober or put in the work. I wanted to stay out of jail and I wanted to get my kids back. The only way I could see doing those things was to get on Suboxone.
But something else happened.
After several months of white-knuckling my way through a “cheater’s recovery” (if you ask almost anyone in the rooms or in other programs of recovery), I found myself putting forth an effort I’d never thought I could. I found myself actively participating in my recovery. I found myself wanting to stay sober. For the first time in my life, I could say that I didn’t want to use anymore.
And there was more.
I was actively participating in my children’s lives. I was a part of my family again. I’d earned the trust of my mom, my sister, my employer, my probation officer, my doctors and nurses. I’d gotten a promotion. I’ve bought a house, and a car (with the help of my mom, who would have never dreamed of buying me a car when I was in active addiction).
I fell in love, I got my heart broken; I lost my kids and got my kids back (again!); I started a community of women who support each other through their every day struggles and recovery; I started a business that’s still taking off; I wrote a workbook. And through all of this I never turned back to drugs. I did things I’d only dreamt of doing, and things I thought I would never do.
But was I really sober for all of this?
Did I really feel all of it?
I guess that’s up for debate.
But I can tell you this: I’m proud of where I am today. And more than that, I’m alive, and for the first time in my life, I’m happy to be alive. I can enjoy life and my kids and my family. I can face the pain and the hurt without running back to an old familiar flame that took half my life from me.
I started using opioids when I was 12 years old. I was sure I would die on them. More than once, I tried to die.
Say what you will about MAT and maintenance medications. Say what you will about MY recovery. In the end, it is my recovery and it isn’t any more or less than yours just because I had help.
I’m not proud of the fact that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t, or didn’t) do it on my own. But I am proud of where I am today and I am grateful for the help I’ve received along the way from my doctor, my therapist, my friends, and my recovery community. I’m grateful for the other moms and women on MAT out there who showed me that I don’t have to be ashamed anymore. That I don’t have to be afraid. That my story is important to tell.
If it weren’t for Suboxone, I would be dead. Point-blank.
But I’ve got a story to tell, and this is a huge part of it. I won’t be ashamed anymore. I won’t be afraid of losing followers or respect. I won’t be afraid to tell the world that Suboxone saved my life at a point when I didn’t think my life was worth saving.
This is my story. Nobody else’s.
NOTE: Suboxone and maintenance drugs aren’t for everyone. I wouldn’t even say it’s for a majority. But there are as many ways to recover as there are individuals in recovery, and each person must find what works for him or herself. And as a community we need to stop shaming each other, and ourselves, for how we and others choose to recover. We’re here to support one another, regardless of the paths we walk. We’re all here with one reality in mind: recovery, or death. End the stigma associated with addiction and MAT recovery.