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Addiction Recovery Research Center

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

2 Riverside Circle

Roanoke, VA  24016

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Phone: 540-315-0205

Email: iqrr@vtc.vt.edu

Media Inquiries:

John Pastor, FBRI Director of Communications

Phone: 540-526-2222

Email: jdpastor@vt.edu

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AMY'S Story 

“I guess I should start with, I’m Amy and I’m an addict.

I’m not sure how to put my story into words without it being a very long tale. It starts with me as a preteen hanging out with the wrong crowd and going through some hard experiences. I started using Marijuana when I was eleven as a way to fit in and relax and soon realized that it helped me to forget about pain and rejection that I had been through as a child. I had started smoking cigarettes when I was eight and the “next step” to weed seemed logical. When I started high school, I made some new friends but I still had my old ones as well. My new friends were “good” kids and didn’t smoke or drink or use drugs. I quit smoking cigarettes but I still smoked pot when I was with my other friends. When I was fifteen, I was introduced to heroin for the first time and I was hooked. I’ve never really been afraid of needles, but I didn’t like them, so I smoked the heroin and I loved it. It was something that I had to keep hidden from my school friends and I had no idea that they could see that I was changing. I didn’t feel like I was changing, so I didn’t see it either. I lost good friends, good relationships and at the time I believed that it was okay because they were just interfering with my using anyway. At nineteen, I got married to a man who was also a user. He was also an alcoholic. During our ten year marriage, we had three children and more fights then I could count. I stopped using heroin very early in the relationship and eventually he stopped too because he, “couldn’t enjoy his high” around me. I continued smoking weed and cigarettes (which I had started again when I was eighteen) and very occasionally I would have a drink. Ten and a half years after I got married, I left my abusive husband and moved in with an old boyfriend. My children were living with my parents and had been for a long time. My new (old) boyfriend didn’t smoke, so I quit and didn’t use drugs, so I cut way back on my pot smoking. I went from smoking half to three quarters of an ounce in two days down to a quarter of an ounce in a week and a half. For almost two years, things continued like this. I didn’t see it, of course, but my use started to increase until I was smoking almost as much as I had been when I moved in. My boyfriend had reached his breaking point and told me that he couldn’t continue to live like that anymore. I was too unreliable, unpredictable and my use was way too expensive for him to keep supporting. He was going to leave and I became distraught. In desperation to keep him from leaving, I asked if he would still leave if I quit. He said that we could stay together if I did and that night, I smoked everything I had left.

That was July 6, 2010. On July 7, 2010, I woke up and started a new life. I hadn’t been “straight” or “clean” for more than twenty years and now, I’ve been clean and sober for almost two. My life is much better. I’m still with my boyfriend, and I’m starting to get my kids back living with me. I have a Higher Power who loves me and wants what is best for me. I owe a lot of my success to the program of Narcotics Anonymous and the help I’ve found in my new friends in the program. I also couldn’t have done it without the loving support of my boyfriend. I have truly been blessed.”