My name is Heather, and I am a woman in Long-Term Recovery! I have been in recovery since 2020 and my journey with SUD began when I was young. I started smoking and drinking when I was around 11 years old. When I was 13, I found Meth in one of my mom’s bags and immediately became addicted. I was a mess! I was in 6th grade when I was skipping lunch and smoking meth in the bathroom. My friends were confused as to why I was never at lunch. I was in an abusive relationship with a man twice my age. To escape my relationship and all the craziness, I ran away to NY to live with my dad. I found that changing locations did not have much of an impact on my situation, I continued to use drugs and repeat the same mistakes, only swapping out different substances.  By the age of 16, I found myself suffering from severe alcoholism.

When I was 17 years old, I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I managed to maintain my recovery throughout my entire pregnancy with her. The two occasions that I did try a drink, I became so ill that I did not want to repeat it. After she was born, I began using again on the weekends. Her dad was out of the house frequently due to his substance use. I became terribly angry at the home life I found myself living, which resulted in a lot of violence. After moving back to Colorado, my alcohol and drug use returned significantly.

I had my 2nd daughter when I was about 22 years old.  5 months after her birth DHS got involved in our lives. My girls were placed in a foster home with an amazing couple.  While I was incredibly grateful and blessed for them being placed in a good environment, being taken away from them broke my heart. I would wake-up in a panic and turn to alcohol in an attempt to numb my feelings. The relationship I was in was so toxic and abusive which only served to fuel my addiction even more. Losing my kids was not a big enough reason for me to change my behavior. Subsequently, I relinquished my rights to my girls to an amazing family that was able to provide and care for them as I continued to go in and out of jail.

I had 2 more kids I lost to DHS – both were placed together. To this day, I have no idea where they are, but I pray that they are happy and healthy. Waking up every day with a part of my soul missing caused me tremendous pain and led me to spiral out of control. I was in and out of jail facing 8 years in prison. In 2020 I was gratefully accepted into Recovery Court, a program that changed my entire life.

Today I have an amazing job and I am surrounded by amazing people who have also overcome this disease. I get to watch my oldest walk across the stage at her graduation. It has been almost 13 years since I have seen my girls. The blessings that come with sobriety are amazing, I am blessed with an abundance of great relationships today, I have friends that I can trust and rely on and the man I am with treats me with respect.

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