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    Monica Z., alcoholic, alumni at New Directions. My story starts off as a teenager experimenting with drugs, alcohol. What the cool kids did, never felt like I fit in. The first time I got drunk, all the kids liked me, so I just kept going. Tried meth the first time at 15, 14. Then, I went away to college, kept using there. I was a functioning addict. I got a job. I had a college degree. I thought I was a good functioning addict. I had money, I had a house, I had a car.

    Of course, it got progressively worse and I couldn’t get high anymore. I tried new things, tried different ways of getting high and quickly found myself losing everything. I literally started shooting heroin and the next day, I lost my car and my house, everything. My family wouldn’t talk to me. It got bad real quick. I want to blame it on heroin, but I can’t blame it on heroin. It was everything collaborating that made me. I quickly lost my family, my friends; until I was literally by myself shooting dope behind a garbage can.

    That’s where my addiction took me. It took me to the depths of hell, in any sense. I had no hope for a future. I had no hope to get clean. I had no hope to get sober. I thought, ‘This was my life,’ and I had accepted the fact that I was a drug addict and it would kill me. I thought AA was a joke. I thought everybody in there was lying. ‘There’s no way they could be sober.’ On May 3rd, I was …

    Everybody says, “I would never do that. I would never do this. I would never do that.” I did all my nevers. I was selling my body. I was stealing from Jack to pay Paul. I got picked up by a man and he beat me up and brutally raped me.

    I was sitting in the hospital and I was like, “Aren’t you guys going to stop me from bleeding? Like, what are you guys doing” to the nurses.

    She’s like, “Well, the cops are coming.”

    I jumped out of bed, almost bleeding to death, “Why are you calling the cops? I have petty theft warrants. Like, how could you do that to me?” I quickly realized then that something was wrong. I was afraid of charging this man with what he did to me, which was horrible, because I had a warrant for theft. That’s when I had my ‘ah-ha,’ like something’s got to change. This is ridiculous.

    I was walking down the street like I just wanted to die. I couldn’t believe this was my life. I knew I was smart, I was pretty, and yet I was accepting this for my fate. I was accepting it. I just couldn’t get over the fact that letting my mom bury an addict, a junkie. What are they going to say about me?

    “Well, she was cool, but now she, you know, just died behind a garbage can.” My mom was waiting for the mortuary to call. Every time an ambulance would come by, she would think it was me. My parents actually moved three hours away from me because they couldn’t say ‘No’ to me anymore. On Christmas Eve, 2013, my parents closed the door in my face on Christmas Eve and told me not to come back.

    We were pretty distant. I called my mom that night at the hospital. I don’t know that I asked for help. I just cried to her like, “I can’t do this anymore.” I hadn’t spoken to her in six months, hadn’t seen my dad in years. I don’t know if it was the desperation in my voice, or what it was, but the next day she agreed to meet me for lunch. When she got there, she called me to come outside.

    I said, “Oh, I’m inside eating,” because that’s what I would do. I’d call my mom when I was hungry, broke, cold, didn’t have anywhere to sleep. Luckily, I had a fix that morning so I was able to go meet her. A lot of times, I didn’t go meet her because I couldn’t find any drugs. Walked outside, and my mom got in the passenger’s side. I knew that was it. I wasn’t going back to the streets, say goodbye.

    My dad has a way with me. It’s not that he’s ever been able to stop me before, but I think I was so desperate that I was willing to take anybody’s advice, you know what I mean? You get to that point where you’re like, “You can’t do it anymore? You don’t know how you’re going to continue?” Literally didn’t know how I was going to make it until tomorrow and keep breathing. I kept doing shots to off myself. I didn’t want to die, but I pretty much was dying.

    My dad looked at me, he said, “You look like shit.” He said, “You have two options. You can either go back to the streets and stop calling us, we don’t want anything to do with you anymore. Or, you can go to treatment.”

    Of course, me being the addict, I had to think about it. Like, “Let me have a cigarette and think about it.” I ended up going. I told my dad I would check myself into jail, because I couldn’t detox in treatment. I didn’t believe it was possible. I could do it jail, even though I’ve gotten high in jail. For some reason I thought …

    The next morning, my parents took me to jail. They got me hotel room. They wouldn’t even let me stay at their house. I stayed in a hotel five minutes away from my parents’ house. That’s how bad it had gotten. I went to turn myself in, and I looked at my mom.

    I said, “They’re going to release me in 24 hours. You guys are going to go home, I’m going to go right back out.”

    She said, “No, we can’t do that.”

    I’m thinking in my head, ‘Okay, I can go to Lakeside-Milam, which is in Tacoma. It’s right down the street from where I kick it. If I want to leave, I can leave, right?’ No, didn’t work out that way. God had a different plan. We go in there, and I’ll never forget it. It was like it was yesterday. I was dope sick. I just hated the world. I was screaming at my dad, for whatever reason, what he did wrong.

    He was trying to help me and I’m screaming at him like, “I’m dope sick. Help me.”

    My dad put a credit card on the table and said, “My daughter’s going to change her mind.” Quickly I went off to Kirkland, Washington. I did 30 days in treatment there. I literally was only doing it to go and to get in good with my parents. They can give me some money, give me a place to live.

    ‘I’ll get clean here for 30 days, then it’ll be really good when I take that first hit.’ I did not believe that you could stay sober. Day 26, I got into Oxford Housing up in Washington. On the way home from the interview, I was looking at places to cop. I called my dad and told him.

    I said, “I’m not ready.”

    He said, “I already booked you a plane ticket.”

    On June 2nd, I flew to Santa Ana. Victoria was standing there with the New Directions sign with my name on it. Went to New Directions, spent 60 days there; and somebody stood up in a meeting and told me that they had seven years sober off heroin. It still gives me chills to think about it, because I didn’t believe that that was possible. I was literally just counting the days. You know when you have that countdown when you’re in treatment?

    “Oh, I have eleven days left, ten days left.” That’s how it was. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it’s that girl speaking, or Phil getting under my skin.

    Or, people telling me “You’re not going to make it. We just, we’re waiting for the phone call because you’ve had so many days clean.” I was meeting people to hook up with when I got out of treatment and just all kinds of bad shit, old behavior. I don’t want to say that I got kicked out of New Directions, because I didn’t. I had gotten everything that I could get from New Directions.

    Phil said, “There’s nothing I can … ” My dad had flown down here to get me into sober living. He happened to be here that night at midnight when Phil decided to let me go. Phil got me into a detox center, because they all thought I had used. I hadn’t, but they’re not going to believe a drug addict.

    I was like, “I’m not even going to say anything. You guys already know that I’m lying, or that I’m going to lie, you know?”

    My dad gave me a ten dollar bill when he dropped me off at \[Pat Moore 00:07:23\] and he said, “You’re on your own. We’re done.” Somehow in that transition, I wanted sobriety. The girl speaking, people telling me that I couldn’t make it, people telling me I was a lost cause.

    People telling me “You’re not worth this.” The money my parents had spent. It’s like a light switch, and I so wish I could flip people’s switches; because sometimes it hurts in my heart. Sobriety is awesome. When that light switch … I started waking up in morning and reading page 64 to 68. When I started reading acceptance, and believing it. When you turn over, where you’re like surrender this to God and know that it’s not … You cannot do it by yourself. You need help. That’s when the miracles start happening.

    For me, it didn’t happen until I had 180 days of treatment. I couldn’t go to 30 days of treatment and be like, “Okay, you’re fixed. You know, go out and kill the world.” I need a lot of … I used for 17 years. It’s not going to happen overnight, and I’m still not the person I want to be. Now my life, it’s amazing. I have people that call me back. I have people that care about what I say. I can drive down the road and be alone and not fear that I’m going to drive into a … buy some drugs.

    When my mom flew down here, I think that was the best gift. There’s lots of gifts of sobriety, but my mom looking at me, and that smile. My parents walk in a lot of fear, obviously. They’re not addicts, so they don’t get it. All they know is what I’ve shown them, which is constant relapse, constant screwing up, constant letting them down. This? This is new. They’re just waiting for that phone call, but then that little bit of faith that they have, that little sparkle.

    My mom’s like, “You just scream, like, that you’re doing good and like, your face … ” I can’t stop smiling. There’s nothing for me to frown about. My mom always told me growing up, “If you have food in your belly, a roof over your head, and two people that care about you, you’re richer than you.” I have a job now. People rely on me to show up. I have a group of sober sisters who would literally drop everything they were doing to come and be there for me, and they have.

    The biggest thing that I would tell people is that you’re going to want to use. You’re going to want to drink. It’s okay, talk about it. That was my biggest fear. I wouldn’t talk about wanting to get high. I never would talk about it.

    When I meet newcomers, I’m like, “Talk about it, because people need to know that you’re struggling; because the struggle is the strength. And every time you make it through those struggles … ” My mom thinks it’s crazy because I’ve been … Drugs have come across my path since I got sober.

    She’s like, “I don’t get it. I’m 65 and they’ve never crossed my path.”

    I’m like, “Well, you get … ”

    \[Mara Lee 00:10:09\] would tell me, “Whatever you put out, you get back.” That drug addict is still very active in me, and so it still puts out that energy; so of course it’s going to come back. Every time that I say ‘no’ to it, I have that much more strength for the next time it comes in my path.

    I have seven months. I’m 34 years old. It’s the best seven months of my life. I can honestly say I don’t remember anything before 14. I don’t remember sobriety, because I was like a kid. I really wish somebody had stopped me sooner, but I don’t think that I would have. I wouldn’t have listened. If I don’t know how to do … I don’t know how to do a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff. I call my sponsor at least three times a day.

    Putting the drug down is the easiest part of this. Stopping, walking away from a drink, walking away from the drugs, that’s the easy part. The emotional sobriety is the hardest thing that I have, because being honest with myself and other people, making amends for shit you did wrong. That’s hard. I’ve always heard people, they go back out after the fourth step. Yeah, it’s a hard step, to admit you’re wrong and then to tell somebody else about it. It’s hard. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of. Releasing it and talking about it, it’s almost … You get relief from it.

    I know that by not doing those things anymore, I’m a better person because of that. I try to live my life like that. There’s a couple people out there that I’ll never be able to make amends to; so I have to be a better person maybe stop somebody else from doing things that I did. That’s how I look at it. I always raise my hand in meetings because that’s how my life got saved. If that woman wouldn’t have spoken up, I don’t know where I would be.

    I don’t know where I would be if New Directions hadn’t done what they did. Forever in my heart, the planets aligned for my treatment. The planets aligned. God knew that I had to do 30 days in Washington, because I would have never accepted 90 days. We all know I needed 90 days, but I would have never gone. I would have left, because it would have been too big for me. I did 30 days here, 60 days here. It all worked out. Everything worked out for a reason. Everything I did, everything I’ve been through.

    My parents turned their back on me. I’m 34. My mom never, ever has turned her back on me. I was on the streets, doing God knows what, and she still would call me and tell me she loved me. For those 30 days at Pat Moore, my mom didn’t speak to me at all. She would not take my phone calls, nothing. I’m sure she called to make sure I was still there. I’m almost guessing, but she didn’t talk to me.

    She was like, “No, you have to do this on your own.” I’ve never had to do that. Everything worked out and the gift of walking into places and people who saw me in treatment and didn’t think I’d make it, it’s worth it. I sometimes do it for …

    I just have so many people to prove wrong, because everybody I met in my path is always like, “You’ll never make it.” Yeah, I just wish that I hadn’t figured this out ten years ago; but then I get to share my story with people. I live in sober living right now. I’m second oldest person in the house.

    I get to show those people, “Listen, if you keep doing that, you’re going to be 34 living in sober living. Not cute, right? Yes, that’s what I need, but it’s not cute. Like do this shit when you’re 21, 22, so you have your whole life. I have like, I have felonies. I’ll have a hard time getting an apartment, a job, anything.” If I can save one person from walking down that path and getting this bad.

    I’d tell people, “It’s not if, it’s when. Yeah, you might not have sold your body yet, but you will. You might not have gone to jail, but you will.” All my experiences made me, and I think that God let me walk through them so that I could help people with it. God knew I could handle it. I was strong enough. I wouldn’t change my past for anything, because I feel like super special to be able to be a part of this program. Yeah. That’s all I got. Monica, alcoholic.
    Speaker 1: If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, please call our caring admissions counselors today at 1-800-93-women. That’s 1-800-939-6636.

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