Anyone who has ever been physically addicted to an opiate knows – once it’s on, it’s on. My entire life became about chasing heroin.

In my late teens and early twenties, a series of events in my life led me to fall into a deep, deep sadness. I was paralyzed with grief – it hurt to breathe.  I was in so much emotional turmoil and anguish.

I had once been a star student and a young leader in my community. I was an award-winning debater and proud academic scholar – headed to an elite university in Washington, D.C. A few things happened in my personal life and I lost it. I mean, I really lost it. I gave up completely on every dream I had ever had. 

I did not yet have the tools to process my emotions, so I started looking outside of myself for solutions. Eventually, I found drugs and alcohol. Initially, drinking and doing drugs really worked. They stopped the pain; they stopped the sadness. That became my solution for nearly fifteen years. Over time, though, the drugs got harder and the consequences more severe. I ended up homeless and strung out on heroin for the last several years of my active addiction. 

Anyone who has ever been physically addicted to an opiate knows – once it’s on, it’s on. My entire life became about chasing heroin. I chased heroin into horrible neighborhoods, into dangerous situations, into jail, into hospitals. I was well on my way to chasing heroin into death.

Then something miraculous happened.

I chased heroin into recovery.

Through the process of recovery, which for me involves twelve step meetings, sponsorship, service, and physical exercise, I haven’t just found myself again. I have found a much better version of myself. I found an evolution of myself that I don’t believe I would have ever become without my addiction. I am kinder, stronger, and smarter. Recovery gave me a spiritual life that involves principles of service that I know I would have never made a priority. That girl in high school, who had so much promise, doesn’t have anything on the woman I became – as a direct result of my addiction.

I became the heroine of my own story.

Story by Jeannine Coulter

2 replies on “JEANNINE COULTER”

You are very fortunate. My son had a similar story combined with much success. Unfortunately, in 2012 there were little resources and support to see him through and he lost his battle. A battle that began with prescribed medication. It will be ten years this coming June yet it seems like yesterday. The effect on family has been devastating. Please consider to share your story and advocate for those in need. Just tonight, I heard of another rash of “spring break” overdoses. The Opioid Epidemic continues and is effected by politics and attacks the vulnerable.

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