My name is Amber and I’m a person in recovery. I was 13 years old when I became addicted. I’ve always been the black sheep of my family. I felt like an outcast growing up and still sometimes do, when it comes to the way certain family members treat me. They don’t understand that addiction is not a choice. Nobody wants to be an “addict.”

Addiction runs deep in my family. I grew up loving people with substance use disorder, both in and out of my family. My mother suffers from alcoholism, addiction, and many other mental illnesses. As a result of her disease, my sisters and I were raised by other members of my family. My mother was abusive. From what I remember, she was rarely sober when I was a child. I never understood why she was so violent and why she didn’t want us in her life.

Then, God did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He put my aunt in my life and she raised us as best she could. My uncle, who was my father figure since I’d never met my biological father, got very ill when I was 13. He had a stroke, and my family blamed it on me. At the time, I didn’t understand what a stroke was. I didn’t know that nobody could cause one. I internalized what my family said and believed them. I blamed myself, too. This created a rift in my family dynamic.

I started drinking heavily and was a blackout drinker from the start. I also smoked marijuana every day as well. My behaviors spiraled out of control and I became very rebellious and promiscuous. I didn’t know that I was using drugs and sex as a coping mechanism.

My addiction progressed. When I was 18, I was introduced to crack cocaine and opiates. I was addicted to cocaine for two years before I met the man who is the father of my children. I got pregnant two months into our relationship and by the grace of God, I was able to stop using for my entire pregnancy.

Shortly after I gave birth, my substance use disorder resurfaced. I became addicted to painkillers that the doctor prescribed me while I was recovering from childbirth. I used almost every day. Then, when my oldest child was two, we learned that I was pregnant again.

Again, by the grace of God I was able to stop using drugs for another nine months. After giving birth to my second child, I was prescribed to painkillers again. This time, my addiction really took off.

I was “functioning,” which means I lived in denial of my problem and the severity of it. In 2014, I was introduced to heroin and began using it every day. I went to treatment in 2016 after intravenously using heroin for four months.

I was able to stay abstinent, but after four months, my children were removed from my care because my counselor made false accusations to Child Protective Services. I relapsed shortly after my children were taken away.

Since then, I have completed quite a few treatments and have learned a lot about my disease.

I am still fighting to get my children back. Today, I am proud to say that I am abstinent and in recovery, which is a miracle and a blessing.

My children have suffered tremendously because of my addiction and so has my family, but my babies have never stopped believing in me. Some days, that is what keeps me going when nothing else can. God has truly blessed me and continues to do so every day.

I have come to realize that I am not a bad mother but a sick mother and I will never give up fighting for my children or to overcome my addiction.

There is hope for us that are addicted, as well as our families. Never lose hope. My life is changing thanks to the grace of God and I am forever grateful.

If you have a loved one that is battling addiction, I urge you to never give up on them. There is hope. If you are fighting for your children, don’t give up. You can do this! To everyone out there that is fighting, keep going!

The lie is dead! We do recover.