Readers share their stories of drug addiction

By on June 21, 2016

The following two letters were submitted by local readers. Their names have been removed to protect the families involved:

Letter No. 1.

Janice, this is my story. I need to share it.

I was adopted at the age of one month old. I state this because I find it interesting how many people I have met over the years of active addiction and recovery that start their stories with those same three words: “I was adopted.” It was a hard concept for me to wrap my head around while I was growing up. I was raised in Lancaster County by the most beautiful parents in the world. No matter how hard they tried to give me the “perfect” life, they could not erase the feelings of abandonment and rejection that being adopted left me with. I was left with a void that I could not fill.

At the age of 20, I was put on Percocet and Demerol for an illness. I immediately fell in love with the way I felt after taking these pills. The void was filled. I felt like I could conquer the world. I didn’t realize at the time that I was flirting with the devil and soon to become his slave. The doctor realized after some time that I was abusing the pills and cut me off. I spent the next few years driving from county to county, state to state, going to emergency rooms and doctor appointments just to get enough pills to keep me from getting sick. That “wonderful” feeling that I first felt was long gone. I was no longer taking pills to get high. I was taking them to avoid the painful withdrawals my body would go through when I didn’t have enough pills. I began stealing prescription pads and forging scripts. A script of 100 pills would only last me two days. That may seem extreme, but after I kept taking pills, my body demanded more and I had to keep increasing my dose or else I would be physically sick.

After my first arrest, my family and I decided that it was best if I went to detox and rehab. I, of course, felt as though I didn’t belong in a detox with a bunch of junkies. I was appalled when the counselor referred to me as a “junkie.” I stayed in that rehab for 30 days, and while I was there I met someone who was also from Lancaster County. We went home the same day and he explained to me that I was going through way too much trouble to “get high.” I went home with him and shot heroin for the first time. I then realized that I was a junkie long before I was introduced to the needle.

I spent the next 11 years shooting heroin in any vein I could find. I was in and out of many treatments centers and detox units. For the first few years I had great enablers, my parents. I was stealing from my family! I had turned into my own worst nightmare. I started going to jail and that became a revolving door for a period of time. My mom went to counseling to learn how to deal with me, and that was a turning point for me. It didn’t seem like it was at the time, but it was. I would have never believed that my parents would ever kick me out of their home. I would have never believed that my parents would have ever turned me in to my parole officer to get me put in jail, but they did. This helped me reach my bottom.

I became homeless and was living on the streets of Lancaster. Those people you see standing on the corners with signs; that was me. My existence became waiting for daylight to figure out what hustle I was going to use that day to earn the $250/day I needed to support my habit. Then I would cop enough drugs to keep from being sick. I would wait for morning to come and do it all over again. I remember begging God to take me. It was a horrible way to live. I used to watch people driving to work in the mornings and cry, wishing I could have a “normal” life.

I am happy to report that I am now one of those people driving to work every morning. After countless detox facilities, rehabs, hospitals, and jails I finally reached my bottom. I recommitted my life to God and got clean 15 years ago.

I have since gone to college and earned my bachelor’s degree in network administration. I am in the process of applying for a pardon from the governor for my felony charges so that I can move further in my career. I have been blessed by God and thank Him every single day for keeping me clean. It is only through the grace of God that I am alive and able to write this to you!

Thank you for writing the articles you are writing. So much needs done to help fight this disease of addiction. Awareness is a big step.

Letter No. 2

We live on the outskirts of Lititz. I have read all your articles and can so identify with all of your stories. I am hoping all parents read them also.
My daughter, years ago, was addicted to pain medications from a doctor for a severe illness. You know after a while of being on the pain medications, the body wants something more and better. As parents, or I should say me as the mother, who was co-dependent, became addicted to her addiction. The addicts are very good at manipulations and lies. It was only after some very deep counseling that I had finally learned the word “no.”

“No” is one of the hardest words in this situation. After several jail times and lots of rehabs, not letting her come home anymore, street living and half-way houses, by the grace of God she was set free from the hands of heroin.

Just wanted to let you know how much the articles have helped, and they are so interesting and real. Keep up the good work, because heroin is so at-hand, and some parents are closing their eyes to the epidemic and saying my child would not do that because he or she comes from a good home. Hello! An addict does not grow up from being little and saying “when I grow up I want to be a drug addict.” Only the grace of God can carry the both of you through this painful experience, and it does destroy or affect the whole family.
SupportMembers ASAP

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One Comment

  1. Janice Ballenger

    June 24, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Thank you so very much to all who have been sharing their stories with me. Many, as this one, are so sad. Please try to get your loved ones help. Have them learn the tools they need to use to overcome this horrific disease. Thank you again and please keep sharing your stories. Others need to know they are not alone.

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