The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.
I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room ﬂoor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control.
Who knew that one instant messenger conversation would be able to change my life forever. During my senior year I met this Super cute and fun kid a few years older than I was. I lied to my mother and went to his house to meet him for the ﬁrst time. I was so drunk, and so in love. Not too many months later, he started to bring drugs around. I knew nothing about this world but wanted to ﬁt in.
The ﬁrst drug I tried was Cocaine it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Drugs were okay; I could handle it.
Then I was introduced to Heroin. I hated it, I spent so much time throwing up. I couldn’t even go out to party and have fun.
Finally, when I went off to live at college in Providence, RI I was able to make my own choices and get away from the drugs. I would be able to go back to drinking socially and be like all the other college freshmen.
Sadly, I was never able to live that normal college experience. During my ﬁrst weekend at school my boyfriend came down to visit me. He showed up hours after he said he would. I knew something was wrong, I could see it in his eyes. He told me to ask around and ﬁnd him crack; he was ﬁending. I had never seen someone like that, it scared me. I wanted a fresh start and thought he would just sleep it off, so I refused; I did not want to be “THAT” girl. The way his demeanor changed so quickly was a complete shock. Before I knew it, he had me thrown against the wall choking me. When he let go, I fell to the ground and he grabbed my car keys and ran out to steal my car. I chased after him, when I caught up with him the fear sank in. I was not going to make it away from him alive. I ended up with broken bones and bruises all over. Finally, in a last attempt to save my life I ran to the campus police. An ambulance was there within minutes to bring me to the hospital. I remember to this day, begging him to forgive me for going to the police. The ofﬁcer look me in the eyes and said, ‘He is not sorry for what he did to you!’ My mom received the ﬁrst of many calls in the middle of the night hysterically crying. I was ﬁnally able to break away from him many months later when I met my future husband. I stayed clean and chose to not even drink mostly.
I suffered from PTSD. In order to leave my house for a task as simple as buying cigarettes my husband had to drive me. That lasted for just under 2 years. The only way I was able to ﬁnd any safety from my thoughts and feelings was when I picked up that ﬁrst pain killer at age 19. The obsession and need began right away. In that sense my life was unmanageable the second I put a mind altering substance into my body. On the outside my life seemed better than ever. I gained a false sense of security and power. I continued to maintain the facade for quite a few years. Work, school, and pain killers. Right before I was to begin my semester of student teaching, my addiction took over completely. I was not even able to show up at school, either I was too sick or too high. Opiates began showing their true colors. There was only one logical solution I could see. My husband and I had to move away from Massachusetts. Two weeks later we packed up the car and drove 3,000 miles to our new home in Reno, Nevada. I tried to hold it together, and put on the same good front. It became harder and harder to come across money, although I was making more than ever before. All I could do was to begin to lie, cheat, and steal. The great idea I had to move to Reno soon became my worst nightmare. Painkillers became too expensive so quickly. Heroin became the only answer to any of my problems. At this point the police were involved in my life for the ﬁrst time. I couldn’t believe this is what my life had become! I was supposed to be teaching, I should be a mother, now I am checking into my ﬁrst rehab to avoid arrest!!
I felt good, I had a month clean, I fell in love, I had this. Nothing was ever going to stop me! I cleaned up and it seemed logical that I could use once in a while. As long as I don’t get sick I’ll be ﬁne. I got a new place to live with my boyfriend I met in rehab; we were just going to control ourselves.!
This run was the game changer. I picked up a needle a few months after rehab. On everything, that was the last time I was ever going to touch heroin. The tie came off, all I could say was, “That was the greatest feeling EVER!” By the time I had ﬁnished that sentence my life was completely out of control. We lost our apartment because we spent every dime to ﬁll that obsession of more. Sleeping at whichever friend’s house would let us in that night. Arrest after arrest, as hard as I tried I couldn’t control it. I was hopeless.
I knew for a fact I was going to die a ‘junkie’ and at that time it didn’t even scare me. My boyfriend and I ran for another year. Back and forth across the country, running from warrants. We ran out of friends to stay with. There were two options; sleep in a park or playground, or smoke meth so we don’t need to sleep. All I knew or cared about in this world was my boyfriend, heroin, meth, and how we would get more. Guys would stop on the road, ask me if I was working, how much? That option seemed like a good idea many times. My boyfriend always talked me out of it, and came up with a way for us to get well. Never yet have I had to sleep with anyone for money.
One morning after countless sleepless nights; we were awoken in a park by a Reno police ofﬁcer. He gave us one more chance and said he would arrest us if he ever saw us again. I honestly had given up, I had no care in the world what happened to me. My boyfriend called my mother and begged for her to bring me home to Massachusetts. I was so mad, I would not leave him alone on the streets. My mom got us train tickets again to try it one more time. This three day train ride was the worst! We decided to detox on the train so when we made it to Massachusetts we could stay clean. Still sick and trying with the absolute last bit of hope I had within me, I called detox’s around my area. No one would even give me the time of day without the proper state insurance. I
couldn’t be sick anymore, I only knew one way to feel better. We went and picked up. In my cloudy, sick, addicted mind the only person that cared about us was our dealer. We bought ten bags, by doing this we lost the last bit of support we had left in this world. Although we carried Narcan, with those ten bags, we ran out. We continued to do the heroin we had. I never thought, “Oh, this shit is good, I need to get more.” I just knew there was nothing else in this world for me. After waking up from an overdose, ﬁnding my boyfriend face down on the ground, I was able to bring him back that time. We had one bag left and nothing to bring us back if we went out again. All I knew was I wanted this pain to end. I was poison; I didn’t have the strength within me to believe in myself. I ruined everything, my family would be better off without me. There was no version of up from where we were, and there was no more room to dig a deeper bottom. It wasn’t a choice we made, this was it, this feeling was rock bottom. I could ﬁnally stop running, ﬁghting, dying inside. All we had to do was walk a half mile to a park where we could just be alone. ! During this short walk came our ﬁnal arrest in August of 2015
When the cop pulled over and put cuffs on him, I set my purse down and took that ﬁrst breath of fresh air in years. We were walking to a park to do the rest of our heroin and take a handful of Xanax. We tried to ﬁght it, no detox would accept us without the proper state insurance. I didn’t know how to stop hurting everyone I loved. I was poison, they had everything to live for, I would only continue to bring them down. From an overdose I had just the day before, I knew it wouldn’t hurt, the pain would just slip away. My family would be able to move on and stop worrying about me. I couldn’t see any version of up from where we were, and there was no more room to dig a deeper bottom. This was it, I could ﬁnally stop running,ﬁghting, and dying inside. We were on our way to go die together.
A letter from my boyfriend while in jail read, ‘We were so close to the edge, I didn’t want to die but I didn’t know how to stop.’ We spent just under three months in jail. I got out into a program, with a two year probation. He told me I can do it, and that I was meant for better things. He got probation, but was sent back to Nevada. I cried my eyes out. The ﬁrst thing I said through my tears, “He’s going to die!”
He promised he would never leave me and he would always be just one phone call away. On March 2, 2016 he broke that promise. I sent a text to him that will never receive a response. I will never hear his voice again. After 6 months clean, he picked up one more time. He left me alone and scared. He thought he could control the heroin, when really heroin controlled him. By the grace of God, I was able to go say goodbye at his funeral. I couldn’t do this without him, I didn’t know how to even live without him.
I had a choice in front of me, either give up and tell him he was wrong about me, or continue to ﬁght the one thing to which I lost everything.
I chose to ﬁght!
I chose to refuse heroin any more pieces of my precious life!
Today I am able to make the choice to not pick up a drink or a drug. I use my experience and his memory to help others struggling with addiction.
The world lost an amazing man, but I gained a guardian angel. He will be forever 25, with a smile that brightens the stars. I couldn’t have done this without him, I will be forever grateful for the two years we spent together and everything he taught me during that time.
As an addict, I have been judged and talked down to by many, but no one is able to hurt me as much as I have been able to hurt myself. My self-respect and love for myself are ﬁnally beginning to grow.
Treat every person with respect, you have no idea what battles and demons they are ﬁghting at that moment. Look at the person behind the addiction! Otherwise you will miss out on some of the worlds greatest people. !!!
IF LOVE COULD’VE SAVED YOU…!!!!
YOU WOULD’VE LIVED FOREVER. !!!!!
R.I.P. Andrew Torres
1990 – 2016
Lost in Plain Sight
Robin Lamontagne is 27 years old and now lives in Bellingham, Massachusetts. Although she spent most of her adult life moving around the country she is now back home with her mother and kitten. Growing up Robin loved to dance and work with young children. Her dream was always to become a math teacher. She will soon be returning to school to complete her degree and other certifications. By using her experience, strength, and hope she tries to help others struggling with addiction, as well as their loved ones. She has worked with her sponsor to become a woman in recovery carrying herself with dignity and grace. With the love and support of her recovery network, Robin was just able to celebrate 1 year in recovery with family and friends!