No one chooses to become addicted, and there are many reasons why people use and abuse substances. It doesn’t take long to reach rock-bottom – losing everything, including your children and your health.  Rachelle, a patient at Therapeutic Health Service’s Snohomish/Everett Branch, never imagined she’d lose her life to addiction, but she almost did.

A Challenging Diagnosis

Rachelle was diagnosed with cancer at age 25. A diagnosis that shocked her and stopped her from living her best life. As a mother of a young child and a young adult herself, Rachelle had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Working as a truck dispatcher and no stranger to hard work, Rachelle knew how to juggle priorities, but she couldn’t do it all. Rachelle turned to using cocaine to get through the day, to help her stay awake and remain focused. She felt she needed it to handle the stresses of being a single mother, a cancer patient, and working full-time. Soon cocaine wasn’t enough, and she started using heroin. Everything went downhill fast after that.

Heroin’s Effects on the Brain

According to SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,

“Heroin use alters brain circuits that control reward, stress, decision-making, and impulse control, making it more difficult to stop using even when it is having negative effects on your life and health. Frequent use also can lead to tolerance and withdrawal, so you need more of the drug just to feel normal.”

SAMSHA “Tips for Teens – Heroin”

Even though Rachelle knew heroin was hurting her mind, body, and relationships, it was incredibly difficult to stop. Rachelle didn’t want to use, but withdrawal kept her from quitting. She was rapidly losing everything; her home, her car, and soon her son.

Losing her Son

Not long after becoming addicted to heroin, Rachelle’s 5-year-old son was taken from her. She continued to spiral out of control. “At that point, the thought of losing everything that I’ve ever loved, I just was doing anything and everything to numb that pain. It was hard, it was super hard” said Rachelle.

Turning Point

In a few years she and her boyfriend (who was also addicted), became pregnant.  Five months into her pregnancy she realized it was time to quit. Time to get her life back together and put a stop to the pattern of addiction that had held her down for the last three years. Rachelle said, “I got pregnant, which was an eye-opener ‘cause I couldn’t imagine losing another child at that point. That was my motivation to get clean.”

 Rachelle was contacted and referred into service at THS.

“Basically, I came in here, bawled my eyes out, laid it all out on the table. I mean it was rock-bottom for me. I wouldn’t be able to live through having another child yanked from my hands. I was doing anything and everything to support my habit: stealing, car theft, the whole bit. I was at the worst time in my life…This place saved me.”

– Rachelle

Working Hard for Recovery

Rachelle worked incredibly hard when she entered treatment. She was determined to end her addiction and recover what she’d lost. Rachelle offered an ultimatum to her boyfriend, either he joined her in treatment, or he had to go. Her boyfriend entered treatment one month behind her and they’ve both been clean since then.

Rachelle and her boyfriend, now fiancé, are both 5 years clean. Their baby was born healthy and Rachelle now sees her eldest son every other weekend. They even have a new baby on the way! Together with her fiancé, they are working on buying a house with room for their whole family.

Reflecting on Success

Joy Jack, Rachelle’s counselor had this to say, “Working with Rachelle has been a really rewarding experience for me, because many people who come to our program are not as successful and don’t know what they want when they get here. Rachelle was somebody who did have that focus on making recovery her priority.” Joy later added that she was incredibly proud of Rachelle, her fiancé, and all the hard work the two had put into their recovery.

Rachelle’s life is now back on track. Reflecting on her life now she said, “I have my kids now and that’s everything to me, that makes me rich in myself. I’m happy with life now and today. I can’t really ask for more. I’m pretty blessed.”

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