12/16/20: I would like to introduce Brittani Lucas. She was our guest speaker during EYFP Session #4. She shared her testimony with our caregivers and spoke from the heart about her experiences with opioid and drug addiction. Her testimony was simultaneously eye-opening, sobering, and inspiring. The following is her summary of her story, of how she fell into the trap of addiction and made her way out of the grip of drug misuse.
My name is Brittani Lucas. Originally from upstate New York, I was raised in suburban Virginia. I am the oldest of 6 children, all born to my happily married parents. My parents were quite young when they started having kids, and thus went through the process of growing up simultaneously with me. They did the absolute best they could to be the best parents they could be, and at the time that meant pushing me to be the best I could be. I was a very smart kid, talented, creative, kind, and loving. My parents tried to empower those strengths in me, but I was too smart for my own good, and my sweet, humble, young candor swiftly switched to that of arrogance, ego, and pomposity. When I was a teenager, I knew better than anyone else, quickly going from an A student, to a B student, to a C student… truly believing I could smoke weed and drink and never study and still come out on top.
I did end up graduating and moving on to college, moving out of my parents home when I was 18. My first struggle with addiction was here in the form of xanax, marijuana, and daily binge drinking. I drank all day and all night, was dirt poor, and lost my job. I didn’t realize then that I was an addict. I kept trucking along, moving in and out of my parents home, developing a cocaine habit, consistently binge drinking. When I moved to Richmond, Virginia my life took a turn for the worse. I was addicted to opioids, but still thought I was better, stronger, and smarter than the drugs. Before I moved back home at 25 I was homeless, jobless, and completed addicted to heroin, crack cocaine, and meth amphetamines. I thought to myself “if I could just stop using heroin I will be ok”. I continued to use the other drugs, and drown myself in bourbon daily. After 4 “proud” heroin-free months, I went back to my drug of choice and was doomed. The velocity at which I was right back to homeless and jobless was a force to be reckoned with. I was completely hopeless, I realized inside that I was, in fact, NOT stronger than the drugs, and had come to peace with being nothing, going nowhere, and dying in an opioid haze. I had lost all of my friends, my family was so heart broken and disappointed they hardly spoke to me, and I had lost the respect of everyone around me: including myself.
I finally begged my dad one last time to give me a roof over my head… he said under one condition: I had to apply to a rehab in North Carolina. I agreed and went home for the last time. Less than a week later I was on my way to a two year residential program. My time spent in this program was tumultuous. I learned early on that I was angry. I was resentful that I was expected to live up to an image my parents created of me. I was resentful that i couldn’t live up to that expectation. I hated everyone around me, and i hated myself for not being good enough to prove them wrong. I had to fight through that anger and learn that it was a secondary emotion to my root feelings. I was hurt, lonely, scared. I didn’t know who I was or who I was supposed to be! I had no goals, I had no skills, and I was terrified of what a future looked like for me. All I knew was what my parents expected me to be, and drugs. I eventually started to learn about myself. My interests, my dreams, my hope’s, my desires, who I was and who I wanted to be! I found a group of women who shared this journey of self-rediscovery. We were all different, but not unique. We had the same end goal: to survive.
When I felt confident in my recovery and my life, I decided to move on from the program. I started creating the life I wanted. I was fortunate enough to retain the sense of community I found in the program and keep these women close to me today. I seek my own peace and happiness, and I learned to breathe through it all. I have to work on the lessons I learned in my program every day. I find gratitude in the little things, I’m mindful of expectations placed on myself and others, I don’t let uncomfortable feelings fuel anger in me, and I speak on my emotions and respect my own choices today. I am proud of the woman I have become and continue to become every day. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story with others because if my experiences can help even one person in this world, then it has all been worth it.