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‘I overdosed. I woke up on the ground to paramedics and my mom in my face. I had failed at getting high. I no longer had any heroin.’
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“Thinking back on my childhood brings so many pleasant memories. My mother instilled the very meaning of life in me and one day I will do the same for my child. I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by an amazing family, and for that I am forever grateful. I call Washington state my home, but we moved to North Dakota in 2002 after my grandpa passed away. At age 14 I smoked weed for the first time and finally discovered what all the hype was about. I continued to smoke after that. By 15, I had become an extremely reliable employee and enjoyed going to work! But once I hit high school I began experimenting with ecstasy and really anything else that was readily available. I loved the feeling I got when I was high. At that time, nothing else provided such a pure form of total happiness. It was scary how much I enjoyed altering my reality. I found myself pre-planning my next high while in school, sneaking out once my mom had fallen asleep, and lying about what I was doing. I struggled with self-image issues all throughout high school and using drugs definitely helped mask those feelings. I continued to use and progressed onto other things like downers and uppers, and eventually pain killers. I didn’t see anything wrong with dabbling considering I had held a job down since I was 14 and my bills were paid. By this time, I had also become the middle man. I knew all the right people. This is where it all began for me — my addiction to the lifestyle itself, on top of the drugs. I could always get whatever people wanted and it was empowering. I was in control.


Breanne Niles

A year or two after I graduated high school, my dabbling had turned into a few times a week, but I still saw nothing wrong with it. The Benzos relaxed me when I was feeling anxious, and the uppers gave me energy when I was dragging from the night before. As far as the weed goes, it was just normal for my friends and me. Throughout all this using I always told myself I’d never touch 2 things: heroin and meth. Why? Because they carry the worst reputation, of course. I could never picture myself ever touching those substances. I was still a functioning member of society.


By 21, I was using painkillers extremely often, if not every day. I began to notice weight loss immediately, and it was so rewarding! I never realized how thin I was. I always saw something wrong with me or thought something could be better, so I ignored how sick I looked and continued to destroy myself. I never had to feel anything or deal with conflict. I could get high instead, and sweep all my inner issues under the rug. I remember being extremely angry at everything whenever I didn’t have any drugs. I always found reasons to fight with my mom or anyone for that matter for the simple fact that I was ornery. This wasn’t who I was. At this time my paychecks weren’t lasting as long as they should’ve been and my motivation to conquer life was slowly declining. I was losing touch with my inner self more and more as each day passed.


Breanne Niles

When I discovered that meth was basically an everlasting form of Adderall, I didn’t think twice about the consequences. I was hooked after smoking it for the first time. I literally could not get enough of it. Some of my darkest days have derived from that drug. I was introduced to heroin around the same time because the town had run dry of painkillers and the new thing was H. Again, I was instantly hooked. It was the ultimate opiate. Everything I had ever been searching for in painkillers. I didn’t have to crush any pills up, I just had to smoke it. The high was instant, and nothing short of euphoric. I was in love. Everybody I was choosing to surround myself with always had whatever I needed which in turn fueled my addiction to the fullest. My love for heroin sparked a strange romance with constantly running drugs and I became someone people could count on whenever they needed something. I was constantly making drug runs whenever I had free time, regardless of whether or not I had to work the next day. After consistently smoking meth for a few months I began to hallucinate due to being up for so many hours. This would even happen while driving sometimes. I also started to pick at my face. My once beautiful skin had turned to a scaly mess. My mom would ask me what was going on with it and I would lie and tell her I had a reaction to a new facial cleanser. I had become so convincing. I believed my own lies. People I worked with thought I had the chicken pox because of all the scabs. I carried a tremendous amount of shame with me everywhere because of this. I remember falling asleep in my car on break at work while smoking a cigarette and thinking nothing of it. I was just tired and needed more stimulants to get through my work day. I was no longer reliable, I was leaving work early every chance I had, and taking advantage of my family members to support my habit came naturally by this time. Although I felt a substantial amount of guilt each time I accepted money from them, I continued to take it because I needed it to stay sane. I needed it to function and leave my house.


Breanne Niles

One day I walked out on my job because I had this fear of being fired when in reality, it was paranoia. In the months leading up to this point I had been continuously late a few times a week and my work ethic was questionable. A few weeks later I underwent a chemical dependency evaluation to determine whether or not I needed inpatient treatment. Shortly after, I completed 12 weeks of a step-based program and life was great. While I was in treatment, I took pride in the fact I had yet to get arrested or lose everything I had worked so hard for. I felt like my old self was slowly being restored. My mind was no longer foggy, and I had support pouring in from all angles. My old job was even giving me a second chance, everything was working out how it was supposed to. Deep down I knew I wasn’t ready to change, though. Nothing had clicked yet. I still had everything, my car, a roof over my head, no debt, and my job. It was only a matter of time before I was back to using.


My circle began to expand and I was constantly meeting new connects with better prices. I picked up right where I left off and gained more power at the same time. I was never home. I was always in my car running from one place to the next. I was money hungry and my need to be in control was taking over more each day. At age 23, I began intravenous drug use which came as a shock because I was deathly afraid of needles. I remember that first night like it was yesterday. I was staying at a hotel for some reason, probably because I had gotten myself kicked out of the house due to my actions. I had just spent a majority of my tax return on drugs and this hotel room. Smart. My friend had a clean needle and offered to do it for me, and just like that, I shot up meth for the very first time. My entire world flipped upside down. I’m getting the same sensation writing this as I did when he pushed the plunger further and the clear liquid dispersed into my vein. A part of me is sad because I can feel what I felt at that moment, but I’m not high. It’s almost as if my body is waiting for that sensation to take over one more time.


After that my behavior got more reckless than usual and I wasn’t as cautious of those I was surrounding myself with. I was giving an acquaintance a ride one evening when we got pulled over. Little did I know he had a warrant out for his arrest which was probable cause for my vehicle to be searched. That night I was charged with 3 felonies. All possession charges – Meth, Heroin and Xanax. I went to jail, got out the following Monday and failed to comply with my drug tests which resulted in an active warrant for my arrest. By this time the cops around town knew who I was. I was definitely on their radar. I was always at different hotels with different people. I didn’t have a home. I would go weeks without talking to my family but every now and then I would send my mom a message whenever I was somewhere that had wi-fi just to let her know that I was okay. She knew what I was doing, she knew her daughter was slowly killing herself and there was nothing she could do about it. She did the right thing and filed a committal. My location was discovered, and I was arrested for the second time a month later. This time I sat in county jail for 3 months until I could get into the same treatment facility I had previously been at.


Breanne Niles

I completed another 12 weeks of higher level treatment and started probation shortly after. I had the same counselor the second time around and boy did she love to make a shining example out of me because here I was again, 4 months later with 3 fresh felonies. I even made the decision to stay in treatment a little longer than suggested because I didn’t feel quite ready to venture off yet. The real world was scary. And meetings freaked me out. I was able to come back home to my mom’s and our relationship was slowly rebuilding itself one baby step at a time. I immediately got Xanax prescribed once I was out of treatment because I had met a girl in county who gave me the name of a doctor who was notorious for prescribing them. My anxiety was still extremely overpowering and I was not willing to try anything else to cope with it. I had tried everything that couldn’t be abused while I was in treatment. This was my only option if I wanted to succeed and get past all the fears my anxiety caused.


The same day I got that prescription I made the decision to contact old friends who were not on the same path as me. I was 4 months clean for the second time when I decided I could handle hanging out with my old crew again. They would respect my sobriety, right? I stayed up all night strung out, knowing I had a psyche appointment the following morning. On my way home I got a phone call saying there was some H available. Perfect. I could use that to come down and be mellow by the time I had my appointment. I grabbed some and went home. By this time it was 9 a.m., I loaded up the same amount that I normally would, not thinking about the fact I had been up all night AND my body no longer had a tolerance. My mom kept calling me. I had her vehicle, mine had just been repossessed. How was I going to tell her that I missed my appointment because I had been up all night using? I ignored her calls. The next few moments are blurry. I remember doing the shot and then waking up on the ground. I couldn’t get up though. Gravity was pulling me further into the earth and I couldn’t breathe. There was a heaviness on my chest unlike anything I had ever experienced. Next thing I know, I’m waking up to paramedics in my face as well as my mom. I overdosed. Narcan saved my life. If my mom had gotten home 5 minutes later it would’ve been too late. I would’ve been gone. Something told her she needed to walk home from work the very moment I didn’t answer her calls. Someone was looking out for me; it wasn’t my time to go. I stayed in the hospital a little while and woke up very angry at everything. I had failed at getting high. Forget that I had just died. I was focused on the fact I no longer had any heroin. This was insanity at its finest, because I continued to use knowing I had literally just died from the exact thing I was polluting my body with.


I failed almost every single urine analysis I had during the month and half I was on probation. At my last appointment with my probation officer, she told me she was sending me to jail until there was a bed ready for me at a treatment facility. I fought her every way possible. I had heard things about this place, everybody basically went there for drugs. I didn’t last long. I woke up in prison on my 25th birthday, granted I only spent a month there due to overcrowding. Next thing I know I’m on transport to the state hospital for my 4th round of treatment. At this point I had been away from my family for 9 months. I had no choice but to reflect on what my life had become.


I completed treatment in September 2017, and everything I had learned stuck with me. When I got home things were different. I was eager to embrace the world and my fears had subsided. I realized I had finally hit rock bottom and right now was the beginning of my next chapter. I re-applied at a different location of the same company I had previously walked out on. I was given another chance!


Breanne Niles

Breanne Niles

Each day that I wake up I’m  thankful for being given another chance at life. Not every addict has the opportunity to experience that. I am just beginning to find myself for the very first time, and it is indescribable. On the 25th of June I celebrated 18 amazing months clean and sober. At one point in my life I was unsure whether or not I was worthy of living a life as beautiful as this, but I am. When I wake up tomorrow I will have successfully completed 10 months of parole! Every single day brings new joy along with genuine memories created by natural happiness. My sobriety is the best gift I have given myself. I am so excited for what the future holds!”


Breanne Niles

Breanne Niles

This story was submitted to by Breanne Niles, 26, of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.


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