2021 Scholarship Winner: The Compelling Story of How A Young Mother Overcame Her Addiction “Monster” through Treatment and Plans A Career as Treatment Counselor.
Below you will find the powerful biography and essay of the Recovery Centers of America (RCA) and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) Hope for Addiction Scholarship winner Pamela L. As a scholarship winner, Pamela will receive $1000 to be used to further her education.
My name is Pamela L. I was raised right outside of Springfield, Missouri in a small town called Bois D’Arc. I am a single mother of three boys who are the ages 13, 11, and 4. Their father passed away this year in May from a meth overdose and heart attack. I am 32 years old and I am seeking a career as a substance abuse counselor. I love attending college, it has been very empowering for me. My main goal is to help change the lives of those who are actively struggling with addiction and their loved ones. I have been clean for over two years now. I was addicted to almost every substance you could name. I am living my life now so much for the better and I plan to do something powerful in my future with the strength and knowledge I have gained from my failures and now my accomplishments.
My addiction My Monster
By Pamela L.
Addiction has been a part of my life since I was very young. As an addict now in recovery, I am able to look back and see that I was addicted and had self-destructive tendencies many years before I even found myself deep in substance abuse. Trauma had struck my life as a young child and then again, many times after, as it does for most addicts. I understand now how my addiction issues were born from the inability to cope with some of the tragedies and pain I had experienced throughout my life. As an adolescent and into my young adulthood I struggled with extremely poor self-esteem and a feeling that I was worthless. Drugs became a way for me to manage these kinds of feelings and stress and then soon became a daily part of my life that I had to have just to function.
I gave a large part of my life to the vicious cycle of drug seeking, using, and feeling sick because of the absence of a drug. I actively used substances for approximately fifteen years of my life. There were many times I would just trade one addiction for another. This was a way to help me feel validated in quitting a substance that had began causing issues in my life or had become too difficult to keep others from noticing the affects the drug was having on me. Many times I found myself at the bottom. I was lying to myself and everyone around me.
My life had been a roller coaster of ups and downs already when I started using drugs intravenously at the age of twenty-three. When I was introduced to the needle, I discovered that it was an addiction all its own. It was a monster that grew so big in my life at a certain point that I was no longer able to fight it on my own.
After overdosing twice, losing my children, being in countless abusive relationships, and experiencing chronic homelessness, I turned for help. I cannot tell you the day or the hour I got clean like some can. I only know that I got clean approximately two years ago after hitting rock bottom and seeking treatment through a rehabilitation center in Salem, Missouri. After rehabilitation I sought therapy and a support system like our local Narcotics Anonymous group. I have since become a part of my children’s lives again, found a beautiful home, and started continuing my education. There are still days that I struggle with the thought of using, but I know that I have gained too much to lose and if I used I would risk losing it all. I will always be an addict, but today I am an addict in recovery.
I knew the moment that I started looking at college’s what I wanted to major in and what I had planned for my future. I knew from the very start of this journey that I wanted to help others who were struggling with their addictions get clean and live a more fulfilling life. I believe that having someone to talk to and guide you through recovery who has already experienced the struggle of getting off drugs and staying clean, can make a much more positive impact in an addict’s life. I see my addiction as a blessing. It has been something that I have gained knowledge and strength from so that I can in-turn help someone else in the same battle I once fought.
Ozark’s Technical Community College in Table Rock and Springfield, Missouri have a Behavioral Health Support Program available. I am currently attending Ozark’s Technical Community College online under this degree plan to enter the program and then graduate with an associates degree that will allow me to pursue a career as a substance abuse counselor. This position normally requires a bachelor’s degree, but with this degree in Behavioral Health Support through this college, I can also fill such positions.
People always say, “everything happens for a reason.” After living through some of the darkest places in life one can imagine and almost losing my life to drugs one would wonder how I find the good in what I’ve been through. Well, I believe that it is true. Things do happen for a reason. We gain knowledge, strength, patience, and understanding from our trials. We learn something when we fail, just as we learn something when we succeed. Its being able to recognize the importance of what we have gained every time we pick ourselves back up that can make all the difference. I use this to motivate me to move forward. Knowing that one day I can help someone else see the light in the darkness of addiction keeps me moving forward. One day I can make a difference.
Pamela’s video essay https://youtube.com/shorts/9EvUmXQtT7c