My name is Samantha Bouton, and I am a young person in long time recovery and to me that means I have not used a drink or drug since May 6th 2011. I am originally from Staten Island, NY and I come from a broken home. My mom and dad were divorced before I can even remember but my mom did the best she could raising me. I am the oldest sibling of four; I am 10 years older than my sister, 7 years older than my brother and 3 years older than my other sister. I grew up confused on a lot of different levels. I wasn’t sure how a relationship between a man and women was supposed to be. I can also remember a lot of chaos in my life at a young age. In school I struggled the most, I didn’t fit in anywhere, I got made fun of and I struggled with my grades.
As young as the age of 13, I can remember not wanting to live and hating myself. At 13, I also picked up my first drug. I finally fit in and felt a part of something and I was able to escape feelings that I didn’t want to feel. I would bring alcohol to school, drink on the weekends and eventually it became an everyday thing. At 15 I moved to New Jersey I found new friends and my addiction progressed. When I was 16 I moved back to Staten Island where I was introduced to pills and it went downhill from there. My parents had no idea. I was out of control and didn’t listen to anything I was told. I cut school and did what I wanted. I finally felt that I fit in.
After a few month of living on Staten Island I moved back home to New Jersey and was involved in an abusive relationship. We would verbally and physically abuse each other and I thought it was ok. I didn’t know any better. All I knew was that “he loved me”. That relationship eventually lead me to almost dying in the hospital. If the ambulance didn’t come when it did I could have been dead. This guy was my whole life so even after being in the hospital I still went back to him. When that relationship finally ended I cut my hair short, dyed it black and used drugs harder than ever. I went to places that I had no business going to and hung out with people who used like me. I tried harming myself multiple times.
I became out of control I would drink and drive all the time with no care in the world. I could have easily killed myself or someone else at any given time. I was so selfish. I caused a lot of harm to people who loved and cared about me. I was difficult to talk to and had the answers for everything. I wouldn’t come home for days and wouldn’t even answer phone calls from my mom to let her know that I was okay. I caused so much damage in my life and everyone’s around me. I got arrested, totaled a car, and crashed every other week. I eventually wanted to die every day because of all the harm I caused to myself and everyone in my life. I did things I never wanted to do and I had so much shame.
In 2010 I went to my first rehab; I went away for 28 days. After I came home I didn’t use a drug or drink for 8 months. After that I wound up drinking, I justified it because I was only 20 and that is what 20 year olds do. Within a week I used other drugs besides alcohol and things started to get bad again. After a couple of months of using drugs again something hit me. I remembered how much freedom and self-worth I had when I didn’t use drugs. I also remembered all of the relationships I gained back. I made the decision to stop using drugs on May 6th 2011.
Since being in recovery I have a life that I have only dreamt about. I am employable, I don’t want to die anymore, and I have hope and love in my heart again. I recently got engaged to an amazing man who is also in recovery. I was able to move into an apartment with my fiancé we even have a dog, I can remember when I couldn’t even care for myself.
Today I am a sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, fiancé and a friend. I don’t hate myself today; I have so much freedom and self worth. I no longer feel the need to fit in anywhere because I am ok with who I am. Today I am able to show up for my family and they even enjoy being around me. I have a great relationship with my mom, step mom and dad. They support me in my recovery and I am forever grateful for that. This journey has not been easy but I can assure you it is better than the life I was living.
The stigma put on people with substance use disorder needs to be broken; it turns my stomach when people who have no idea talk about addiction. We are not all homeless, we don’t all beg for change. We are people who live regular lives; we have regular jobs, we are students, we are parents, we are children and have families. We have the ability to change; there are 23 million people in recovery. I hope that in the near future we can hear more about recovery stories on the news instead of overdoses and negative things about addiction. I am not anonymous; I am a person in long term recovery and I love my life!