One of the common themes I’ve noticed in doing this is a lack of belonging. Similarly, it was present in my experience and a point of emphasis in both parts of this series. Emily Ballien shares her perspective in this Discussion. She opens up about her seven year battle with addiction that developed from the trauma of experiencing abusive relationships. Moreover, we discuss her drug education and what she is doing to stay balanced and help combat the problem. According to Emily, “addiction is a dark thing, and it is not talked about enough. I think that is one of the biggest problems in our society today, is that we don’t talk about it enough”.
“Addiction is the worst thing that I have ever had to experience as well as simultaneously being the best thing I have ever had to experience. I have pulled a lot from it,” says Emily. “I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person. I have learned to live a better quality of life from addiction.”
Emily’s Unconventional Path
Emily’s addiction followed an unusual trajectory, beginning with IV heroin use. However, her rationale to use followed a similar theme:
I think it was mainly peer pressure surrounding the situation. (People saying) it feels awesome, It’s going to be great. And it does feel great, which is the problem. I cleaned up (for a little while), but still unhappy. I didn’t wanna do anything, I didn’t wanna go anywhere. I’d try to fake being happy because I didn’t want them and my family to think that I was unhappy. I got back into drugs, on and off. When I moved out of my parents home in 2012 my drug use got very bad. Another one of my boyfriends drank quite a bit, and so I started to drink as well. He was using me for what I had.Emily Ballien
Emily talks about coming clean to her parents. Which occurred after her bank account dwindled. She shares about how it wasn’t easy getting help. “My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t even think I went to a facility for treatment at that time. There weren’t a lot of resources available to us.”
After years, Emily attended an inpatient treatment center. She was trying hard, trying everything to stay off of drugs. She invited a drug addict to stay in her home not long after. In other words, she (admittedly today) wanted an excuse to return to use. One day something amazing happened. Above all, she woke up and wanted to change.
In 2014 I got my second OWI. Then I fell back into drugs. Alcohol was the hardest thing I ever had to let go of because it made me feel comfortable. I really couldn’t handle being around people. At age 24 I thought my life had come to its end, and I think this was my rock bottom. I was doing shitty things to people to get drugs.Emily Ballien
After a near death experience, Emily became diagnosed with a heart condition specific to Heroin IV use soon after. In addition, she was referred to University of Michigan. It was a place where she had an amazing experience with her doctor, however she relapsed soon after.
“People ask me that all the time. What made you change? And you know I really don’t know. I woke up one day and looked really hard at myself. I wasn’t getting anything done in my life, and I felt like I had a lot more potential”. Says Emily, “I felt like this needs to stop and it needs to stop now. I didn’t want to pass away because of a statistic, I didn’t want to leave my family.” Emily’s story teaches us that you are the only one who can make the choice that your life is worth living. No matter the support or the downfalls ultimately you make the final call.” In conclusion, Click here if you’d like to hear part two of this series, where I talk to Emily’s mom.