One of the common themes I’ve noticed in doing this is a lack of belonging. 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. We discuss her drug education and what she is doing to stay balanced and help combat the problem.
“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. I have learned a lot about myself as a person. I have learned to live a better quality of life from addiction.”
“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.”
Emily’s addiction followed an unusual trajectory, beginning with IV heroin use. However, her rationale to use was 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 I was still unhappy. I didn’t wanna do anything, I didn’t wanna go anywhere. I tried 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 explains that when she finally had to come clean to her parents once her bank account started to dwindle that it wasn’t easy to get 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.”
We talk about a silver lining in Emily’s life, where she started to exercise and even got members of her family into her workouts:
“There was a brief shining moment in my life that I loved. It was in 2013 I lost all this weight and I looked great. I was in the best shape of my life.”
“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.”
After a near death experience from being diagnosed with a heart condition that is specific to Heroin IV Emily was referred to University of Michigan where she had an amazing experience with her doctor but even that was not enough to keep her from relapsing. She finally visited an inpatient treatment center. She was trying hard, trying everything she could to stay off of drugs. She then invited a drug addict to stay in her home, admitting she wanted an excuse to return to her life of drugs, but then one day something amazing happened. She woke up and wanted to change.
“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. 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. Find your truth, and if you fall down get back up even if you keep falling. Click here if you’d like to hear part two of this series, where I talk to Emily’s mom.