I’ve never had a drink of alcohol not even a sip, ever. Nor have I ever smoked a “joint” or used any illegal/recreational substances. I wish I could say that it was all my own doing that prevented me from walking that path, but if I did it would be a lie. God (even when I was doing my best to walk as far away from Him as possible) was the spearhead on the ability to say “No” front. That paired up with my incredibly determined nature meant that I was able to walk away from more than one opportunity to try one or both of those things.
It was fear that drove my stubborn nature. I was a shy teenager painfully so, with some serious insecurity issues. I was/am someone who commits to things fully, with an “all or nothing” type behavioural patters. I was afraid that the combination of that part of my nature and the desire to feel self-assured would allow me to use alcohol as my liquid confidence in a dangerous way.
What if I tried it and liked it? What if I couldn’t say “No”? What if the odd drink for confidence turned into a regular habit to survive?
Little did I know how valid that fear really was….
The year I became pregnant with Bethany was a crazy one. Corey and I had been married a total of 3 weeks when I started to suspect that I’d gotten pregnant on our honeymoon, by week 4 it was confirmed – we were going to have a baby.
Never did I expect that my pregnancy would turn into the long and painful process that it did and when I was admitted into the hospital at 8 weeks pregnant with debilitating abdominal pains, I was crushed. I’d imagined pregnancy so differently, days filled with nursery preparation, shopping for maternity clothes and the need for bra’s found outside the juniors department.
That first night in emergency, as I lay on the bed writhing in pain a nurse came in, they’d ordered a pain medication for. Due to the nature of my pain, the fact that regular Tylenol had done nothing, I was vomiting everything up, I was pregnant (which ruled out a large number of options) and my lethal allergy to morphine, they’d decided a medicine called Dilaudid would be the best choice.
As the first dose of Dilaudid paired with a hefty dose of Gravol flowed through my veins, the smell of windshield washer fluid filled my nose (it’s a weird side effect for me from Gravol IV), I began to feel the first tiny bit of relief I’d felt in over a week. I was thankful, and finally I slept.
I spent 6 weeks in that hospital while doctors did their best to determine what was happening inside my body. As each day went by, and my body continued to be riddled with pain I received more medication.
I truly needed it, the pain was overbearing and I had no tools to be able to cope with it. The 4 hour doses of Gravol and Dilaudid kept me in a foggy state, I don’t remember much of those 6 weeks. Some of that is due to the ugly emotional stuff left over from a bad relationship before Corey I was processing, while I was dealing with resenting the baby (which I learned later wasn’t about her at all, I love and WANT her) that was causing me all this pain. The rest of it is simply because narcotics keep your brain in an ever crazy state, the Gravol made me tired and I spent hour upon hour sleeping.
It was awful.
Somewhere along the lines my body began to need the Dilaudid. As the 4th hour would draw to an end, I’d wake up ready for more. I didn’t see it like that, I saw that the pain was returning and I needed more help, but it was becoming more than that.
I was really fortunate for the last 3 weeks I was in the hospital the prenatal/baby docs that I’d been assigned took over. The recognized two things: 1st – that my abdominal pain was probably being cause by the severe scar tissue left in my belly from an infected and oozing appendix when I was kid and 2nd – was that they needed to get me off of that Dilaudid and they needed to do it fast.
It took 2 weeks to slowly work my dosage down, to incorporate a different method of pain management and to prepare me to head home. It was the longest 2 weeks of my life. I was having to re-learn how to cope with pain because for 4 weeks something else had been doing the job for me. I was adjusting to the horrible nausea that comes with pregnancy for me and to emotionally handle the idea of going home. There were papers to fill out and letters to my bosses.
6 weeks after they first admitted me to the hospital I gingerly walked out the doors to go home. My body hurt, I was weak (I had lost 15lbs in hospital during that time…I made up for it later gaining 60+lbs with that pregnancy) and I felt weird. My skin was itchy, my legs felt like there were bugs all over them and I couldn’t sit still. I didn’t know what would make it better, I didn’t know why it was happening and all I could think about was making it go away.
That first night at home, while I lay in a warm bathtub trying to make the bug crawly feeling go away it dawned on me – I was addicted to a narcotic.
Or at least my body was. I had spent 4 full weeks and another 2 partial weeks giving my body a heavy duty substance on a regular basis and it had come to expect it.
That moment filled me with horror, how did that happen to me?!! I don’t do drugs, I’ve never had alcohol and while I made some bad choices I’d always been the “Good Girl”, how could I possibly be addicted to drugs.
I wasn’t mentally addicted to drugs, it wasn’t like heading to a back alley to score but my body had the same auto response of someone hooked on an illegal substance. If I wasn’t of the nature I am, with the God whom I serve and the family I have watching over me that situation could have easily turned into a very, very bad one.
I made up my mind right then and there I wouldn’t take a narcotic again. Short of being in the place where I’m dying I will never again allow a narcotic to enter the veins of my body, primarily Dilaudid – and I haven’t. The idea that I could easily become hooked on it again scares the bejeepers out of me. If it happened once, it could happen again and I have too much to lose to let that happen.
That experience gave me a new perspective, a rather HUGE wake up call. I no longer pass the “how could you” or “what a loser” judgement on someone that I shamefully used to pass. It could have been me, it could be you. Nobody sets out to get addicted to drugs and ruin their life. That first beer wasn’t meant to catastrophically change the path of your future forever but it could, and you may not even know it.
So the next time you pass someone on the street strung out, please think of me. Remember a woman who’s life now shows no signs of where she’s been or who she could have become thanks to the grace of God (with a little or a lot of a stubborn nature) and then see them with my eyes. They are someone’s son or daughter, they had bigger dreams than that for their life and what they really need now, more than our judgement is our compassion and our prayers.
*please know there is NO judgement passed on whether or not you choose to have a drink recreationally. Just because I don’t doesn’t mean I look down on it, the choice I made was for me, not for you!*
Ashley Stone is the wife of one “perfect for her” husband, the mama of two beautiful little girls, child of God and the voice behind Our Family Stone. Her days are filled with laughter, frustration and all the little moments in between. When she’s not writing at OFS, Ashley can be found playing with her girls or in her kitchen where she runs her own healthy baking business. She’s passionate about family, her faith & fitness and dreams of one day being able to go the bathroom alone.