I tried to quit many times, but couldn’t do it on my own.
My anxiety and depression started in high school. I isolated myself and just wanted to be left alone. Once I got to college, my anxiety worsened, and I had a panic attack my first week of classes. I went to a psychiatrist, who proceeded to prescribe me Xanax. I learned fairly quickly that if I had a feeling that I didn’t like, I could just numb it away. I also suffered an injury and rapidly became dependent on the narcotics I was prescribed. Then when I couldn’t access them anymore, I used other substances to survive another day and avoid withdrawal – which only made my addiction more severe and debilitating.
For years I spiraled out of control. I overdosed three times in one month (only God knows why I’m still here), ruined my relationships with friends, family and anyone else who cared about me, stole from my family, and ultimately became Hurricane Ashley, leaving devastation wherever I went.
Opioid addiction consumed my life, separated me from my family and caused all of us years of pain and suffering. I had no hope for my future.
After 10 years of living in addiction, I finally found hope five years ago when I entered the UNC Horizons substance abuse program for women. There, treatment saved my life. I’m now able to be a successful mother, professional, and student, and am dedicated to helping others seeking recovery from addiction.
Overcoming substance abuse is more complex than just quitting taking drugs. The Foundation of Hope’s research shines a light on the science of mental illness and addiction, and their work truly saves lives. They really care about people like me, which gives all those on the recovery journey hope for their future. Now, I’m more than just a number — I am a survivor.
Read Ashley’s full Changemaker story.