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Vanessa Keeton

Addiction sank its claws into my life when I was in high school, and I didn’t think that I would ever live to tell you of my redemption story. I fell hard and fast into the partying lifestyle, and I loved it. Life is a party and rules are made to be broken, right? I sure thought so, and that mindset nearly took my life.

 

I was a smart kid, and I had a family who loved me. My upbringing wasn’t perfect, but who’s is? I was brought up in church and raised to know right from wrong, but wanting to have fun and the need to be “cool” trumped any logic that I had most of the time. I struggled with normal teenage insecurities, and I constantly compared myself to others which caused me to inevitably fall short over and over again. As insecurities grew, so did my addiction.

 

Alcohol and marijuana lead to pain pills and nerve pills. Next came Oxycontin and the feeling that it gave me was exactly what I was looking for. I was hooked and I didn’t know what had gotten ahold of me. For years, I functioned at a certain level as an addict. I was in and out of college and lived wherever the wind blew me, but I managed to hold down a job which created a false sense of security in my life. I paid my bills and kept insurance on my car, so in my opinion, I was just fine. Though I couldn’t go to work without snorting a pill, I really thought I was ok.

 

It wasn’t until I started shooting up that I realized that I really had a problem. At that point, I could no longer hold down a job and stealing became my way of living. I lost every sense of moral that my mom ever tried to instill into me, and I completely lost touch with reality. Not that I was really living in reality throughout my addiction, but the control that addiction had taken over my life was beyond scary by this point.

 

I ended up being ordered to treatment through the court system, and that was the best thing that could have happened to me. Kennis Maynard, the county attorney in Martin County, gave me the number to Odyssey in Louisa, and that began a string of events that landed me at Karen’s Place on December 2, 2010. I didn’t want treatment, and I didn’t want to be there, but God’s plan prevailed.

 

Residential treatment was not easy, but it was exactly what I needed. I was able to be completely removed from the world long enough to allow my mind to slow down, my thoughts to stop racing, and my sanity to return. I remember waking on one day and I realized that I had absolutely no clue who I really was. I had believed the lies that I was the loud, high, and wild girl that addiction had created me to be. I had to lose that false identity to truly discover my identity in Christ.

 

God has radically transformed me into the woman that He created me to be, my life has truly been redeemed. Out of all of the dreams that I could have ever had for my life, the one that I have been blessed with is even better. I learn and grow more every day and I am thankful to be in long-term recovery.  

 

Describe your “aha” moment?

 

My “aha” moment came when I was in the psych ward at Three Rivers Medical Center, detoxing for the second time in about a month. I had been without drugs for approximately four days at that point, and I was sick. I called my “friend” who owed me money at the time, and was talking her into bringing me a few 30’s and a rig to get high one more time before I returned to Karen’s Place. She agreed, I paced the floor for a while, and then called her back and told her not to worry about it. Never in my addiction had I EVER turned down the chance to get high, but something was different. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could stay sober for a while.

 

What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?

 

Honestly, my driving force has changed over the years. It started out being fear. I was afraid that I would die if I used one more time, and that I would be charged for every crime that I had ever committed and gotten by with if I returned to my old ways. I actually convinced myself of these things, just as an extra precaution to never go back to the lifestyle that I once lived. After a while, the fear faded, and I found my forever driving force in my relationship with my Savior. Not that I haven’t had a relationship with Him all throughout my sobriety, but I finally learned to depend on Him without needing assistance from outside sources.

 

What advice do you have for the addict that is still struggling?

 

Don’t give up, and never think that you have gone too far to be saved. Going to a residential treatment center is a tough decision, but will be one of the best ones that you could ever make. Every addict can benefit from time away from this hectic world to focus on themselves and allow their mind to calm down long enough to think clearly. Give yourself the time that you need to recover. If you don’t feel that residential treatment is an option, then try a different method. Just know that there is help for you. If I can live a sober life, anyone can.

 

What obstacles or roadblocks have you encountered along your recovery journey?

 

My biggest roadblock is “busyness”. I have a bad problem with just staying busy and allowing life to pass me by. I am still trying to learn to stop and smell the roses.

 

What is something you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?

 

If you have never struggled with an addiction, just know that it is no respecter of persons. It can and will happen to anyone. I didn’t wake up one day and decide that I was going to spend years in my own personal hell, and neither does any other addict out there. Kindness goes a long way for an addict, try that first.

 

What advice do you have for family members of person in active addiction?

 

If you have a family member who is struggling with addiction, know that if they have breath there is still hope for them. People recover every day and your loved one can still have a bright future, no matter how dim things may appear. Seek help for yourself and your loved one, addiction affects the whole family and it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the addicts life and lies that you no longer think clearly. Tough love is still love, be cautious not to enable your loved one.

 

Closing Thoughts:

 

Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes. Never think that someone who is smart will not fall into the trap of addiction, because intelligence does not determine if someone will become an addict or not. Early intervention is the key, so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think is sliding down the slippery slope of addiction. All they can do is get mad at you, and they will get over it. You could be saving their life.

 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.