My name is Rosemary, and I am an addict in recovery. I was in active addiction for 22 years. At an incredibly early age I felt like I had to be perfect, and a lot was expected of me from my family. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my father and grandparents raised me and my two younger brothers. My family did not talk about addiction or alcoholism, I would find out later in life that addiction and alcoholism was a problem for my mother and father. My father was an amazing dad and did the best he could raising me and my brothers. My siblings and I was given everything money could buy and were never punished for anything. My dad tried to make up for my mother leaving us. My mom was in and out of my life until she finally came back into my life at age 19. I moved around numerous times because of my father’s job. I had a hometown until I moved to Winchester Tennessee at the age of eleven. I always felt out of place and wanted to fit in with their cool kids at school. My father remarried shortly after we moved to Winchester, and I began acting out and running away. By the age of thirteen, I was put in state custody and lived in and out of foster homes and group homes until the age of seventeen.
When I was seventeen, I began using marijuana and drinking on the weekends.my senior year of high school my father had a job in Virginia, and I became very depressed. I tried to commit suicide the first times that year by taking too many over the counter pills. By the time I was 19 I had started snorting cocaine in addition the drinking and marijuana. For several years I just partied recreationally on the weekends with whoever had the drugs and alcohol. At the age of 25 I discovered hydrocodone. I wanted more energy because I had so much to do.it was cheaper to get pills so I started using those during the week and still partied on the weekends. Even though it had an excellent job it still didn’t have enough money for my habits, so I began writing bad checks and it wasn’t long before I started having warrants taken out for my arrest. Between my arrests, being late to work and being undependable I lost my excellent job. I started selling drugs full time by that point to support my habits. At 27 I found out that I was pregnant with my son Jayden. I did stop using it while I was pregnant with my son, and I thought me, and his father would be a happy family and live happily ever after and things didn’t work out.
Me and my son moved to Chattanooga. I had postpartum depression bad, and I started using it again and I was also introduced to meth. My son was 6 months old, and I tried to commit suicide again and ended up losing custody of him to my mother.in January 2011 I was moving out of my apartment in Chattanooga and my ex-boyfriend called me. I ended up going to get him. He was on meth and drove me around all night and when morning came, I finally got him to let me go. He begged me not to leave and I did anyways because it was Super Bowl Sunday, and I was cooking chicken wings for my family’s party. The next day I received a phone call that my ex-boyfriend had killed someone, and I was devastated blamed myself for leaving that day and told myself if I would have stayed that day, he wouldn’t have killed that man. I wanted to my numb my guilt and shame, so I started abusing oxycodone and Xanax. Later that year my sons father got full custody of my son when he was 2 due to me and my mother being on Xanax, oxycodone and we were also very messed up in court.my mom and I became very close because of our addiction and we enabled each other.my addiction got worse from there.my sons father allowed my son to live with me when I would portray that I was able to take care of him. I was still heavily in addiction only taking prescription narcotics by this point and I had to have a pill every day to function or I was dopesick.one memory I have of my son being in kindergarten is that I was in bed dope sick and he came and hugged and kissed me before school and rubbed my stomach and told me he was sorry I was sick and hoped I felt better. I finally realized I had a problem and started seeking treatment, but I would never complete a program and would leave before I was ready, I didn’t take recovery seriously.
I was generally high as soon as I got home and told myself that I could just control my drug use and I wouldn’t get strung out again-my addiction always came back full force. I became violent and I did whatever it took to get high.in 2018 my mother became extremely sick and was in the hospital pretty much for 23 months. I stayed around the clock with my mom and I would leave long enough to get drugs or if I didn’t have a pill that day my mom would just give me one of hers from when the nurses came in so I wouldn’t be dope sick in public.my mom passed away December 2019 and I started using meth daily and was truly out of control. I felt lost, alone and didn’t care about myself or anything anymore. I got high to escape because I didn’t want to deal with life. I tried suicide several more times, the last time being in January 2022.in February 2022 an old friend of mine called me and told me she was going to treatment and asked if she could stay with me until her bed was ready. She came and stayed with me and during that week she told me she saw how depressed and miserable I was. I had become someone neither of us knew. The night before she went to treatment, I decided I was going to go also. I called and was referred to steppingstones in Knoxville and was told about the Evolve Addiction Treatment Program. I was truly tired and exhausted from drugs and was ready to be open minded and willing. While I was in the evolve program, I started discovering my purpose-I wanted to work in recovery and help the addict who still suffers. I now work for Evolve Addiction Treatment at the Athens location. I love working for the program that showed me so much love and compassion when I didn’t see any in myself. Now I’m able to give back that love, compassion and understanding to our clients. I saw my son for the 1st time in 18months over the summer, I also talk to him daily.my father speaks to me now, my brother and me are closer than ever, I have my very good friends who had cut me off during my active addiction back in my life. I haven’t had a driver’s license in 10 years, and I have got my license back. I was sitting in jail 2years ago sad, depressed and hopeless. This Christmas I will be speaking at the county jail in my hometown to the female inmates telling my story and how my life my life turned around once I got clean.
I’m spending Christmas with my son and his family. I have never spent Christmas clean with my son before, and we are all excited. This year I’m giving my son presents instead of excuses. People used to call and ask me where the drugs were at-now they call and ask me where the rehab at. I have an amazing network of people in recovery who are the best people I have ever met. I am a member of NA and I’m working the steps-I have an amazing sponsor and sponsee sisters who are so supportive. I like to volunteer when I can and do service work. I share my experience, strength and hope with anyone I can so maybe someone will hear my story and see that life is beautiful in recovery. I lost so much in addiction and in recovery god has blessed me with more than I ever imagined possible.im healing and growing daily. I am grateful and truly blessed for my life today. I recover loudly for the addict who is still suffering in silence in hopes they will reach out for treatment. I recover loudly because I want to end the stigma of addiction and overdose. I recover loudly because I am living proof that we do recover!!!
“I am so proud of Rosemary. Rosemary is a person who has always wanted to help others and lead. Along the way she lost her way in the darkness that a lot of us know so well. She tried numerous times to escape only to fall deeper…. When she was uprooted and plated in good soil where the LIGHT could shine through…. SHE BECAME NEW…… Now she is planting seeds. I am very proud of you.” – Allen Burnette
Do you have a recovery story that you’d like to share? Email Ashlee Crouse at email@example.com.