CRYSTAL McCORKLE

How did I get here?

How did I get here again? I asked myself as the officer read me my Miranda rights and arrested me. His voice seemed to drown out as I thought of my daughter, my parents, my husband, my job, my life. How was I here? Where did the last decade go? “You have a detainer the officer said. I was so used to being arrested, I knew what that meant, even if I could somehow bail out, probation disagreed. I knew that I would detox on a cold, dirty jail cell with little physical comfort but even worse mental torture. I sat in the

back of the police car as they searched my purse and car and found syringes, empty bags and more drug paraphernalia. “Why would you carry this stuff with you?” the officer asked. I scoffed and shook my head. How could I not? I NEEDED it. It was no longer a choice, but a driving force that ruled my every waking

moment. My thoughts, my actions, arrested for stealing all came from one source….heroin.

My story

I grew up in Hummelstown, was raised by a loving mom and stepfather who taught me morals and values. My real father was a self-proclaimed addict and alcoholic and has been absent my entire life with brief visits in my 33 years. My parents had me at 16, however I never felt like I was a mistake or burden to my mother or stepfather. They were hard, blue collar working people. They were kind and honest. I had good grades, was on the cheerleading squad, lots of friends and drugs were the furthest thing from my mind. I thought people who did drugs were losers who wanted to be like that. I thought of them as almost sub-human, less-than. The summer after high school graduation I started partying and smoking marijuana. I loved these. The confidence it gave me. It provided me with a sense of ease and comfort. Slowly over the summer my drinking and cocaine use increased. I moved in with my grandparents because my parents and I were not getting along. My grandparents treated me like an adult because I was 18 and believed this was probably just a phase and come September when it was time to go to college I would get my life back in order. The problem was that the time never came. My friends who partied just like me up and left? They pursued their college careers. They started careers. Me? I was so unsure of my future and place in the world. I felt alone and abandoned. I also did not want to take responsibility and “grow up.” I was overcome with the desire to continue using more heavily than I ever had. I had new meaning. It wasn’t school, or a career. It was drugs/alcohol. Unfortunately, along with that lifestyle came some consequences and I very quickly became engaged with the law and probation officers.

I decided I was done.

I decided I was done. I was going to treatment and would never use again. It had ruined my life and sent me to jail for 9 months and felony charges. I stayed in treatment 21 days. My parents picked me up, things were going to be different. I didn’t even want to use anymore. I felt strong and good…..for a few days. My parents insisted I work, follow rules, and they also believed that 21 days “cured me”. We as a family were so naive back then about addiction and addiction being a family disease. I met a boy and off to Philadelphia I went, my addiction progressed, and I did things I said I never would, compromised my safety and ultimately was trying to kill myself with the number of drugs I was using daily. This continued for years. In and out of jail, treatment and hospitals. We tried psychiatric wards, surely, I had to be crazy to keep doing this, right? Then I got pregnant. THIS was it! I could finally now really stop. I wanted to be a good mom! I wanted to be healthy! Addiction doesn’t work like that. I used while pregnant. The shame and guilt of that used to consume me. Today it does not, today I am 5 ½ years clean and sober. I am a loving mom who has custody of her daughter. I sponsor woman and have a sponsor.

What finally worked?

What finally worked? I don’t know for certain. I do believe I had the gift of desperation and was willing to take advice from people who said they used to be like me but they didn’t live their lives like that anymore. I was exposed to numerous treatment facilities, institutions and jails. I truly thought I would never be able to function without a mind and mood-altering substance. Fortunately, I have found another way to live. Having access to a year of after care, and the ability to follow through, is what I believe made the difference. I also surrounded myself with like-minded people and found a support group that helped me be accountable. I have tried multiple pathways to recovery in the past but truthfully, I was just not ready or willing to change. Abstinence based recovery afforded me the opportunity to work with a Recovery Community Organization, enroll in college, become a present mother and be an active member of society. I believe the suggestions and life experience others shared with me, helped me take a new direction in my life. I am honored and privileged to be a woman in long term recovery. to support myself.

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