Editor’s note: Betsey DeGree is the founder of the blog Mom Off Meth. She is a wife and a mom of four who has overcome her addiction to drugs and alcohol and is living a sober life. She is on Twitter.
I am not a monster. I am not that toothless person you see in photos or on TV. I am also no better than any of those folks you might think are addicts.
I am a regular suburban mother of four, with regular problems, who also happens to be in recovery from drugs and alcohol. My drug of choice is methamphetamine.
Meth. Scary word, right? It sure is.
The road that led me to a life that was, for a time, swallowed by addiction is one that could happen to anyone. Anyone who has the chronic illness of addiction, that is. We come in all forms, shapes, colors, classes, and, yes, we can come from the suburbs of Minnesota. We start for different reasons, and we end up in the same hell.
Like many women, I had a lot on my plate, and like many addicts, I dealt with it by using drugs and alcohol. When I was using drugs, I lied, I stole, I cheated anyone in the way. I was not the caring, loving mother, wife, or friend to anyone.
But luckily for me, I found a way to stop using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with my life. Although I'm still an easily overwhelmed person, I've learned how to not take on so much and live my life one moment at a time, without drugs and alcohol. When I do feel overwhelmed, I now know where to cut back, so that I don't hate myself. I’ve also learned how to ask for help, take a breath, and deal with life as it comes.
I have been sober since August 23, 2010. My life has greatly improved since then. Although my marriage is struggling, my children are happy, healthy, and very proud of me. This fall, I start my internship as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and will graduate with my bachelor’s degree next May.
Since going public with my story, my children were hurt by the stigma of what their mom was. They were hurt by the shame of what their mom was. As newspapers, news programs, and my blog have all come into the public eye, my kids have experienced very strong moments of shame.
But we have grown from that. They now understand how important it is that we share our stories, so that maybe someday, families won’t feel ashamed, so that people stop looking down on those of us with this disease. And more importantly, so people will be brave enough to ask for help when they need it.
Am I putting too much responsibility on our story to help people? Am I not being humble enough? There are probably parts of both questions that are true. But this is life or death for me and my family. I'm trying to do my part to help others so that I can stay sober and my children can be proud of me. And mostly, to help them understand that there is no shame in addiction. It is a disease that we can be in recovery from if we know it’s possible. It is totally possible.
I can only hope I'm doing the right thing. I've managed to stay sober, so I must be doing something right.
Narcotics Anonymous is an agency that helps addicts.