Erna B.,

Cumberland County, PA

My name is Erna and this is my opioid story.

I was four-and-a-half when I came to America with my family for a better and brighter future. That is what my family was trying to give me; but as I got older, my innocence slowly faded. While my two older cousins went on to build better futures and became successful, I became a terrible version of myself.

I was 23 years old when this all began. It felt like a nightmare that would never end. It started with Percocet. My ex’s grandmother would give them to me for my back when it would hurt – but it got to the point where I would start asking for them just because the feeling was an amazing feeling for me. Before I knew it, I was snorting 30-milligram Percocet pills all day long and running out of them. I slowly became more and more irresponsible with my life and everything involved in it. One day I didn’t have any Percocet and had no way of getting any. That was the day I made the biggest mistake of my life: I shot heroin. The feeling was so overpowering, so warm, and welcoming at the moment. I wanted to hold onto that feeling forever because everything else was falling apart in my life. I started shooting heroin here and there and then progressed to a more regular basis. Before I knew it, I was lying to everyone around me just to stay high and was slowly losing my apartment and my son.

I finally did lose my apartment and ended up sleeping at friends’ houses with my son. All I had left was my car. My addiction got so out of control that I eventually lost custody of him too while going in and out of jail. This didn’t stop me either. I sat in jail for a good six months and got out on probation, and instead of doing what I needed to do, I went right back to the heroin. I overdosed twice in one night and woke up finally with brain damage. I now till this day suffer from short-term memory loss. However, that also still didn’t stop me. I did it again one last time and overdosed again. Finally, I went to long-term treatment. At that point, my family and boyfriend were so fed up with me that I didn’t have a choice. I went to treatment at Gaudenzia. It was rough but was the worst and best treatment I needed, if that makes sense. I left Gaudenzia in 2016 or 2017; I haven’t been keeping track. So far, I have gotten full custody of my son back. My fiancé and I are still together six years strong. We also had a beautiful little girl that we all adore.

“My life has significantly changed for the best. I’m not exactly where I want to be at all. I have so much more work to do, but I am exactly where I should be.”

This is why I’m sharing my story. My life has significantly changed for the best. I’m not exactly where I want to be at all. I have so much more work to do, but I am exactly where I should be. I still till this day cannot believe that I don’t wake up anymore and need to go stick something in my arm to make myself feel better. I finally have a relationship with my two oldest cousins who are more like brother and sister to me. This is all so possible, and I still can’t believe it.