Alumni Spotlight: Jamie’s Recovery Story
Our Discovery Point Retreat alumni family is filled with amazing people who exemplify what drives our passion for addiction recovery. No matter where their stories began or what experiences brought them to our doors, each of our alumni prove that recovery is always possible.
To help celebrate the members of our recovery family and give our alumni an opportunity to share their stories, we are now hosting Facebook Live events with hosts Noelle Carmen and Alumni Counselor Jasmine Jackson. During each Live we invite a Discovery Point Retreat alumni to share their recovery story as well as their experiences in treatment and what they’ve accomplished since graduation. This week alumni Jamie shared this powerful testimony.
Jamie grew up in a split household after her parents divorced when she was four. Her father would later remarry, which created some contention between Jamie and his new wife. She recalls not getting along as well with her stepmother as she did with her birth mother. Even so, Jamie maintains that she had a good home life growing up. She had supportive parents despite typical family disputes and never experienced any abuse during her childhood. Her parents instilled a strong sense of morality in her from a young age. As a routine churchgoer and leader of Scholarship of Christian Athletes at school, Jamie held strong Christian beliefs. Temptation was still present, however. As a teen she fell in love with a ‘bad boy,’ something which her father greatly disapproved. The teen romance would cause tensions to grow between Jamie and her father, causing greater turmoil within the home.
She began smoking marijuana with her boyfriend at only seventeen years old while in high school. He was an avid smoker, and though Jamie had already been drinking underage under the supervision of a parent, she was initially against drug use. At the beginning of their relationship, Jamie says she vocalized, “no, absolutely not. I will never do drugs.” As time went on, she relented under the belief that ‘one time won’t hurt.’ Of her first time smoking, Jamie says it felt like dreaming, only better. As often happens, one time turned into two and eventually Jamie was also habitually smoking marijuana.
When her father learned about Jamie’s marijuana use, he grew even stricter and more vocal about his disapproval of Jamie’s then-boyfriend. Eventually this led to him sending her to live with her birth mother. With Jamie’s past as a well-behaved child, her birth mother welcomed her with fewer restrictions, of which she took full advantage.
“That chaos—I started chasing it. I moved out of my mother’s home in high school and got an apartment with my boyfriend at the time. We would spend the majority of our time smoking marijuana and drinking. Then we got pregnant, which caused me to stop everything to be healthy. I needed to stop all the smoking and drinking for the baby. At eight weeks pregnant, I had a miscarriage. The day I found out, I went to a party and started drinking heavily to get drunk—that continued until I went to rehab in 2020. Since the miscarriage, I stayed drunk and high every single day. I never had a day sober.”
“I struggled for so long, and I didn’t see a way out of it.”
The experience of having a miscarriage damaged Jamie’s relationship beyond repair and eventually led the couple to go their separate ways. By the summertime, however, she found a new love interest: a guy she met at one of her frequent house parties. It was also during these parties that she was introduced to harder substances; while she smoked and drank, other attendees would use cocaine or methamphetamine. Jamie admits to judging the individuals who participated in harder drug use and looking down on them. Once again, Jamie found herself announcing, “no, absolutely no harder drugs,” but she couldn’t draw the boundary for herself:
“A week later, the guy I had a crush on was like ‘do you want to try this?’ and I was like ‘yeah okay.’ I wanted to show off for him. At this point, it was all fun and no addiction until I had my first line of cocaine. Doing that first line, I sat back and thought, ‘this could turn into a problem’ because it was the most euphoric feeling I had ever experienced—I was a whole new person. At the time, I thought I was a better person, a more energetic, talkative, outgoing person. I can recall the sinking pit in my stomach, knowing this could be an issue, but I wanted to enjoy it a little bit longer anyway. I was unaware of addiction; I was never around addicts, so I didn’t realize how quickly life could spiral out of control.”
Addiction is a disease that convinces us it’s our best option. Even in the pits of despair, Jamie says she would fool herself into thinking life was ‘okay’ as long as she was actively using. She would stay up all weekend doing cocaine and falling asleep a mere hour before class, unable to stay up any longer. This would cause her to fall further and further behind until she ultimately dropped out of college. After dropping out, Jamie started using cocaine more frequently throughout the week. At this point, she never spent a single day sober
Then she became “lazy” with her job. During COVID-19, she would protest going to work. On many occasions, she deliberately induced health and safety protocols claiming she was running a fever. Although she initially only intended to miss one day of work, her employer required her to miss ten.
“I needed it every day. The more I did cocaine, the more people who did not use cocaine stopped hanging out with me, so it got to a point where I was only hanging out with people who used cocaine.”
Jamie talks about how awful the ‘comedown’ is:
“The comedowns were really hard. One minute I’m in this high euphoric, energetic, talkative state of mind in the place of serenity, but then the drugs wear off. I get cranky and tired; however tired I am, I cannot go to sleep. Because the drug keeps me up, I get this craving for more; once I’m high, I need to stay high. The comedowns are terrible because that’s when you start thinking about life and the decisions I made—no one wants to think about that. I start to think things like, ‘Maybe my life isn’t so great.”
“I knew right from wrong. If I could just put this down, get a job, go back to school- everything would work out, but I had no control of my mind or body. I gave that control to this drug. I didn’t choose it, but I was born this way. Even if I know right from wrong, it’s a disease.”
As Jamie discusses the most problematic part of her addiction — her ‘rock bottom’– she recalls weighing less than 100 pounds after repeatedly choosing substances over food. Eventually, she could no longer recognize her own reflection. Jamie mourned the life she once dreamed of: being a doctor and accomplishing great things. Instead, she found herself living with a friend in someone else’s home. She would cry when she saw herself in the mirror. Her family would constantly send uplifting messages to her; although Jamie kept them at a distance, her mother knew she was depressed.
The most horrific moment of Jamie’s addiction came during Christmas time.
“I was around my family and doing cocaine. I was always on it; however, I tried my best to portion it out with it being my family. I remember laying on the floor playing with my five-month-old nephew, and my cocaine slipped out onto the floor. I didn’t even notice. So many bad things could have happened: he could have picked it up and eaten it. My mom ended up finding it, but I thought I had just lost it. As I was about to leave, my sister and mom stopped me and said I couldn’t be part of my nephew’s life unless I got help. I had just had a miscarriage in March, so I thought I could never have kids. All I wanted to do was spoil him for his whole life. I knew my sister was about my addiction — I had a lot of guilt and shame around that at the time. When my sister talked about rehab, I thought that was a really good idea. I thought I’d do the least amount of work so I could see my nephew again.”
Jamie’s sister picked out a few different treatment centers she thought would be an excellent fit; as Jamie talked with the centers, she chose Discovery Point Retreat, which checked all the boxes. They offered the therapy types she needed, even a private chef, and it was a clean ranch-style home, not a stark hospital. They told Jamie she could come in at noon the same day.
“When I was in my addiction, I didn’t do personal hygiene tasks. So I was excited to take a shower, brush my teeth, eat good food, that stuff.”
When asked about her first day, Jamie responded with:
“In the past, I was socially awkward a lot during social interactions. As soon as I showed up there, the staff was so welcoming. I was crying because I was overwhelmed, and the recovery coaches[the staff] looked at me and said, ‘I’ve been where you are,’ and she knew exactly what I was feeling. That comforted me, and they made the process individualized to my needs. On my first day, I was scared; I didn’t want questions, so I just went to my bed. I cried and wrote letters to my friends back home. One of the residents walked in and introduced herself—she was so kind. I remember being invited to color at the table.
As Jamie chuckled, she continued:
“Originally I said no, but eventually I ended up saying yes. Instantly I felt this connection with the clients. They would ask me questions, questions I was embarrassed to answer, and would reluctantly answer.”
“Then they would all respond with ‘me too type answers.’ So they understood where I was coming from! They understood what my life was like. I felt a sense of community.”