After abusing pain medication for much of her youth, Regina started using heroin when she was only 21 years old. She was introduced to heroin by the neighbors across the hall in her apartment complex. “It was really easy to keep going back to it,” she said because of her close proximity to the drug. Regina soon began to get in trouble at her job at a large retail pharmacy. She was accused of stealing a few weeks after employer discovered her drug use. Regina never stole the money.
By October of 2013, Regina’s life hit a new low. After a night of drinking with friends, she was driving home from dropping off her boyfriend and decided to try to end her life. She hit a highway guard rail and crashed her car. Thankfully, Regina lived, but she badly broke her back and needed surgery to insert metal rods and pins. Because she needed so much help while recovering, she moved back in with her mother who was able to care for her. To combat the pain while recuperating, Regina took pain medicine, as needed for her back, but as she became more and more mobile, she would go out looking for new and stronger pills. “I started using weekly and it turned into two times a week and more and more. It became a daily thing where I would crush the pills and chew them. Sometimes if I wasn’t able to find the pills, I would end up buying heroin again,” she said.
In the fall of 2014, Regina got in trouble with police after she and her boyfriend broke into a car window to steal a purse sitting on the seat. She went to jail, but made bail and spent the next year or so dealing with legal proceedings. During the legal process, Regina started treatment at a Methadone clinic and continued treatment for about nine months. Meanwhile, her boyfriend was on probation for six months and entered a rehab facility for three months. On the day he was released from rehab, Regina picked him up and they decided to get high to celebrate. “We decided we’ll just have a little fun. We’ll go buy some pills and crush them up and have a fun time,” she said.
Within no time, Regina and her boyfriend were abusing Methadone and Xanax, among other pills, and they added a new drug to their repertoire: crack cocaine. Within days, they started to buy heroin again. One day while shooting up with heroin, her boyfriend overdosed and Regina drove him to the hospital for treatment. During the car ride, she noticed his shallow heartbeat and blue-tinged ears and lips. At the hospital, doctors could not find his pulse and gave him an emergency shot of Narcan. He survived. “When I got home I didn’t want to be on the Methadone anymore. I ended up finding Brightside,” she said.
Regina said that the staff at Brightside was very understanding when she was in need of help, but didn’t have enough money to pay for her treatment. She worried that she wouldn’t be able to continue her desperately-needed treatment, but soon her fears subsided. “They paid for the prescriptions and helped me and didn’t make me pay until the next time I came in,” she said.
Now 23 years old, Regina is currently pregnant, but able to continue her addiction treatment at Brightside on Subutex. She said that she and her boyfriend no longer socialize with the drug-using people they use to. “Even before I got pregnant, we cut ties with them. It’s just him and me now. Me, him and my family. Me and him being sober and on the same path and having the same goals in life, it’s just a lot easier now,” she said.
Both Regina and her boyfriend are steadily employed and living with her family while preparing for their baby’s birth. They look forward to the day when they can live on their own as a family of three. Regina said she is hopeful about her future and thankful to be moving forward in a healthy and positive direction. “In 2014, I had started on Methadone, life was crappy, my boyfriend was in jail and there was nothing I could do about it. I was at a low point. Around the same time in 2013, I had just broken my back, another low point. I’m glad I’m not in the same place as the last couple of years,” she said.