Teresa Thomas Speaks About the Effects of Drug Use on Her Life

Isabella Mychajluk, Staff Reporter

Teresa Thomas is a 45-year-old nurse at BryLin Hospital.  She has two sons, Billy and Jacob, and a daughter, Heather. She now lives what many would consider a normal day-to-day life, living with her children and now ex-husband, except she has one struggle that has taken up a lot of her life: Teresa is a recovered drug addict.  For 5 years Teresa was using anything from cocaine to methamphetamine, and now after being in recovery for 5  years, she is ready to share her story

 

IM: What was your life like before you started using drugs?

TT: It was normal; I had 3 kids, I had a family. Prior to the drug use, I had gotten a divorce, but even at that time, it was pretty normal by anyone’s standard.  It was just normal. 

IM: What was the turning point from when it went from normal to not so normal?

TT: I had lost everything…  my job, my home, and then I stopped seeing my kids because of the predicament I was in, and that was the last straw for me. 

IM: What was the moment where you realized that enough was enough?

TT: It was a series of moments, a series of things that happened to start with me to get clean for what would be the last time. What fell into place was I was able to see my kids, and that solidified it for me. It was either the kids or the drugs. 

IM: Do you consider yourself in recovery or recovered?

TT: Do I consider myself recovered? It is a funny question because some days I do. There could be nothing that would make me use it again. And then there are other times the thoughts, it’s not so much going out and using, but the thoughts of using are kind of there. 

IM: How long do you think it takes for someone to be able to say they are recovered and not just in recovery? 

TT: There is for sure a difference. I think it’s different for everyone. Some people do it in steps where they do alcohol first, or drug use first, or a specific drug first. It just depends on them. If you can get off the drugs but you’re still an alcoholic, you are still using, so it’s specific. I’d say you need at least a couple of years to even consider using the word recovered. 

IM: So your ex-husband also is struggling with addiction. Do you think it would have ever been possible for you two to recover together, or for any two addicts to recover together?

TT: Personally, no. No. Never. I did not want to see the man that I had married, and I did not until I had to.  Everybody’s journey is so different; if it doesn’t mesh the right way, it can be catastrophic for the other person. Does that mean you can’t do it, no; but it is about your journey to be where you can function like a normal person in life…

IM: What do you think was the greatest effect of your addiction?

TT: There are different side effects that I still have because of using, and it affects the things that I love so much every day. But the most positive effect is that I have my family back. And that includes my ex’s wonderful family; there is just great support. But having my kids is the most positive thing I got. I mean who knows if I wouldn’t be as close with them, or maybe they’ll use some of the ways I acted to not have that take place in their life. 

IM: If you could take it all back would you? 

TT: Yeah, I would. 

IM: What would you say to a high school student who was using it?

TT: It’s just not worth it. When you come out of it and realize how stupid you were; it’s just stupid. And it just eats at your time. 

IM: A lot of people lose trust in their loved ones who struggle with addiction. Do you think that after someone is clean that trust should be granted back?

TT: It depends on the two people in that relationship. They have to see what works for them. I think that after some time if you make it known you’re not gonna be abusing drugs anymore, that you’re going to go on the right path and turn your life around, you just have to grow. Grow from being that user person to going back to normality. Some people are just not trustworthy; it just depends on the person. I know how difficult it would be to repair a relationship with someone who was manipulative, but in a lot of cases, it is worth it to give them a second chance. 

IM: Can you briefly describe what it was like during your addiction.

TT: I don’t even like to go back there. It was just hell. I was using heroin, cocaine, meth… anything that was put in front of me, I would use. 

IM: Were you ever afraid of getting caught?

TT: You know what, there was fear because you could go through withdrawal, but no, that was not like a rational fear of mine. Not at all. 

IM: Do you think it is more difficult to stay in recovery to live with your ex-husband who struggles with addiction?

TT: This is alcohol which is not my drug of choice, so it’s a little bit different than living with someone who is using the same substances as you. Certain types of drugs that are similar can put you back to where you were before so, yeah, that could be potentially worrisome. 

 

Teresa’s oldest son Billy is also struggling with an addiction. This is her take on his struggles and her effect on his life.


IM: What has your relationship been like with him after your recovery?

TT: Strange. 

IM: Was it strange beforehand?

TT: We were very close. He was my baby, he is my baby. He is my child whom I love and is my everything. Just like the other two. 

IM: Do you blame yourself for your son’s drug abuse?

TT: Of course I do. I go through therapy to not blame myself, and it works for a little while, and then it doesn’t. 

IM: Are you afraid that what happened to Billy will happen to your other kids?

TT: No, because everything happened at a different time in their life. He was aware from the time he was younger. He remembered me and his father fighting, the divorce, he remembered everything which makes it different from the other kids.

 

You can prevent yourself from getting addicted to drugs. No matter what predicament you are in, it is never worth it to go down that path. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction you can visit the following sites or call the following numbers for more information on how to help:

SAMHSA National Helpline

Confidential free help, from public health agencies, to find substance use treatment and information.

1-800-662-4357

The Erie County Addiction Hotline

https://www4.erie.gov/addictionhotline/

I would like to say a special thank you to Teresa Thomas for working with me and spreading awareness about drug addiction.