At the age of 29, Mia, a recovering heroine addict, and New Life resident, has lived an arduous life. She grew up with two distant and work driven parents, and from the age of five she was molested. Mia internalized this continual trauma; she did not feel protected by her parents and never thought to go to them for help. The physical and mental pain turned into a self loathing. Mia said “I never wanted to be in my body because I never had control over it, and I hated that.” Mia never felt she could truly express herself.
Then at the age of twelve she was diagnosed with three brain tumours. She had brain surgery within a week, but afterwards she had difficulty talking and her motor skills were severely damaged. The doctors gave Mia a grave prognosis and that she would never regain her balance. Mia’s doctor put her on steroids and her body reacted with various side effects. “Steroids puff you up,” Mia said – she gained almost 10 kilos of weight. Mia felt there was something wrong with her and that she was defective. From the brain surgery her voice was reduced to a whisper. Mia went back to school, but she had few friends as she couldn’t talk very loudly. She was asked to repeat herself all the time, so she eventually stopped talking.
When she was 13, she went to a birthday party that had the usual chocolate and junk food for the children to eat. Someone close to Mia had made a comment that she needed to lose weight. Mia spoke of the birthday party, “There was a lot of food and I didn’t eat anything. By not eating anything at the party, I felt very powerful. It was about controlling my body.”After that birthday party, she began to develop an eating disorder.
Then Mia started drinking alcohol. She said: “I drank to escape. I loved the lack of inhibition. I loved the person I was when I was drunk.” She was a weekend blackout binge drinker. She tried marijuana soon after, and loved the relaxed feeling it gave her. She then started taking ecstasy pills excessively. Ecstasy led to snorting cocaine and smoking crack cocaine. Upon leaving home at the age of 18 she became dependant on alcohol. Mia was a dance major at university and used cocaine all the time to control her weight. The initial drug usage led to heroin when Mia was 22 years old. She began to shoot up heroin daily with her boyfriend. But then her boyfriend was sent to jail, so she had to find a way to pay for heroin. Mia resorted to prostitution. Mia states, “ she started street-hooking due to the easy money, just to get heroin. I had to learn to be very tough.”
When Mia was 23, she went to her first addiction rehab program, for one month, after having overdosed on heroin at her grandma’s house. However, Mia didn’t go to rehab willingly. Her family did a kidnap intervention, meaning she was forced into rehab. After rehab, she used heroin again in New York City. She said, “I was homeless for around 6 months because all my money went to heroin. I had no willingness to be clean, so when I got out of rehab, my addiction continued in full force and with vigour.”
Mia spent the next five years in and out of rehabs both willingly working to be clean and being forced by family. Once Mia was clean for about 6 months, but then she relapsed on alcohol. She drank hard liquor every day. She thought “it’s not heroin, I’m fine.” After 2 to 3 weeks of daily alcohol abuse, she eventually switched to drugs which led back to using heroin. The return of her addiction to heroin led Mia to start selling the drug with her boyfriend. Together they tried to get clean, but their love of the drug would override the desire to stay sober. Finally, Mia decided to go back to home and focus on getting clean.
Her boyfriend stayed in the US and struggled with his own battle with sobriety. However, her boyfriend relapsed on heroin, and died at the age of 26. Mia says that after his death, she plummeted into an epic downward spiral. She used drugs, her eating disorders returned, and she sunk into a massive depression. “I was in devastating agony because my boyfriend was my other half, my soul mate. Today, I feel my boyfriend is my spirit guide, pushing me to get clean. He’s pushing me to stay clean.”
Mia has been clean off heroin for over 4 months now. Four months clean, and she still gets sweats and chills. She says “I am totally powerless over addiction; the power of drugs, but this makes me even more committed to doing what I’m doing today. There’s no part of me that wants to use”. Mia’s personal keys to staying clean and sober include: taking one day at a time and meditation, which help her keep connected with the Self. At New Life Mia has created a daily ritual of yoga and meditation. Mia’s experience at New Life has helped her realise, that her way didn’t work. “So I had to surrender and have the willingness to be guided. I couldn’t have done it without total honesty; it would have been impossible otherwise. Self-seeking has to stop. I have to be of service.”
Mia closes with: “I am living in the moment. I live day-by-day. I don’t think much about addiction, and that works for me. I don’t try to control events. I have learned to trust in the fabric of the universe. When I’m clean, good things happen to me.”