By Amanda Dugger
I came from a family where drinking was a normal occurrence and my family socialized by drinking alcohol. My mother was an alcoholic and misused variety of prescribed and non-prescribed medications.
At a very young age, I was offered a beer. I didn’t like the taste, but I love the feeling. This feeling of numbness [led] me down my own path of misusing alcohol and other substances. By the time I was in middle school, I experimented with marijuana & hard liquor.
In 1997, my senior year in high school, I made the choice to drive under the influence. I crashed my car [and] I ended up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury that left me with suffering from seizures and migraines. Not too long after I graduated from High School, I was prescribed oxycodone’s once again I found that feeling of numbness. I became addicted to oxycodone as well as meth.
I struggled with my drug misuse for many years until one day in 2005, I sat down on my couch and could not feel my left arm or side of my face. My father, who to this day I call my hero, rushed me to the hospital—which I am glad he did because I found out at the young age of 27 years old, I suffered a stroke.
This event really scared me, and I realized that the only person who could change my future was me.
When I was recovering from my stroke in the hospital, I had a wonderful nurse who took care of me. Each day, she would greet me by saying, “Today is a new day for a new beginning.” This quote really struck a chord with me.
After I left the hospital, I was determined to stay clean and sober. I found hope in my small support system: my dad, husband, daughter, sister, and [a] few friends. After losing my mother in 2008 from her own struggles with substance misuse, I found hope in knowing she was able to see me live a clean and sober life.
Today I have been clean and sober going on 17 years. I have dedicated my life to help those who are struggling with drug misuse. I am all about prevention and especially helping our youth to find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety. I furthered my education by obtaining my bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology and have numerous certificates in treatment and prevention. I work in the prevention world by educating our youth and community members on the effects of marijuana, vaping, nicotine, and other substances.
I learned through my struggles [with] drug misuse [that] the reason why I was always chasing the feeling of numbness was to deal with heartache and pain I suffered as a young girl. Once I stop chasing that feeling of numbness, I found the true me. My message to all those who are struggling with substance misuse: You are loved; you are worthy and remember: Today is a new day for a new beginning.
Addiction can sometimes feel hopeless for those struggling with the disease, and for their families and loved ones. These stories speak to the overwhelming challenges of addiction—and offer hope for healing and recovery. They are the stories of our neighbors in the Spokane community, told with immense courage, with the hope of encouraging others in their fight. We are in this together.