I am a woman in long-term recovery from a Substance Use Disorder.  What that means to me is that I have been drug & alcohol free since May 27,2007.  Active addiction was a horrifying place to be.  I started using drugs at age twelve and didn’t stop until I was twenty-six.  During these years I became addicted to heroin, that first time I did it I fell in love.  Opiates made me feel numb and not have to deal with life.  Once I was dependent on them, my addiction took over my mind, body, and soul.  I truly became a different person.  All I wanted to do every day was use and find a way to get money to do so.  My life was out of control in so many ways.  When I was twenty-one I had my daughter that was addicted to heroin when she was born.  I couldn’t even quit using to help this child have a life.  The pain and shame of not being what a mommy was suppose to be kept me using for even longer.  Finally, when I was twenty-six years old I walked through The McShin Foundation’s doors.  McShin is VA’s leading peer to peer Recovery Community Organization that helps those with SUDs.  I was at home there surrounded by people just like me.  I lived in the housing for five months and now I am the CEO of McShin.  Waking up every day knowing I can help someone just like me is my purpose in life.  I’m able to be a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and leader in our community because of my recovery.  The life I lead in active addiction wasn’t fun, but it has made me who I am today.  If you are reading this, just hold on, there is hope for you too!