Fentanyl Overdose, Cocaine, Drug Addiction & Alcoholism

by Candace Bruce | March 10, 2019

When I was 5 years old I never envisioned myself at 22 years old in fentanyl overdose, using cocaine, with a drug addiction and alcoholism. In fact, I thought I would be a veterinarian because I liked animals. I was using drugs in high school and drinking quite a bit, but I was still good student… well mediocre, I could’ve been a good student. My parents found weed in my room and alcohol in my car and took away my car keys for a month. At the time I thought, thank god it was just weed and alcohol! There could’ve been times they found so much more. As I look at this time in my life, it would be easy to write it off as experimenting with drugs and alcohol, but little did I know it was the beginning of addiction and alcoholism.

The truth is, I didn’t feel like I fit in at school. I wanted to, but I had a hard time balancing the work required for school and being accepted. There were people being bullied for excelling and I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I underperformed and then felt bad about myself. Depressed set in, and didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about it. Statements like, “who cares what others think” made sense, but didn’t seem to apply as an option to survive. Trying to understand how it seemed it didn’t matter to some and yet, somehow it mattered to me was a problem without an attainable solution.

My alcoholism and addiction increased

Fentanyl Overdose, Cocaine, Drug Addiction & Alcoholism

My parents seemed desperate to just get me through high school with the hope of going to college. This didn’t leave much room to resolve this internal struggle I was feeling. They were also reasonably distracted as my grandmother had had a stroke and was living at our home. It was hard to say I was having a hard time when her health was declining and she eventually passed. So, I tried to stay out of the way, got high and hung out with my friends when I could.

I did graduate and went to college. It felt like the pressure was off and my parents were pleased with me, but I still had these feelings like I didn’t belong. Partying at night and on the weekend and keeping up in school became a struggle. Feelings of guilt and shame were overwhelming. While, I couldn’t name it then, it was like I knew I was letting them down and letting myself down too.

One night I was at a friend’s dorm drinking and doing drugs. On the way back to my dorm we were in a car accident and the driver, my friend, was badly injured in the accident and had to withdraw from college. I was distraught. My parents pulled me out of school and brought me home to attend a community college, because it ALL just seemed too much. At this point I felt like a failure. Moreover, I was depressed about my friend. All I could think about was the things we could have done differently. I dropped out of college and worked at a local coffee shop. My alcoholism and addiction increased.

The Progression of Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Cocaine and Fentanyl Overdose

Late one afternoon, I called in sick at work and went over to a friend’s house to drink and get high. We had some cocaine. The next thing I remembered was realizing I was at the hospital; my parents were there too. I was confused. They, my parents, and the medical staff were telling me how I overdosed on Fentanyl. I didn’t understand, I never used fentanyl. The doctor told they had to revive me, I argued, “revive me from what?” I didn’t understand. My parents kept telling me, “please stop you don’t need to lie, we know.” Again, “I have never used fentanyl.” They were crying, I was crying.

My parents had been speaking with an addiction interventionist unbeknownst to me prior to this whole thing, who was also in the hospital room. I asked the doctor to please explain what was going on. She said my drug test was positive for cocaine and fentanyl and that I had overdose on fentanyl and the police were called and they used Narcan. I couldn’t believe it, I was sobbing.

Detox and Drug Treatment From Fentanyl Overdose, Cocaine, Drug Addiction and Alcoholism

I told my parents I did use cocaine, but I did not use fentanyl. My parents were still defensive, but the addiction interventionist stepped in and said the cocaine could have had fentanyl in it. Surprisingly, it is common now for drug dealers to cut cocaine with fentanyl to enhance the effects and increase the addictive result, BUT it also increases the incidence of overdose and fatalities; here I am – a statistic. That was the only thing that made sense and at the same time completely terrified me. I died! I don’t want to die, I didn’t want to die, I was just getting high with friends.

The addiction interventionist started to talk about addiction and said I needed help. Honesty I am not really sure what he said after that, I just said ok. It was all too much, this, my using, had just gone too far. I was scared. While I didn’t know what was next, I just knew I didn’t want to do this anymore in that moment.

There was Hope

My family and the interventionist took me into treatment. After a few days in fentanyl drug and alcohol detox my head start spinning and I really wasn’t sure I needed to be there. Outpatient seemed like enough. The staff really pushed back on me. They called my parents, and the interventionist, who once again, encouraged me to just give it some time. I started working with my therapist and counselor and so much started to come up for me. All the grief and loss that I had pushed down with using cocaine and alcohol – with my drug addiction and alcoholism. I started to feel sad for me and relief, lost time, lost pieces of me, pieces I gave away and pieces I was regaining. Fortunately, I became willing to stay and see if something different was possible for me. I had some hope.

After 90 days in treatment then 90 days in outpatient putting my life back together, life looks different. In hindsight what a short period of time compared to the amount of time I had spent in the wake of the destruction of my alcoholism and addiction – years of unworthiness, self-hatred, and living a half-life. I just finished my Bachelor’s degree, I feel good about myself, I found “my” place where I fit in. My parents don’t live in constant fear. Sure it’s not perfect and every now and then I still wonder if I deserve this goodness and then I remember all the badness and do not want to give up what I have worked so hard for. I am worth it!