A few years back, Brittany was having dreams — lots of them — about getting high.
“I dreamed about all the ways I could get high without getting caught, the sneaky things I could do,” Brittany recalls.
But Brittany, now 32, didn’t sneak around. Instead, she called Ideal Option for help.
It was a step she wouldn’t have taken in her twenties, when she relapsed over and over on heroin and meth. But this time, Brittany had even more at stake: a happy marriage, a thriving business, the fun of cheering for her kids at soccer games and track meets.
“I was worried about relapsing and knew I had to do something different than in the past,” says Brittany.
Her addiction began at age 15, when Brittany tried meth with friends. “I was a misfit, and my dad wasn’t in my life, and I had a lot of emotional problems,” she says. “Drugs were my escape.”
That same year, Brittany got pregnant. Her mom promised to adopt the baby but changed her mind. Before long, Brittany gave custody of her baby daughter to an aunt and uncle, infuriating her mom and creating more family tension.
“I wasn’t ready for any of it,” she says. “I didn’t want to be a parent.”
Some days Brittany went to school high; some days she didn’t go at all. Once, she skipped truancy court to attend a party that got busted and spent the weekend in jail.
For years, Brittany’s life would follow a grim pattern: she’d quit using for a while, then plunge deeper into addiction.
She had another daughter, then lost a boy at birth after a drug-free but difficult pregnancy and a tragic complication at delivery.
“I didn’t deal with the death of my son,” says Brittany, who sought refuge in heroin.
She stayed in a rocky relationship with the baby’s father and used a lot. One day, while high, she and a friend stole a gun from her sister’s house. Her sister had her arrested and then paid for Brittany’s admission to inpatient drug treatment.
“My sister was there for me, and I’ll never forget it,” Brittany says. “That was one of the turning points in my addiction. I started to realize the hurt I was putting everyone through.”
After treatment, Brittany moved in with her sister and achieved some stability, delivering pizzas for Domino’s. She felt good about contributing to the rent but began drinking heavily.
“My family sat me down and said, ‘You’re just trading one drug for another,’” Brittany recalls. The lecture only made her mad.
She turned to meth and would get high on the job. “I’d have my dealer order pizza, so I could stop at her house while I worked.”
Brittany’s sister caught on and kicked her out. For a while, Brittany lived in her car while relatives cared for her younger daughter.
Desperate for a place to stay, Brittany moved in with an abusive boyfriend who was addicted to alcohol and had several kids of his own.
“He would beat me, and I just kept putting up with it and getting high behind his back,” Brittany says.
For a while, Brittany didn’t work, staying home with all the kids and using drugs.
“I thought I was a piece of crap, a junkie — all that stuff was just engraved in my head. The drugs numbed everything.”
After each beating, her boyfriend would apologize and promise to change. But the abuse continued, even when Brittany got pregnant again and gave birth two months early.
She stayed off drugs during her pregnancy, but her sobriety didn’t last. After her boyfriend threw a phone at her in front of their baby, Brittany took her son and left.
“Something clicked,” she says, “and I was done.”
She began intensive outpatient treatment and after a long, hostile court fight, won custody of her son.
Today, Brittany is married to a man who’s also in recovery. They jointly own a home and a contracting business and have a happy blended family.
“My relationship is like night and day,” Brittany says. “I can’t believe what I used to put up with.”
Brittany says Suboxone has kept her drug cravings at bay, along with her dreams about getting high on the sly. Still, she doesn’t take her recovery for granted.
“I have days when my past comes into my mind,” she says. “My husband knows my signs, and I know his, and we keep an eye on each other.”
Some days, Brittany says, she finds herself shocked by the sheer normalcy of the life she and her husband lead.
“It amazes me how far we’ve come.”