Morgan was home with her 2-year-old daughter when a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her door and delivered shocking news: Morgan’s boyfriend did not actually own the house they shared, as he’d claimed, and he was deeply in debt. They were being evicted.
As sheriff’s movers hauled her belongings to the yard, Morgan, 29, sobbed, struggling to breathe, wondering what she’d tell her 12-year-old son.
That’s when a girlfriend came over, handed her a piece of foil, said, “This will make you feel better.”
“And it did,” Morgan recalls.
Until it didn’t.
The day of her eviction was the first time Morgan tried heroin, but she was already struggling with addiction.
She’d started using ecstasy at 14, then moved on to pain pills she’d get from her father.
She also drank — a lot.
“Nobody in my family had any coping skills when life got hard,” says Morgan, who became a single mom at 18. “We all just drank and took drugs.”
Morgan graduated college and held a number of jobs but then entered into an abusive relationship and began drinking more heavily.
Always treading water, she did her best to take care of her son but remained in denial about her addiction.
“My son was in Boy Scouts, and I showed up to parent-teacher conferences. I was like, ‘I’ve got this.’ But really, I was slowly killing myself. At birthday parties, I had a to-go cup full of alcohol. There was never not alcohol. It seemed normal.”
At 27, Morgan gave birth to her daughter, then became addicted to the Percoset she was prescribed after delivery. After leaving her abusive partner, she was thrilled to be “rescued” by the boyfriend who turned out to be a fraud.
After she was evicted by the sheriff, Morgan crashed with a friend but essentially lived out of her car. Then, the car got repossessed.
“It was like, Can my life get any worse?”
The answer was yes.
Unable to find stable housing, Megan placed her children in the care of others while she lived with a cousin who also struggled with addiction.
“I used to think, “How could she pick drugs over her children?’ But I was doing the same thing.”
When Morgan’s cousin lost the apartment, Morgan found herself homeless. She hotel hopped for a while, then found refuge in an abandoned warehouse, all the while longing to reunite with her children.
At one point, she quit heroin cold turkey and moved in with her alcohol-dependent mom.
“I desperately tried to get it together,” Morgan recalls. “But I didn’t know how. No one in my family had been in recovery. I was very lonely.”
Morgan stayed sober for 80 days, but when friends reached out, she says, “I jumped on that.”
Embarrassed to tell her mom she’d gone back to heroin, Morgan moved out, landing back on the streets.
To maintain her heroin supply, Morgan bartered with her dealer, stealing from Walmart and Home Depot. “She’d give me a list of things she needed, like a faucet or spray paint,” Morgan says.
Morgan was arrested eight times, usually for stealing. In jail, she’d suffer badly from withdrawal — diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, brutal headaches, watery eyes.
“The whole time, a little voice inside would be screaming, ‘GET SOME HEROIN RIGHT NOW.’ You can’t hear anything else, see anything else. It’s relentless.”
In jail, Morgan began journaling and drawing, dissecting the events that led to her unraveling, hoping one day she’d reunite with her children.
It was around this time that Morgan’s father, addicted to drugs and alcohol for decades, got sober. At first, Morgan didn’t believe it. When he came near, she’d inhale deeply, trying to detect alcohol on his breath.
But he was for real, and he wasn’t giving up on Morgan. Once or twice a week, he’d visit her on the street, delivering food, a jacket, a new tarp.
“His eyes would be full of tears,” Morgan recalls. “He’d tell me, ‘One day sober will be 100 times better than your best day out here.’”
Morgan told him: “If he could do it, I would.”
As Christmas neared, Morgan felt cold, lonely, and tired — ready to see her children, ready for a different life. She let her dad bring her to detox.
“I’m going to be fixed,” she thought.
But she didn’t have a post-detox treatment plan and quickly went back to the street. A second detox attempt failed, too.
Her father never stopped coming to visit. “You can do this,” he’d say.
Morgan continued to fill journals, handing them to her father for safe keeping. She’d fish postcards and stickers out of a dumpster and mail them to her children, along with goofy pictures she had drawn.
“I told my kids how much I loved them and missed them,” Morgan says. “I wanted to start building our connection back up.”
By this time, Morgan was so sick from drugs, malnutrition, and stress that her hair was falling out — “chunks and chunks of it.” She began wearing a beanie.
Longing for sobriety and stability, she secured transitional housing and entered detox for the third time. The day she was released, her dad drove her to Ideal Option.
“I was afraid it wouldn’t work, that I was going to let everybody down again,” Morgan says.
Morgan was prescribed Suboxone and almost immediately, she felt calm. “Something clicked in my brain that had never clicked before,” she says. “My brain wasn’t racing. I wasn’t looking to be fulfilled.”
Walking to her morning AA meetings, she felt hopeful — a feeling she’d never experienced.
For several months she attended intensive outpatient treatment while living in a sober house. A new friend who worked at the Dollar Tree recommended Morgan for a job there, too. Morgan shaved off what remained of her hair and applied.
“The manager took a chance on a brand-new sober chick with a shaved head,” she says.
“I felt useful, a part of a community again.”
Today, Morgan works as a recovery navigator for Washington state, helping folks arrested for drug-related crimes find treatment and housing.
Her entire family is now sober — her dad, her mom, her brother, and herself.
Morgan lives with her children at her mom’s house and has rebuilt her relationships with her son and daughter.
“We’ve cried things out, and we’re building our way back. It’s such a privilege to be their mom.”
Sometimes Morgan takes a moment for herself out of her busy, full days and thinks: Look at how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished.
“I’m so thankful,” she says. “I could be dead right now, but I’m not. I’m functioning like a totally normal human.”