‘Get in the car,’ my mom forcefully tells me. My mind is racing. Turning me into jail? Where are we going? The drive feels like an eternity.’ She parks. ‘Do you see this place?,’ she chokes out.’

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“‘Get in the car. We are going on a drive,’ my mom forcefully tells me. My mind is racing. Back to rehab? Turning me into jail? Where are we going? The drive feels like an eternity. We finally pull into a trailer park and my mom parks the car. ‘Do you see this place?,’ she asks. ‘With the path you’re on and decisions you are making, this is where you’re going to end up. And that’s if you’re lucky,’ she chokes out, tears rolling down her face…

The first time I had a drink was around 10-11 years old, I asked my mother to try her wine. Most kids are disgusted by the taste of alcohol the first time they try it… I loved it. By 13-14 I was getting high and drunk on a regular basis on whatever I could get my hands on. At this young age, I would regularly resort to huffing paint and drinking stolen over-the-counter cough syrup when I couldn’t get my hands on weed, booze or prescription pills. I was put in handcuffs for the first time at 14 when I stole my own mother’s bike. I was constantly ditching school, facing truancy charges at 15 years old. I was hanging out, getting high and drunk with the homeless and running away from home on a regular basis, occasionally sleeping on park and bus station benches. Stealing cash out of my parents’ wallets and taking anything of value of theirs to trade for drugs or cash. After getting caught with prescription pills in my backpack and showing up positive for cocaine on a drug test, my parents didn’t know what to do with me anymore. So at the young age of 15 years old, I was sent away to a wilderness treatment center.

Over the next year I was in and out of wilderness treatment. Ending up in a sober living home that I was eventually kicked out of for relapsing. So, I dropped out of high school and moved out on my own at 16 years old. I did everything I needed to do to eat, pay rent and survive. I worked hard, but I used drugs even harder. The older I got, the harder the drugs got and the heavier my drinking got.

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

I met a girl at 17, it was ‘love at first sight’ and we moved in together within a week of meeting each other. She drank and got high like I did; she was also bipolar, clinically diagnosed and unmedicated. It didn’t take long for our relationship to become insanely toxic and dysfunctional. Our relationship had a pull, a passion, an ‘I need you to breathe’ feeling to it. Like the drugs, she had a grip on my heart, my life, my emotions, my everything. I worshipped her and despised her at the same time. She would hit me, yell at me, tell me how much she hated me. We would drink, do some lines and get high just to fall in love all over again every night. We would fight so we could feel something. We would break up just to make up. I would yell at her to get out of my life, delete my number and never talk to me again, just to end up blowing up her phone and begging for her back. We would lie to each other constantly, always apologizing and saying it would never happen again. She would swing and beat on me while I called her psycho, just encouraging her to swing harder. We would call each other Bonnie and Clyde, but the way we poisoned each other, the truth was, it was more like Romeo and Juliet.

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

When I drank alcohol, I was guaranteed to drink until I blacked out. There was no question about it, and there was no amount of alcohol that was too much. I didn’t get the spins anymore, I never threw up, I just blacked out and continued to drink. Every morning I woke up with the shakes, needing to consume alcohol to make them go away, repeating the blackout drinking cycle on a daily basis. I continued sleeping random places and houses, getting arrested every few months and hustling up money for booze, coke and pills by middle manning drug deals. Finally, I sat in jail for 2 weeks, sobering up enough to decide that it was time to check myself into rehab. I had lost everything in my life, I literally had nothing left to lose.

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

I completed my fourth inpatient rehab, 90 days, then went onto a sober living home. I got to 10 months sober, then relapsed yet again. My life spiraled out of control faster in the next 30 days than ever before. The way I react to alcohol, when that first drink hits my lips, something happens to my brain; a switch is flipped in me that I can’t explain. I want more, more and more and nothing in my life will stop me from consuming more. It’s the only thing I think about, how I’m going to stay drunk and get high next. Everything in my life can be crumbling around me, relationships getting destroyed and I WILL NOT STOP until I am physically stopped… usually meaning a few cops, handcuffs and a jail cell. And as usual, my relapse ended me up in Glenwood County Jail.

I stepped out of Glenwood County Jail with nothing but a few loose one dollar bills and three cigarettes in my pant pockets; missing a shoe, blood splattered down the front of my ripped white t-shirt and zero memory of my arrest. Getting released back into the world, broke, with no place to live. Taking my decisions hour by hour, minute by minute. The obsession of the mind took over every bit of my being. The non-stop mental battle began to keep from picking up that first drink or drug again. Leading into this moment, my relapse was filled with drunken blackouts, bottomless bottles of vodka and rum, motel rooms and sleepless benders with dilated pupils. All the chaotic events strung together that led me to this rock bottom that left me mentally and spiritually broken – like never before. This rock bottom had me swearing myself off as a lost cause; destined to be a drunken, drug addict, jailbird for the rest of my miserable life. So in that moment, I faced the biggest decision of my life. Either go back to the lifestyle, with no guarantee of ever making it back out alive; or fight for my life with everything I had. I had to fight.

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

At 8 years sober, I had an urge to drink, a feeling I had not felt in years. The addiction demons inside me were awakened, the obsession of the mind I knew all too well came back full force. I was terrified, my heart never wanted to drink again, my mind was giving me every reason to pick up. Lost in a mind that was trying to destroy me, I went to the only place I knew I was safe, my last resort to calm my urges. She had been asleep for a few hours, I stood by her crib and stared at the greatest gift I had ever been given in my life, my beautiful baby girl. As I looked at her, tears flooded out of me uncontrollably. I couldn’t drink, if not for me in that moment, for her. She needs her father sober, that is the only way she will get the father she deserves. All this time, I have been doing everything it takes so that my daughter will never see me high. I wasn’t going to stop now, that wasn’t an option. She will probably never know this, but that night, she saved me from picking up and using. She saved my life.

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

I have been sober since June 24th, 2010. My life now is an absolute blessing. I’ve achieved all the things in my life I once never thought was possible. I used to not be able to hold a job, now I have a career I enjoy and thrive in. I used to be so selfish and self-centered, now I am pursuing my dream of opening a sober house, giving back to a group of people I hold so close to my heart. I used to be homeless living a chaotic life, now I’m a homeowner and productive member of society. And even with all the other successes in my life, my greatest achievement in sobriety is, and always will be, my daughter.”

Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan
Courtesy of Terin DeVoto Noonan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Terin DeVoto Noonan of Fort Collins, Colorado. You can follow his recovery journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more empowering stories of people overcoming their addictions:

‘Our daughter has been placed in protective custody,’ my husband said. ‘We will deal with that later,’ I remember replying. Because first, I needed to get high.’

‘I was ABANDONED on my grandma’s front porch with a note that said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ My own mother said those five words about me when I was only 8 months old.’

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