Samantha Johansen | Survivor of Addiction

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I was raised in the cathedral area in Sioux Falls. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old and tried their marriage again the next year. We moved to a small town of Worthing, only 20 minutes south of Sioux Falls. Everyone knew everyone and if you got into trouble your parents heard about it up town. I started working as a newspaper carrier at an early age so I could buy things for myself. I don't remember being unemployed since I was 10 years old.

My first drink of alcohol was at a wedding when I was 12 years old and I liked it. My parents split up for good when I turned 13.  My freshmen year in high school I worked two jobs and I was going to school every day.  I was drinking rum every weekend and always ended up drunk and feeling sick. That summer I started smoking marijuana and I tried meth. I liked meth more than anything because I was able to finish more things that needed to be done with school and I didn't feel tired all the time. Eventually, alcohol and meth caught up with me and I was arrested with my first underage at age 14 at a house party. I went to a 45 day treatment center in Huron, SD. I stayed 30 days but never completed their program. When I got out, I didn't drink as much as I did before and I continued to work 3 jobs instead of 2 and go to school to stay busy so I didn't fall back in to my old habits.  Out of high school I started smoking marijuana again on a daily basis. From there if I think back to any holiday or celebration I was either drunk or high on meth or an opiate of some sort. I enjoyed snorting Oxycotin pills just as much as I enjoyed meth.

When I was 24 years old, I gave birth to my first son. He was such a good baby. Being a new mom I suffered from postpartum depression and I was upset about my weight so my doctor started me on anti-depressants. I quit taking my anti-depressants after 3 months. I wanted to lose weight fast so I started using meth again and I lost 50 pounds in less than 6 months. I don't think I had ever felt so alone as this time in my entire life. I felt I was neglecting my 1 year old son at the time and other positive friends and family. I knew I needed help but I feared going back to treatment because I didn't want to be away from my son for 30 days.

I tried to stop using meth on my own and I relapsed on the 4th day, if not sooner. I continued to smoke marijuana on a daily basis. A family member could see I wasn't going anywhere good and they offered to take care of son for 30 days while I got better. I admitted myself into Tallgrass Recovery in March of 2013, when I was 25 years old, and I've been sober ever since. I had a hard time connecting with my higher power at Tallgrass, so I agreed to take a silent retreat for 24 hours where I tried not to speak to anyone. I began to connect with my higher power, who I call God. When I got out of treatment, I stayed connected to my sponsor and I found a new sponsor closer to where I lived. I went to AA meetings twice a week.

Living the sober life is the life for me. I may not be able to control everything I need to get done in one day. At least I know I'm sober and have my freedom from drugs and alcohol.  Now I have 2 sons that amaze me every day and I still make it to AA meetings when I can so I can help other people who are suffering from the same addictions as me. I feel blessed every day I'm alive.