52 Addicts Recap #4

Martinsburg, WV Heroin Epidemic

It’s been a while since I did an update for my community service project aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding opioid addiction. I have seen so many positive changes in our community since I started this project, and I am hopeful that we can get through this horrible epidemic that is taking so many lives and destroying so many others. If you are new here, check out this post to learn about the project. With that, here is update #4 of the 52Addicts Project!

Update #1 can be found at this link.

Update #2 can be found at this link.

Update #3 can be found at this link.

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As an ER nurse for over 11 years, Hope’s mom has cared for OD’s day in and day out. For a long time, she admits that she thought that if the person really wanted help then they could just stop on their own. She admits to being especially frustrated with people who came in to the ER multiple times for an overdose. Her world changed last October at work when her own daughter’s name came up on the board with the word “overdose” beside it. She completely lost it and started screaming for her daughter… Hope was sexually assaulted at 13 years old. She used pills to mask the pain, which eventually turned to heroin use. Throughout her years of addiction, her mom didn’t understand how someone could keep going back to drugs and destroying their life. Their relationship was deteriorating, and eventually they stopped speaking. It was during this time that Hope overdosed not once, but twice. One of the overdoses was videotaped by “friends” who thought it was funny that she was turning purple. Luckily, someone tried to drive her to the ER and was stopped by a police officer who saved her life with Narcan for the last time she would ever need it. She had just overdosed 3 days earlier at the ER where she remembers waking up to her mother’s screams of “Where is my daughter? Let me see her! Is she alive?!?” Hope’s story is changing today. She was taken under the wing of a medical doctor who she calls her hero who has invested so much of his time in her recovery. They are all a part of the Healthcare Advocates for Recovery in Martinsburg, whose mission is to create a network of resources for prevention, treatment and recovery here in the Eastern Panhandle. Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts

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Chel’s academic success put her on a path to university where she planned to study law. No one ever worried about her future. They worried about her sister, who had fallen down a dark path earlier in life. One night, Chel made a fateful decision to join her sister at a strip club in WV, where she worked as a stripper. Chel became entranced by the world of money and fun that she had been introduced to that night. She began working nights at the club, using uppers to stay awake in school during the day. She ended up pregnant and tried to change her life. When things went downhill with the baby’s father, she went back to the party scene which led to snorting pills, then to heroin. She continued using until she found out she was pregnant again. She was able to quit for the duration of her pregnancy, but her old friends came back around soon after the baby was born. Chel descended into a life of stealing to support her addiction. She made the decision to go to the hospital for help, but ended up in ICU after complications from withdrawals. She relapsed and ended up having her children taken away. Her world was suddenly darker without her children. Her addiction took over, and even though she overdosed, she continued to use every day until she ended up in jail. This gave her time to rediscover her faith. Someone had suggested that praying aloud was more effective, and even though she felt silly doing so, she went ahead and tried it for herself. This led to a transcendent experience in which she felt the presence of God by her side. She was overcome with emotion and wasted no time in telling her loved ones about her newfound certainty of God’s existence and the love that she knew would get her through the rest of her life. Since her release Chel has been reunited with her children and continues to do an amazing job on her recovery with Bible in hand.🔸 Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. #52Addicts A post shared by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Sitting down with Tatiana at her new home felt like hanging out with an old friend. She is warm and welcoming with a contagious smile. We talked about things that mothers tend to talk about with each other: pediatricians, deciding on the right school, the behaviors of each of our kids, and the delicate balance of disciplining them when they need to learn right from wrong. She mostly struggles with this last point, because while she wants to raise great kids she doesn’t want to hurt them more than they have already been hurt and end up doing more harm than good. She explains how she suspects they have been abused by an ex-boyfriend, and how they have endured the pain of living through life with her as an addict. When she was 18 years old and a single mom she became a dancer at a Berkeley County strip club. What was supposed to be a short stint to help her raise money to support her son became an addiction to the lifestyle at the club, which started her addiction to pills. As she says, “From there, life took me down fast and I felt stuck in that life.” Over the next several years her pill addiction became a heroin addiction and she lived in many different situations, including being homeless on a few occasions as well as being in multiple abusive relationships. Eventually, she finally had enough and moved out of Martinsburg and started her journey in recovery. Listening to her tell her story, I found it incredible that she maintains this glow about her even while talking about some of the most painful parts of her past. You can feel the love she has for her kids when she talks about how they keep her going, and you can see that love reciprocated when they tackle her in the backyard and squeeze so tight that you think they’ll never let go.🌟 Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts

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David & Michelle have been together for over 20 years and had many great times building their family before addiction entered their lives. David had been in a serious car accident when he was 17 which left him with a steel rod in his arm, and a prescription for painkillers. He took his medication without any problems until his body could heal. Over the years, as long hard days of manual labor took its toll on him, his old injuries started to have a huge impact on his life. He ended up needing painkillers to ease the pain so he could continue to work. Every now and then Michelle would take a pill to ease a headache, and found that the pills gave her a boost of energy. It was during this time that they had 2 young children, and she loved that she could get so much done while still taking care of her little ones. Over time, they both grew addicted to the pills, and when doctors started cracking down on prescriptions, they had to go to the streets for their supply. They owned a home outside Martinsburg in Spring Mills, and soon found that there was an abundance of dealers in that area, even though there is a common perception that it is a quiet, safe area to raise a family. Their years of addiction were filled with heartache, including losing very close friends to overdoses. Last year, they decided to get clean and moved in with Michelle’s mom briefly to get through the worst of it and away from the drug activity in Spring Mills. Once they were clean, they moved back into their home and looked forward to getting their lives back on track. Unfortunately, being in the same area as their old dealers didn’t work and they quickly relapsed. They realized that to stay clean, they needed to sell their home and move to a new area. While they are still in Berkeley County, they feel like they are a world away from where they used to be, and have done very well in their recovery. Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes. #52Addicts A post shared by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Many locals know this amazing man from his barbecue stand, Sewell’s Ribs & Chicken. Lorin and his family come out on most weekends to Queen Street to deliver the best-tasting BBQ I’ve had outside of North Carolina. Have a conversation with Lorin, and he will eventually talk about his relationship with God and how he dedicates his life to spreading God’s message. Lorin had an intense struggle with addiction, but mostly talks about how his life has completely changed since God cured him from that affliction. He speaks joyfully about his evangelism, so I wanted to incorporate his church into our shoot. My daughter and I visited him at the historic St. Paul African Methodist Church in downtown Winchester and met some of his church family, as well as caught up with the pastor’s wife who is a friend of mine. I loved the spirit radiating from this group of worshippers, and adored Lorin’s uplifting enthusiasm for life. I’m so grateful to have people like Lorin in this community to show that addiction is not what defines someone, and so many people DO change! If you need a pick-me-up, or some seriously great ribs, come out to Queen Street and look for the big red barbecue truck! Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #addict #Stigma #Heroin #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #Epidemic #Hope #Inspiration #roadtorecovery #soberissexy #clean #sober #na #aa #naranon #12steps #overdose #recovery

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Brittany loves being mommy to her sweet little boy. He has been a source of light through years of constant darkness. Brittany’s addiction started several years ago when she was offered a pain pill after a long 16 hour shift at work. After more long shifts where the pills were easing her aches and pains she soon found herself addicted to them and her addiction took over her life. As the years went by, life kept getting harder and she ended up losing custody of her son to her parents. She has overdosed six times and she explains that each time she was brought back she saw her son’s face surrounded by light. He is what kept her going for so long and what eventually pushed her into long-term recovery. Her parents never stopped fighting for her and like so many parents and loved ones, they suffered right along with her through her addiction. They made tough choices and gave her a choice between jail and rehab. She chose rehab, and after a short term rehab in Florida did not work out for very long when she returned home, her parents knew that she needed something more substantial. She was lucky to find a spot in a 12 to 18 month program in Keyser, WV which has proven to be her saving grace. Brittany is so excited to now be spending much of her time with her son and the rest of her family. She loves that she is now able to support herself with a good job and her own roof over her head. All thanks to her loving family who never gave up on her, and that sweet boy who provided all the inspiration she needed to keep fighting for her life. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts A post shared by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Meet Trey. He grew up in Inwood and was on the Musselman wrestling team when he was 14 years old. During practice one day he broke his ankle and was prescribed Percocet. He became dependent on the pills for the next three years, and eventually turned to heroin which was cheaper and more readily available. He finished high school and went to Shepherd University as a Fine Arts Major. He is a wonderful artist, and one of his goals is to get an apprenticeship at a tattoo shop. His addiction caused him to total his car, which made him rely on rides from friends and family to get to classes. Getting rides became harder, so he eventually had to drop out and start working full-time at Quad Graphics. He ended up excelling at Quad, and became a machine operator. Quad gave him a great opportunity to move out of the area and run a machine at a plant in Wisconsin, so he took it. Unfortunately, he was still in active addiction, which led him to his first felony with a possession charge and eventually he went to jail for a year. He then came back to Martinsburg and started working at the local Quad again. He has lost count how many times he has overdosed, but once was in the bathroom at work where he awoke in a pile of vomit. He ended up in jail again with a parole violation, and this time was able to get into a new intensive outpatient at the Day Report Center here in Martinsburg. It was there that he finally realized that he really wanted to be free of his addiction, and start a new life. He wanted it for himself, as well as for his 4 year old son, who he rarely sees anymore due to his addiction. He is still hanging on fiercely, and I am optimistic that one day I will walk into the best tattoo shop in the area and see his smiling face behind the tattoo gun. Please keep Trey in your thoughts (and if you pray, send up some special prayers for this guy tonight). Happy New Year’s Eve everybody, and STAY SAFE!!! Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts

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