By Rebecca Drew
THIS MUM breastfed her daughter whilst taking painkillers – until she met her husband during a RECOVERY MEETING and turned her life around.
Stay at home mum, Ashley Doherty (29) from Riverside, California, USA, was an insecure child after her parents split up when she was seven and she saw her mum go in and out of rehab. After first trying alcohol at 13, she fell in love with the feeling of being drunk and liked how it made her forget her worries so looked forward to going out drinking.
Before long, Ashley was skipping school to get drunk and attended parties where she was introduced to weed, cocaine, ecstasy DMT, meth, oxycontin, cough syrup and painkiller pills. Alcohol and drugs made Ashley feel carefree and after a car accident in 2011 and being prescribed Norco painkillers, her addiction spiralled further.
Ashley found herself in a string of toxic relationships where she was taken advantage of and abused by men. At 21, she fell pregnant with her first child, Rylann (7) but found the strength to ditch alcohol and drugs for the duration of her pregnancy. After giving birth in August 2012 she was given Norcos for pain and she became hooked once her prescription ran out.
The new mum started to go to a dealer to get the pills and convinced herself that she wouldn’t be causing her daughter any harm despite breastfeeding. Ashley ended up taking up to 40 pills a day, drinking, doing cocaine and using other drugs in order to help her wean off pills.
Depressed and feeling guilty for not being a good mum, Ashley’s weight dropped to just 6st 9lb and after being kicked out of cosmetology school, she begged her dad to help get her into treatment, which he did. After 45 days in rehab, Ashley came out feeling like a new person but after getting back with an ex-boyfriend started drinking again.
With her family’s encouragement to attend support meetings and get a sponsor, Ashley became sober again for the sake of herself and her child. It was at an alcoholics and narcotics anonymous meeting that Ashley met her husband, Jack (35) and they fell in love and have supported each other throughout their respective recoveries.
They now have a child together, Jackson (1). Ashley is now a healthy 8st 3lb and hopes to be able to inspire others with her story.
“My parents split when I was about seven years old and my mum was also in and out of rehab. Assuming those things had taken a toll on me as a little one, I grew increasingly angry and insecure as I got a little older. Alcohol and drugs helped me to numb all of those unwanted feelings and emotions,” said Ashley.
“At the age of 13 I picked up my first drink. I was a little nervous and worried about how it would make me feel but my friend told me she had drank before, that it felt good and it was a lot of fun. I thought, ‘hell yeah’, being the depressed, anxious kid I was I’ll try anything that will make me feel good.
“After that first drink, I couldn’t stop. I drank myself into a blackout that night. The next day I couldn’t wait to do it again. I loved the warm, numb feeling it gave me. And from that moment on it was downhill.
“Hanging around with older kids I was introduced to a lot of things early on, from huffing “dust off” and NOS, to smoking weed, and doing cocaine and ecstasy. Drinking before school in the parking lot, in class from a water bottle, leaving the school prom early to go drop ecstasy. For some reason I never saw any of that as a problem.
“After I was in a bad car accident in 2011 I was prescribed Norco from the pain and I fell in love with the feeling they gave me. From then on, my addiction began to spiral out of control.”
Ashley managed to stay clean and sober throughout her pregnancy when she was 21 with her first child, she described how after giving birth she fell back into addiction.
“It was a miracle that I stayed away from alcohol and drugs that entire time. As soon as I gave birth to her and they gave me pain meds, it was back downhill again. I started abusing pills when she was two months old and continued breastfeeding the next year and a half while taking them,” she said.
“All the while her dad was smoking OxyContin and heroin. I was breastfeeding at the time but just told myself I’m only taking a few so it can’t be affecting my daughter through my breastmilk (though I’m sure it was). I felt guilty and felt like a sh*tty mum but of course I continued to take them.
“That toxic relationship came to an end pretty quickly. I moved into my grandma’s guest house with my best friend because I couldn’t afford to be on my own especially with my daughter. They made sure I always had a job or was in school.
“I was a functioning addict, so they had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors. All I was concerned about was going out and getting loaded. Pawning my daughter off on whoever would take her. Paying her dad to take her so that I was free to do what I wanted. He was still using so I knew that if I offered to pay him to take her, he would.
“If someone couldn’t take her, I would just bring the party to me. My daughter would wake up in the morning to find me still loaded from the night before and random strangers around the house. I thank God to this day that she was too little to remember any of that.
“I got kicked out of cosmetology school and had no money and knew my dad was going to lose it. I had reached my breaking point finally and asked him to get me into treatment.
“I stayed in treatment for 45 days. I felt like a whole new person. I welcomed the boyfriend I had when I went to treatment back into my life which was my first mistake. He got in my head and I started to believe that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I just went to treatment for pills. I picked up a drink with him, and the rest of the night is a blur. I went on a drinking binge all over again.
“My family threatened to send me back to treatment but I promised I would go to meetings and get a sponsor so I did just that. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, get a sponsor and make friends at meetings. I forced myself to be strong for once and cut out the toxic people I had always surrounded myself with because I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t stay clean. Doing so changed my entire life.”
Ashley shares her story on Instagram under the handle, @ashleydoherty.recovery and thanks to support groups, met her husband and has achieved the life she always dreamt of.
“My husband and I met each other at a meeting shortly after we had both got out of rehab. Technically you’re not supposed to date for a year so that you can focus on yourself and the 12 steps but the connection we had was undeniable and the best thing I had ever felt,” she said.
“We both make up where each other is lacking. We would attend meetings every single week and would spend time with our group of friends in recovery. Our relationship is so loving and so beautiful it’s something I’ve never experienced before. Neither of us could even imagine picking up a drink or drug because we know it would completely ruin every amazing thing we have going for us.
“I now have a life I would have never imagined I’d ever have. I believed you couldn’t live life without alcohol or drugs. I now have over two years clean and sober and I love my life. I met my husband at a meeting in recovery. We had a baby. I got accepted back into cosmetology school and got my license.
“I finally have confidence and I’m finally proud of myself. I’ve never felt so peaceful and so happy in my entire life. It would have never happened if it weren’t for recovery.”
Finally, Ashley shared her words of support to others.
“It feels so good knowing I can possibly help and inspire other addicts like myself. For quite some time I felt like maybe my story leading to recovery wasn’t as crazy as others because I never slammed drugs or ended up in jail etc and so why would people want to hear it. Since I’ve decided to just share it anyway I’ve realised how many people there are that can relate,” she said.
“I’ve had people reach out to me to tell me how I’ve been an inspiration to them and it’s just an indescribable feeling. I would’ve never seen myself as inspiring but apparently I am. It just feels great knowing I can offer hope to others and show that that it is so possible if you want it.
“Always reach out for help. Never be scared or worried about what others may think. You could be just one choice away from either losing your life or completely changing your life for the better.
“Your life is more important than what others may think. Make friends in recovery. That is what helped me stay clean. You have to cut out the negative influences and toxic relationships in your life or there’s no way you will stay clean and sober.
“It will always give you a reason to pick up that drink or drug. The friendships you form in recovery will be such an important part in helping keep you clean and sober because we all understand one another and offer one another inspiration and motivation.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/ashleydoherty.recovery