Mary Johnson grew up in a small town, in what she calls “an extremely supportive and what some would consider pretty ‘cushy’ household.” High school, said Johnson, was “amazing” for her; she always had a lot of friends and has always enjoyed socializing. Johnson said, “I probably started drinking when I was 16 or so, and it wasn't long after that, I would smoke pot. Smoking weed led to me trying mushrooms, ecstasy and acid. By the time I was 18, I had done pretty much every drug out there aside from opiates.”
Johnson said it might sound like denial, but she was always able to do drugs recreationally. “I could do some blow at a party and not want for it for another 6+ months, that sort of thing.” When she was 19 she decided to try college, so she went to the University of Michigan. Johnson said that lasted a year because she was too interested in the social scene and sleeping in than going to school. She moved home and worked odd and end jobs. When she was 20 she met a guy from Detroit. She moved in with him a month later.
Johnson’s parents and friends were confused and devastated. After a few weeks of living with “this pretty much complete stranger,” Johnson discovered that the guy was a hardcore heroin addict. Alone and embarrassed, she didn’t know what to do. She felt trapped. “My decision to move so abruptly left me feeling like I couldn't tell anyone what was really going on, so I lied and faked as if everything was going okay and that we were making a life for ourselves in Detroit.”
After almost a year of overdoses, physical and mental abuse, and insanity, Johnson gave up and decided to “show” her boyfriend what it was like to live with a drug addict. So she tried heroin for the first time. “It was surreal how low I had put myself. I didn't even recognize who I was anymore.” This was not the life her parents, friends, family or she had envisioned. By the time she was 21, Turner was a “full-blown, need-to-use-every-day addict with no morals left.”
Things took a turn. Johnson said, “Divine intervention occurred and this guy got arrested, giving my parents a chance to swoop in and ‘rescue’ me.” For 2 years, they tried everything from methadone clinics, therapy, “lockdowns” at their house, “tough love.” Turner said she would go a couple months clean and then relapse. “I could never make it past 2 months without ‘going back out’ breaking everyone's hearts for the millionth time.”
When she was 24, Johnson reconnected with a boy whom she had always had a crush on. To everyone, it seemed that things were finally starting to turn around. She would still use occasionally on the weekends, but thought she had it under control and that she was “getting away” with it. After about a year, she moved to Ann Arbor with her boyfriend. Within 2 months, she was using more than she’d ever used in her life. Turner said she was “spending every penny I made on dope. Conniving, stealing, doing whatever I could to feed my addiction.” She said her lifestyle was killing her and every relationship she had.
“Josh and I were fighting every day, my parents were so depressed they couldn't even come see me, sleep, or enjoy their lives.” She had just turned 25 in September, and a few days after her birthday, she overdosed for the third time. Her boyfriend Josh found her in the apartment. Luckily, she survived. Johnson said, “This being the final straw for everyone, we broke up, I moved home, and went through the most excruciating detox ever. I slowly began to piece my life back together. I went to meetings, began to make amends to my parents, reconnected with my old real friends, and began the long journey of building shattered trust.” Days turned into sober weeks and sober weeks turned into months. After getting many sober months under her belt, Johnson made the decision to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. She enrolled in school in September and is pursuing her passion.
“I pass tests with A's, have the trust and love of my parents, have self-gratification, respect from my friends and family. And for the first time maybe ever, I can say every aspect of my life is good. I actually have a future,” Johnson said. “And I got my boyfriend back!” she added. “It has been a long, hard road, to say the least, but today life is good!”
Johnson recently celebrated a year sober from all opiates.
“I don't want to jinx myself,” Johnson said. “Addiction is a wicked, terrifying thing. I'm not saying I'm ‘fixed’ or safe. I sometimes will have dreams about using or catch myself fantasizing about it.” She added, “But what's keeping me going strong is knowing that I don't have to use. And regardless, I've come a hell of a long way from where I was.”