Addiction and recovery-often times the two terms are inseparable.
Friends, family and well wishers aim to push those in thralls of addiction to willingly or unwillingly seek treatment and ultimately break their self-destructive habit.
And for man Ohioians who are wrapped-up in the state’s heroin epidemic, the road to recovery is not always clearly paved.
Fortunately Tiffany Robinson, a former Highland High Schooler and Marengo native, was able to climb out of the trenches of addiction.
“I’ve been battling heroin for six years,” she said. “I did it every single day. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t use.”
Robinson, like many addicted to heroin, was introduced to the numbing effects of opioids through doctor prescribed medication.
The Morrow County native said she first started abusing prescription drugs while in high school.
“I started taking Adderall and Ritalin at 16,” Robinson said. “But things didn’t get really bad till I was 21.”
Robinson, around that time, was prescribed pharmaceutical opioids to help deal with post-surgery pain. She soon began abusing Percocet.
“I was superwoman on them (Percocet),” Robinson said. “I milked the system and told doctors I was still in pain and not recovering right.”
She was seeing a number of physicians who would write her fresh prescriptions, feeding her painkiller habit.
After her doctors began cutting her off pain meds, Robinson began convincing medical professionals she was in need of unnecessary surgeries in order to get her hands on more pills.
“I had my gallbladder removed, my appendix removed,” she said. “Anything I could do to get more Percocet. I had a dentist that would write a prescription for each tooth he took out.”
As a result, the Morrow County native had all of her back teeth removed.
Following her long bout with Percocet, Robinson developed a heavy tolerance to the drug, and began buying a stronger prescription opioid in OxyContin on the street from recreation drug dealers.
“I did OxyContin everyday for a few years,” she said. “Then my dealer passed away. Everyone (Robinson included) that was sick and dependent on him was screwed.”
Jumping at the now unaccounted for client base, the OxyContin dealer’s cousin introduced Robinson to heroin.
“He was the first person to bring heroin into Morrow County,” the recovering addict said. “I got hooked immediately.”
Robinson spent the next six years in-and-out of treatment options doing whatever necessary to keep feeding her daily addiction. At times even putting her habit above her family and three children. It took her to hit rock bottom before getting clean was a viable option.
“There comes a time when you know you are done with it,” she said. “But you really don’t know how to get out. I was on death’s door. I was skin and bones, just waiting to die.”
Robinson hit her low-point while living in an abandoned trailer.
The Morrow County native’s mother found her there and decided to take a different approach to helping her daughter. She drove her to a local funeral home to have her make her own post-mortem preparations.
“All it took was me writing my own obituary. I decided I wanted to get help,” Robinson said.
Following the confrontation with her mother, Tiffany began a three month treatment program at St. Lucy’s Women’s Outpatient Treatment Center and Supportive Housing facility in Portsmouth, OH. She stated they, in addition to tackling the mental and physical aspects of addiction, help patients get control of mental issues such as depression and bi-polar disorder.
Since addicts battle with substance abuse on a daily basis, many grow a level of familiarity and comfort with their addiction, the staff at St. Lucy’s helps their patients cope with an empty spot in their lives stated Robinson.
“They (St. Lucy’s) did it the way all treatment centers should,” she said. “They treat chemical imbalances first. It makes people in recovery feel like the are not missing something.”
Following treatment and recovery, Tiffany began spreading a message of hope to those struggling with similar issues. She published a number of viral diary entries on Facebook encouraging others to quit. One of her posts has received over 600,000 views.
She has made it her mission since quitting to speak about her personal struggles in hopes her story will inspire others to kick. Robinson says she has helped over 300 addicts break their abusive behavior.
“I get messages from addicts all over the world, every day,” she said. “They don’t know what to do. I just want to help everyone I can.”
Despite international outreach, Robinson is most concerned with helping the problem here in Ohio and in Morrow County, where she believes the heroin epidemic is worsening.
“The problem is growing,” she said. “More people are starting to bring it to smaller towns and taking advantage of kids with money.”
Robinson believes that more of an effort needs to be made to reach young people about the dangers of heroin addiction.
“I want to start traveling around and talking at schools,” she said. “14-16 year olds need to hear about it so they don’t end up using drugs at an early age.”
As for now, Tiffany would like to continue the path she is on. But she has her sights set on bigger national media appearances to let others know there is life after heroin.
Tiffany Robinson has inspired many via her Facebook viral diaries.
Reach Jones at 419-946-3010 ext. 1803 or on Twitter @zJones_1239