Maureen Coyle – My Story of Addiction

 There are so many different facets that make up the story of my addiction and no singular point in time when everything came crumbling down. It is hard to find the right words to bring such a sensitive part of my life out into the open.  It happened over about a year-and-a-half and was an experience I never asked for.

       As long as I can remember, I have been interested in drugs and the lifestyles that came with it.  That mindset lead me to experiment with psychedelics in my teenage years , smoke pot almost every day in high school, take Adderrall more than necessary to get my assignments done and drink alcohol on the weekends.


       I thought I was living the dream.  I had everything under control and was really satisfied with life in general.  I had friends, good grades and I could still party as I pleased.  As long as I never crossed the imaginary line into all of the “harder drugs” (cocaine, heroin and meth), I was A-okay.

       Although I never tried meth or heroin, cocaine entered into my life at a time of a mental downfall.  I had recently dropped out of college- a move I never would have guessed for myself- I was lonely, isolated and driving myself crazy because of it.

       In the moment I first tried cocaine, there was really no second guessing my decision- there was an opportunity and I grabbed it because I was hoping for an escape from reality.  How could I have known what was to come from an “innocent” bump of some coke?

       I remember feeling on top of the world.  All of my problems were below me and I felt I could conquer any issue that came my way; but there were no issues, so all was well.  I had energy for the first time in what felt like forever and I no longer felt the need to isolate and hide away.  Words flew out of my mouth and landed with anyone that would listen.

       I had crossed my own boundary and, for me, it was the start of a beautiful, dark, abusive relationship with the drug that I came to need, cocaine.   My destructive love affair with cocaine brought me to some of the darkest moments and places I have ever been.  Cocaine became my number one priority; I put my life on the line numerous times just to get high.  I lost all sense of my moral compass, direction and sense of self. I became my own worst enemy and, with every passing day, my conscience became smaller.


       Addiction is strange like that.  It gets in your head and makes you believe lie after lie.  See, I knew stealing from my parents was horribly wrong, but my addict state of mind could convince me otherwise.  My hunger for cocaine always came first and everything that I thought I knew became silent. My conscience continued to shrink.

       Before I knew it, cocaine had taken everything from me.  My family had basically kicked me out, I had no friends, no self-esteem, I had nothing, I felt nothing.  I was a walking shadow, hoping to be swallowed up by something, someone.  I didn’t care.  Cocaine and alcohol kept me half alive for a couple months; they kept me numb and away from the broken life that was staring me in my face.

        I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.  There I was, 20 years old, a thief, a liar, a college drop out, a coke head, a nobody.  At that time I knew I was an addict, but I would never admit it to anyone- I couldn’t.  However miserable my life was, it didn’t matter because I was comfortably uncomfortable.  Change scared me.  Especially when it meant changing my whole lifestyle that I had come to accept.

       I remember my intervention like it was yesterday.  It was emotional, of course, but my walls, that were 20 years strong, shot up at the sign of my loved ones gathered in my living room.  I knew what was happening before anyone spoke and all I wanted to do was bolt, bolt to save the life that was hanging on by half a thread, bolt to avoid reality because that is what I did.


       I felt forced into listening to what my family and friends had to say.  I didn’t want to relive my mistakes or hear how much I had hurt and disappointed them.  I was emotionally disconnected from my actions while I was using; I remember hearing them describe this person I didn’t know, a person I didn’t want to know.  I was so out of control and so in denial that hearing how scared my parents were when they got a call at 1 AM from a North Minneapolis cop, saying I was wasted in a McDonald’s parking lot, lost and belligerent, or how my drinking and drugging affected my best friends in the whole world, didn’t register an emotion within me.  In this moment I wanted to scream, have a tantrum and cry my way out of the situation; but instead, I harbored my new resentments, listened to every word and stayed put on my couch, hugging my knees (and my emotions) to my chest.

       Thank God I didn’t run.  Thank God for my friends and family and thank God I am still here alive.  Rehab is never an ideal option and it took me awhile to come to my senses and agree to go.  If I hadn’t said yes on that day, I truly believe I would be dead, missing or in jail.  Meth and heroin were going to be next whether I knew that at the time or not.  It is the progression of this disease.


       The decision to go to rehab saved my life.  I know that is so corny and cliche, but it’s true.  I believe there was a part of me, buried deep down under all of the bull shit I caused, that was crying desperately for help.  I wanted to be saved.

       Going to treatment was more than just getting sober.  I had no issues with ceasing my use in a protected environment, but I fought the emotional process as long as I could.  I kept breaking treatment rules, dancing my way through assignments and lying about some areas of my life.  In those early moments of recovery I would have died before letting anyone in to see the real, vulnerable me.

       Somewhere along the way, however, my heart started to soften, my walls started to weaken and my head started to process all the pain within me.  Being sober forced me into my feelings and, in treatment, there is nowhere to run unless its towards your authentic self and that is where I ran to.

        See, you can’t just wave a magic wand or wish your way into recovery.  Recovery takes more than that.  Recovery is a total transformation that has to take place solely from within.  I had to strip myself naked before I was able to see how much hope there was for me.  With each wall that  I fought to break down, I started remembering who I was, who I am.  I was able to see all of my past traumas, self abuse, hatred, pain, all of that, and accept it for what it was and I learned to let go.  It wasn’t easy, but with all of the support I had, it was doable.


Maureen’s School Project – Addiction vs. Recovery

       I have been in recovery for almost six months now and am still learning every day.  I have to remember that it is okay to be vulnerable, that it doesn’t make me weak. Honestly, it’s like learning how to walk again in life.   I had to relearn how to handle life without using or abusing and it has been the challenge of a lifetime.  Whenever I feel myself slipping back into my old, shady ways, I remember how far I have come and how proud I am of myself.  I have never been this happy, this light-hearted and this content with who I am and where my life has come and gone.  I have a life again, filled with love and support and vibrant color.  I am nowhere near the same person that entered into the storm and, for that, I am eternally grateful.  For me, there is no looking back, only lessons learned and I will continue this path every day, one day at a time.


One thought on “Maureen Coyle – My Story of Addiction

  1. This really resonated with me. Although I certainly can’t fathom nor truly empathize with the pain of cocaine and alcohol addiction, I remember feeling like ‘I was nothing’ and that ‘I had nothing’ (especially after leaving college). My past identity (though a little phony!) of smart-school-girl was completely stripped away. I felt so vulnerable! But time (and HARD WORK!) does heal. Recovery from addiction and mental illness is hard. No one day is easy. But it gets better over time.

    Thanks, Maureen Coyle for being brutally vulnerable – it’s not easy. And, of course, thanks to C. Moran!

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