I was born in 1989 into a dysfunctional home in Glendale, Arizona. Alcohol and drug abuse had plagued our family for generations. My late father’s addictions earned him a revolving door in and out of prison. My mother got pregnant at 19 after running away from her own father’s abusive behavior. She raised me as a single parent, alongside live-in boyfriends. We moved frequently.
Having witnessed the horrors of drug and alcohol abuse firsthand, I entered junior high school vowing never to take drugs—at least until a fellow eighth-grader kept badgering me to try a marijuana joint at the school bus stop. I gave in, enjoying the thrill. But I told myself I would just smoke pot. Nothing else.
Desperate for love, I became sexually active at 13 and contracted a nasty STD two years later. I got hooked on alcohol from one drink at a high school party. Doing cocaine and methamphetamines followed. By age 15, I had quit high school and left home for a friend’s…