Heroin Addiction Stories and Recovery

Learn about Elizabeth's struggles with addiction, the life-changing treatment that led to her recovery, and other personal recovery stories.
Group riding in open convertible hands up
Table of Contents
"There was a solution for me—things could be different."

Elizabeth D.

Heroin addiction stories have many different beginnings. They can begin with an opioid prescription for simple pain management. Or they could start with a misbegotten attempt at entertainment in small-town, America. Someone may even self-medicate with opioids or heroin in order to suppress deep pains or feelings of anguish.

Addiction can affect anyone, even the unsuspecting and unlikely. Regardless of its beginning, though, there is always hope for recovery from heroin addiction. Here are several inspiring stories of recovery to prove it.

Elizabeth's Story

How Did Your Addiction Begin?

[It began] when I was 15, in high school. It started with drinking and study drugs (Ritalin, Adderall). On weekends, mostly. I had good grades and was involved at school; I was in marching band and took Advanced Placement classes.

I went away to college, and I was on my own for the first time. That's when I went completely overboard. I was taking Oxycontin. Later, when it was difficult for me to get Oxycontin, I switched to heroin.

What Was Your Life Like in Active Addiction?

I would wake up at two or three in the afternoon—missed all of my classes. And I'd immediately go to the bank and withdraw cash from the savings account my parents set up for me.

I didn't do anything else. I didn't eat. I didn't want to spend money on food when I could use it to buy drugs. I don't know where all of that time went. On Sundays, I would try to clean up and eat something and not use. But by the end of the day, I would feel so sick that I always ended up back at the hotel room buying drugs.

How Did Your Recovery Start?

My family did an intervention when I was home for winter break. It was the classic scene where they each read their notes to me about how my actions made them feel. Right out of the TV show, I was thinking. Even then, I didn't think I had a problem. I mean, I wasn't using needles. I wasn't out on the streets. Those were the kinds of thoughts going through my head.

My family had an assessment and treatment program all lined up for me at Hazelden and a plane ticket to Minnesota. I was extremely angry and didn't want to go but decided to play it out so my family could see I didn't have a problem. I was completely convinced the assessment would show I wasn't an addict and didn't need treatment.

What Changed in Treatment?

My counselor told me I was in denial about my situation and gave me the assignment to talk with a peer about it. So I asked one of the other girls in treatment what she thought. She told me to think about myself before I started using, to look at my 19-year-old self through my 14-year-old eyes.

And to ask myself what, back then, I thought my life would be like. And that's when it dawned on me. I'd pictured going to Duke University. Becoming an attorney. Being surrounded by lots of friends and family. Instead, I was alone. Miserable. So, so low.

You Then Recognized Heroin as the Issue?

Completely. I got a before-and-after picture of my life, and I could finally see that drugs and alcohol were ruining everything. Once I realized where my life was going, I was so extremely grateful to be in a place where I could get help. There was a solution for me. Things could be different. I was thirsty for this new knowledge. That's how I started to learn about my addiction and how to start living again.

More Heroin Recovery Stories


Josh's life changed dramatically the day of the crash. He had been a star football player, and then he was cheering on his team from the hospital. The wreck left him paralyzed below the waist, and would demand of him seven future back surgeries. The pain was too great: the physical toll from the accident, and the emotional damage from losing the future he'd planned. He felt he had to numb it all away with opioids. Until he got into recovery. Listen to Josh's inspiring story about authenticity, pain management and the great rewards of opioid recovery.


Tucker's story details his immediate connection to alcohol at a young age and his prolonged attempts to escape his addiction to heroin. He moved cities, attempted treatment several times, and even became homeless. But his friends and family never gave up hope. And neither did he. Listen to the podcast to learn how he created a graceful recovery.


Linda experienced trauma at an early age. It left her family insolvent, and her sense of security fractured. Against all odds and dysfunction, she later found a successful career as a nurse. When she was then prescribed opioids by a colleague to manage her recurring migraines, she found herself getting inexplicably sick when her pills ran out. She was addicted and withdrawing, and she didn't even know it. 

Recovery Is Always Possible

Of course, heroin and opioids have swept the nation, and the results are often tragic. But we shouldn't give up hope for recovery. Healing and happiness are always possible. Opioid treatment programs are designed to help those struggling with fentanyl and other opioid addiction. There is medication-assisted treatment to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal and craving. There is support everywhere, and with it hope. Together, we will overcome addiction.

Want to learn more? Select a Tag to explore a particular topic or browse articles.