"Hi. My name is Courtney and I used to be a tweaker junkie. My journey with drugs began at a young age and eventually led me into IV drug use, which deteriorated my entire soul, over many years. The fact that I am sharing about my shit show, instead of still actively being in that shit show is blowing my entire mind, and my gratitude is heavy. In my teens, I remember declaring things like, “I’ll never snort a drug,” - “But, I’d never do like, METH, or anything,” - “At least I’m not putting a needle in my arm.” As addicts, we declare we’re “not as bad,” as people further into the darkness than us. One day I was looking in the mirror, because I primarily shot drugs into my neck, and I couldn’t hit a vein, I was sick, I was dehydrated, chugging water, hoping to pump my vein enough to hit. I would hold my breath, so long, trying to reveal a vein. I vividly remember my reflection, facing what I’d allowed myself to be reduced to, how did I let this happen? But as soon as I was able to administer my drugs successfully, I didn’t see the reduced me in that mirror, and all of the guilt, self hatred and truth completely disappeared. That was the cycle for me. I was trying to outrun facing exactly what I’d become. I lost my older and only brother Shawn, during my active addiction. My brother over many years only asked one thing of me, and that was to stop using. Eventually, Shawn was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and again, said to me, “You cannot make Mom lose us both, I am going first, we can’t argue with cancer, you have to stop using drugs.” I was poisoning myself, dodging death and he was on his death bed, asking me to live. Shawn, at 33, passed away July 17, of 2017 and I stopped using January of 2018. Shawn never got to see me like I am today, and I live in tribute to him and through that tribute, my life was saved. He saved me from myself, and I am eternally grateful to the love of my brother. When I was in the 4th grade, my Grandma Shirley got me my first diary, and I continued to journal throughout my life. When cell phones began having the ability to video, I began privately video journaling - the good, the bad, and the darkest. I found myself in the literal basement of “rock bottom,” isolating from the World, accepting that I was dying slowly and wouldn’t make it out of that basement alive. I believed my book journals and my video journals would be all I’d leave behind of me, or of my life story. Sadly, I lost every single thing I owned from that house, all of my journals, all of my things, but I had my life, and after I stopped using drugs in January of 2018, I realized I still had those videos. I watched about .30 seconds of one, and didn’t revisit the footage until several years later. In December of 2021, I began sifting through the footage from my being in active addiction and I felt deeply compelled and obligated to share my story, in hopes that others would feel seen or heard, knowing myself, how important that being heard is. Sharing my footage led me to learning of this wonderful “Under the Magnolia Tree,” initiative and I appreciate you allowing me to raise awareness with my journey. We really and truly do recover."