Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – One Woman’s Experience with Addiction

Name: Jessica Murray

One Woman’s Experience with Addiction

Jessica Murray

Seasons in Malibu

2020 Addiction
Awareness Scholarship Essay

Woman’s Experience with Addiction

I am a returning college student and began my college career in 2006
when I graduated high school. Popularity among my peers, athletic
accomplishments, and academic accolades had always come naturally to
me. From all external accounts I appeared to be confident and
successful even though I was suffering from what I later realized was
the disease of addiction. It took me several attempts to gain the
awareness, courage, and humility to finally address this aspect of my

I am a firm believer that no one would choose to be an addict if that
kind of forethought or power of choice existed. I never understood
that while I had the choice whether or not to use drugs, I lacked the
ability to control the effect it had on my mind, body, and soul. What
felt as though it was the solution to my emotional deficiencies,
quickly became my biggest problem and sharply affected my ability to
be a responsible person. I could not foresee the emotional,
financial, legal, and spiritual consequences I would face as a result
of my addiction, nor could I imagine the harm I would cause others in
the process. It has been undoubtedly the most difficult thing I have
ever experienced or attempted to overcome. After using for more than
a decade, I made a decision to seek help and completed a treatment
program in December 2015. I have been clean from all mind and
mood-altering substances since then. I have continued to participate
in a Twelve Step Program, and it has afforded me the ability to
become a responsible and productive member of society. I volunteer my
time at correctional facilities, treatment centers, and on service
committees to give back what has been so helpful to me in my
recovery. I have been able to maintain my current job since June
2016, and I continuously try to find new ways to live life to the

After completing treatment and a few years of attending 12-step
meetings, talking with other recovering addicts, I came to a few
conclusions about why addiction is so prevalent in our society. Most
people do not use drugs because it was what they aspire to do, they
use because it appears to be the solution to another problem. Those
problems can range from trauma, stress, lack of self-worth, societal
pressure, unaddressed mental health, and physical dependence after
receiving a prescription.

The value that our society puts on instant gratification, especially
through social media and advertising strongly shapes our collective
mentality. “Buy this. Use that. Take a trip here. Look like them.
It will make you happy” Instant gratification and escape is the
name of the game when it comes to using drugs. I often felt such
intense emotional turmoil that I used just to put a stop to the pain.
Using gave me instant relief and over time became more familiar than
attempting to address my emotions or circumstances any other way.
Another contributor to widespread struggle with addiction the surge
in prescriptions for controlled substances provided by medical
professionals. I have had one injury and one surgery since getting
clean and even though I disclosed the fact that I was a recovering
addict, the first thing they offered me was a narcotic medication for
pain. I declined and asked for an alternative. It’s no secret that
holistic healing or natural remedies are not our society’s go to.
The last thing that I came to believe is that so many people struggle
with mental health and choose not to address it due to
stigmatization. My doctor told me at a young age that I had severe
mood disorder and it was likely my early drug usage was an attempt to
self-medicate those imbalances. I never took the medication properly,
and I felt like she was saying that I was crazy. I have talked to
several recovering addicts who say that after getting clean,
addressing other aspects of their mental health has been most
beneficial. This holds true for myself as well.

These experiences have taught me much about life on life’s terms. I
have a better grasp on what is in the realm of my control and what is
not. I have learned to change what I can and have faith that the rest
will work out appropriately. The most important thing I have learned
is my own strength and capacity to overcome obstacles. I have created
a lot of my own chaos not realizing or believing that I deserved
better for myself. Self-discovery is never a waste of time, however,
I do not wish to spend any more time causing myself unnecessary pain
or depriving myself of the very best that I have to offer. In the
past, I have underestimated the power of perspective. Today, I
understand that my perspective can make all the difference in the
world. I could look at my past as a source of shame, guilt, and
remorse. On the contrary, I choose to view it as one of my greatest
assets. It has given me a deeper appreciation for the life I have
now, as well as an ability to empathize and help people with similar

It has been said amongst recovering addicts, “Lost dreams awaken
and new possibilities arise.” Getting clean and choosing recovery
was the best decision I have ever made and has given me a life worth
living. So many opportunities have been presented to me, and my
greatest gratitude is just in having the willingness and ability to
reach my full potential. I am currently working on a Bachelor’s in
Business and plan to pursue a Master’s in Healthcare
Administration. Continuing my education is just part of the dream I
lost sight of for so long, while becoming a professional amongst the
people who helped me turn my life around is a possibility I couldn’t
even conceive of just a few years ago.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my personal experience
with you.