The painful memory of a near-fatal overdose is something that Ruth Hayes, 25, wishes she could forget.
“We were at a friend’s house, and my boyfriend’s friend told him to leave me there because I had been gone for more than 10 minutes. He said, ‘She’s not coming back.’ But he said, ‘I’m not leaving her.’ I remember waking up in a bathtub full of ice-cold water,” said Hayes.
Developing a heroin addiction was never part of Ruth’s life plan. Her struggle began with pain pills at the age of 17 following hip surgery.
“I always told myself I would never do heroin and would never use the needle. But I did, and it ruined my life. I would say I started doing heroin in February 2015, and I was in jail by June,” said Hayes.
But the road to recovery was far from over. In fact, it hadn’t even started.
“I spent about five months in the Regional. I got out and started using again, so I got sent to rehab. I was to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to get high,” said Hayes.
But then one year ago – 403 days to be exact – Hayes found her way to the Anthony Center in White Sulphur Springs and never looked back.
“After all the years of using and running around, and having to worry about where I’m going to get my next fix, I never thought in a million years I’d be able to get clean,” said Hayes.
Through the program, Hayes was able to get vocational training, obtaining her GED and a certification in graphic communications.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been able to be happy and see things clearly – live the right way,” said Hayes.
Now, she’s back home with a full-time job and her loving family.
“I lost my best friend to a heroin overdose in February. She left behind a four-year-old little boy. That’s what really broke my heart. I couldn’t do that to my kids,” said Hayes.
Although she knows the temptations will always exist, Hayes is focused on the positive and keeping busy.
“There is actually one apartment building that is full of people doing drugs. I just stay on the porch, and I’m okay with it,” said Hayes. “I go to church every Sunday. I go to Celebrate Recovery. I chase the kids around, let them ride their bikes in the road and run up and down the street. That’s something I’d have never done before. Being clean is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so happy. I really am.”
This spring, Hayes plans to attend college with a possible focus in restaurant management and hospitality.