I interviewed Caylee for this blog article.

Caylee has been coming to the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine for several years now for long-acting naltrexone treatments. She has close to four years of sobriety under her belt, and although many things impress me about this young woman, I think I’m most taken by the intensity she continues to put into her commitment to stay off drugs.

As she says, “I can’t rest in complacency.”

She started using drugs (mostly pot and alcohol to start, then heroin) because immediately it took away the pain and gave her self-confidence. Naturally an introvert, on drugs “I could talk to anybody.” She was with a group of like-minded people who all had mostly positive experiences with their drug-using. Obviously, this group of people was not stopping her; they certainly didn’t see her drug use as a problem, even though she OD’d the first time she used a needle. She describes the relationships she had with her drug-using friends as “great – they helped me get what I wanted.”


When using heroin became more of a physical need than a pleasurable high, relationships with people who truly cared about her went down quickly. She stole from her mother, racked up credit card debt, and shoplifted. She stole her sister’s clothing and sold it at an upscale consignment shop. She took out a title loan on her car for $2000, went to a hotel room, and spent the rest on drugs. When that ran out she lived in her car or in dirty hotel rooms.

When I asked her when her thoughts about the drugs changed, she points to the day Capital One called her mom about fraudulent credit card use. Her parents confronted her and gave her an ultimatum, believing that Caylee needed the money for weed.

Caylee says at first she couldn’t even get the word “heroin” out of her mouth, it was such an untenable notion to her parents. A daughter who used heroin did not fit into their worldview. When she finally did tell them she was addicted to opioids –specifically injecting heroin – she said her parents were equal parts shocked and relieved.

The ultimatum her parents gave her was to stop using or go to jail. “And jail scared the shit out of me.” Her parents put cameras in the house, and although they tried to find a medical place for her to detox, there were no open beds for three weeks, so she detoxed cold turkey at home. “That was probably the best thing that could have happened for me.” (I love that she says for me and not to me :)).


Caylee had tried both Suboxone® and methadone in the past in her attempts to stop using, but it was too easy for her to trade or sell it, and she always slipped back to heroin. She came to the Coleman Institute for long-acting naltrexone treatment and started attending intensive therapy and recovery meetings. Naltrexone is a non-addictive opioid blocker that reduces cravings for opiates and can block the highs.

When Caylee was four months clean, her father was diagnosed with cancer. He died six weeks later.

I asked Caylee what her life is like now.

“Everything is good. I have a job and money. I do things without looking stupid, and I’m not getting sick. I have true self-confidence, especially in the way I stand up for myself at work. Probably the hugest thing is the trust my family has in me again--my Mom and sister. I’m making good relationship decisions. The last boyfriend I had, I met in rehab—he’s definitely not my type now. My relationships and friendships have changed drastically. I had a date last week—I’m not used to someone paying for me and opening the car door. He’s been clean for ten years. I’m definitely ‘pumping the breaks’ as I consider a new relationship.”

Caylee is still not where she wants to be career-wise, but she continues to put in the effort toward moving forward. She has changed her expectations from wanting things to happen overnight, to knowing it takes time, effort, and it’s a process. She will probably return to school at some point.

The last trip Caylee’s family had together before her addiction consumed her life was to Hawaii. This year, she and her mom and sister returned to Hawaii and there they scattered her father’s ashes.

The toughest things she’s dealing with now? Death anniversaries. She has lost so many friends to drugs. Of course, her father’s death, and a year ago an ex-boyfriend committed suicide.

She has learned to talk about the pain instead of bottling it up inside, and she stays committed to her sponsor and counseling.

Caylee is one of the thousands of people who have found the joy in living again after the despair of addiction. If you or a loved one would like help getting off an addictive substance such as Vicodin®, Percocet®, Dilaudid®, heroin, fentanyl, methadone or Suboxone®, please give us a call today. I would love to do a redemption interview on your story.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP