Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles
Andrea Chiocca talks about recovery from her addiction.
Okay. My name is Andrea Chiocca. I am 40 years old in two weeks, give or takes, so 39 and I’ve been sober for seven years. I got sober in 2013 this last time. And I had previously graduated the Solutions program and a few months later relapsed. And so I ended up going back there for my foundation. The address was 4210 North Longview. It was the main Solutions, which is no longer there. Very heartbreaking. Think about it often. Met lifelong friends there that have just been pivotal in my life. Oh God, if I had to rate how bad addiction was, I was just thinking about that this morning. So it’s like two different lives then and now. It was definitely a 10, a 10 plus if that’s possible for me. I had lost my daughter to CPS because I couldn’t stop getting loaded.
I was sitting in Motel 6 bathrooms in hot tubs trying to find mains. I was probably the poster child for meth, no teeth, homeless at those points. Hadn’t worked my whole life, did some unsavory things to make sure I could get loaded more than a time or two. I was violent towards the people I loved, violent towards people I didn’t know. It was madness. I don’t know how to write that any worse than just chaos, madness, destruction, pain, a lot of pain. Did I ever think I was going to die? I don’t think that there was a doubt in my mind that I was going to die, it was just a matter of when. Especially after losing my daughter, there wasn’t much to live for in my mind prior to having her and then I had this momentary gift of just God and beauty and due to my addiction, gave that up.
And after losing her, I had no doubt that I was going to die. I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror anymore. I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about the situations I put myself in. I stopped caring about the people I associated with. I stopped caring about my safety. I stopped paying much attention. So I was very sure that there would be the day. At that point in my life I’d also started doing heroin and Xanax quite a bit. So it was like the up and down rollercoaster of meth, heroin, Xanax, meth, heroin, Xanax, and anything else I could get in between at that point. And so I was positive I was going to die, die or go to prison. One of the two. I did not think that sobriety was possible for me, and the reason I didn’t think it was possible for me is CPS put me into countless treatment centers. I think I went to four. I only stayed 30 days at one.
It didn’t matter what kind of program it was. I think the one that 30 days at it was a 12 Step program. And I do remember just those glimpses of like, “Oh, this is what laughter’s like again.” But as soon as it didn’t go my way, I just always went and got loaded, always. I would jump the wall. I would sell drugs to people that were there. All I knew how to do is get loaded.
Well, this is a turning point. That’s not hard for me to answer, surprisingly. I remember it very clearly. My husband and I were having a very heated discussion, we’ll say. I had recently gotten honest with him that I was getting loaded in walk-in closet, working in treatment, lying to everybody, sponsoring people, going to meetings, doing the most to hide the truth. And I’ll try to express it without swearing. So we were fighting and we were screaming about honesty and I was screaming about all my fears, right, like losing my job. I was living in a three-quarter house, smoking dope in a walk-in closet and about losing my job. And I’m going to lose my job, I’m going to lose my place to live. I was confident at this point that I was going to lose him. And outside of my daughter, I can hands down say that my biggest fear was losing Trevor at that point in my life.
I just had this love for him that was unmatched outside with my daughter, obviously. And I just knew that I just didn’t want to lose somebody that meant that much to me again, but I was so terrified. I was terrified to be honest. And he screamed at me, “You have no fucking faith. And until you get honest, you’re not going to stay sober.” And so backstory to that, previously, when I obtained my certificate from 5A I walked the line one foot in and one foot out the whole time. I was not praying. I was not meditating. I was not doing four step. I wasn’t doing anything that the 12 Step program required of me, but I was skimming the line, right? I was doing just the bare minimum to where it looks good on paper. And that’s what I got, right?
I walked out of there in my mind with that paper and I still have it and I’m very proud of it, and I’m very proud of it because it is my foundation. And so I knew when he told me that day, because I was that girl that walked around and said, “Yeah, God is good,” but there was no God. There was no God for me, there was no higher power. There was no contact. I couldn’t even replace it with other things. You know how people are like, “Oh, just pick something.” And I had so much resentment, so much anger, that picking something that was bigger was just so difficult for me. And so I would talk about God a lot, right, but I had no connection and I had no faith and I was incapable of being fully honest.
And when he said that to me, that’s what happened. In my core, I knew that that’s what was missing. And so I started knocking on doors in the three-quarter house. And I started telling everybody in there that I had been loaded and I had been lying to them. And I went and I called my mom. It’s rough. I went in and called my mom, who’s so proud of me because she had thought I had been sober for a year. Actually at this point she had thought I’d been sober for, I don’t know, five with prison time, which was also a lie. And I got on my knees, still high, and I’m praying to God that I didn’t understand. And I said, “Look, God, I don’t know if you’re there, but if you help me, if you help me do this, I’ll do whatever these people tell me to do.” And that’s what happened.
I think I finally was willing to acknowledge I’m not going to run this road on my own. It’s not going to magically go away. You need to be honest and you need to get some kind of higher power in your life. And so that was the game changer for me, loaded, still high. And I’ve held fast to that, honesty and faith, since that day. And I’ve, literally, had the worst withdrawal of my life a week later. And the crazy thing is, is I didn’t want to think about getting high. And so somebody screaming at me out of love and fear and chaos that I had no faith and no honesty is what changed for me. That’s what gave me the willingness to do the work.
What’s life like now? It’s crazy. It’s so crazy. It feels surreal, still. I constantly have to remind myself of how bad it was because today is just so drastically different. Man, it’s good. Life is just good. And I forget that sometimes, right, the longer you’ve maintained sobriety, the easier it is to forget just how dark and dirty and scary and chaotic it was. I get to show up for my nieces today. They were my little best friends when I was younger before I started getting loaded and I missed a lot of their life. And I get to be their aunt today. I have a really amazing relationship with one of them. So that’s really cool. I have an amazing relationship with a man that I don’t have to worry about putting his hands on me or cheating on me or being unfaithful or unloyal or dishonest, or just any of the chaos that comes with drug addiction. I have six parents, I’m blessed to have, that I get to show up for today.
I have a full-time job. That’s miraculous in itself. I have a car that’s not stolen. It’s pretty sweet. I have license. I have tags. I have insurance. Honestly, it’s the hardest question anybody ever asks me, “What’s life like today?” And I think that it’s so hard because it just still seems so unreal. I have amazing, beautiful friends in my life. I have long lasting relationships with people. They’re not minute passerbyers or, “What can I get from you? What can you get from me?” They’re rooted in trust and communication and being there for each other, showing up for the good times and the bad and that’s pretty cool. Just life is amazing today, just amazing. I don’t know how else to put it. Grateful, forget to be grateful, but it’s just, it’s so worth it.