Patient Stories

Hope after Heroin: Stories of Recovery

Meet four inspirational people who share their personal stories of addiction - what it’s like to hit rock bottom, and how they were able to get their lives back on track. They have chosen to share their incredible stories of survival to provide hope to those battling this disease.

Signs of Heroin Use


Burnt spoons, Tiny baggies, Tan or whitish powdery residue, Dark, sticky residue, Small glass pipes, Syringes, Rubber tubing


Tiny pupils, Sleepy eyes, Tendency to nod off, Slow breathing, Flushed skin, Runny nose


Vomiting, Scratching, Slurred speech, Yawning, Complaints of constipation, Complaints of nausea, Neglect of grooming, Failure to eat, Lying, Lack of eye contact, Covering arms with long sleeves



Ben is back working toward his college degree. But just a few years ago, he had a very different story. Growing up, Ben struggled with anxiety and depression. Over the years, he learned to mask his true feelings to his family and friends while excelling in school and sports. Ben began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Within the year, it snowballed. When Ben started taking heroin, his life began to spiral out of control. Eventually, his family and friends held an intervention and he started treatment at Rushford. Today, Ben attends New York University and frequently speaks about addiction and recovery. He hopes one day to help others fighting this disease.


Marilyn was in her mid-30s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The mother of three was prescribed Vicodin to help her deal with the intense pain. It helped the pain, at first. But it would cause far more. In just a few months, Marilyn —a woman who rarely drank and didn’t experiment with drugs — was addicted to prescription painkillers. Just one year in, she switched to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to find. She lost her home, her career and almost lost her children. It would take years, but Marilyn found hope after heroin with medication assisted treatment and therapy. Now she is an open advocate for medication assisted treatment and helps others in their journey toward recovery.



Michael’s life is back on track — and he is hopeful for his future. But his story of recovery is years in the making. Michael nearly lost everything — a great, high-paying job, his home and several relationships. One day, he looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize himself. He had hit rock bottom, even taken a knife to himself. That was when he checked himself into Rushford, a decision that he believes saved his life. He shares his story whenever he can to help others who may be in difficult circumstances. He will tell you that it takes hard work, focus and life-long dedication but recovery is possible.


Shelbia is working every day toward recovery to make a better life for herself and her newborn son, Mason. After falling in with the wrong crowd, Shelbia recognizes she made poor choices. But once she found out she was pregnant, she knew that her life would have to change. Not long ago, her baby might have been taken from her. But now that the world is learning more about addiction, we are learning that mom and baby recover better, together. Shelbia has goals for herself and her son and knows that without drugs, she can do anything. Note: According to Centers for Disease Control, babies exposed to addictive opiate drugs while in the mother’s womb are born dependent but not addicted to the drugs.