Note: we are republishing this story, which originally made the news in July 2017, in light of recent reports that show America’s opioid crisis and the amount of drug-related overdose has continued to worsen during the pandemic. More on this here: https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/issue-brief-increases-in-opioid-related-overdose.pdf
A mother who is recovering from heroin addiction shared photos of herself before she quit the drug, in order to warn others about the dangers of drug addiction.
Melissa Lee Matos of West Virginia shared images of herself at her lowest point, saying that she has been clean for one year and five months, Daily Mail reports.
"This is what I looked like, daily, for years," wrote Matos in a caption to the shocking images. "This is what my husband dealt with. This is what my little girls walked in on."
"This is what my family and friends saw, on the rare occasions I left the house," she continued. "I was SICK. I was DYING. I was so far gone I thought I could NEVER recover."
The images show Matos struggling to keep her eyes open, with sores and marks on her face.
"I was so lost I couldn't imagine a life without using," wrote the mom in her Facebook post, which has been shared more than 46,000 times. "I just wanted to die. I didn't realize I was hardly alive."
"If you are currently in active addiction, this is my plea to you. Look at these pictures. Images of a dead girl. A needle junkie with a habit so fierce she spent days and nights in a self induced coma on her bathroom floor," Matos wrote. "A girl who would spend every cent on dope and forget she had kids to feed and take care of. A girl who lost every single thing she ever had. A girl who was so sick she thought she would never ever find a way out, until she did."
"If you are reading this and are going through the same pain I did, I am begging you to reach out. I died more than once. I have now found life. I promise you, there is HOPE. There is recovery. There is freedom and serenity and you are worthy of it," she added. "Please, please reach out. You do not have to suffer any longer. You are not alone. Just reach out your hand, I'm right here."
Matos included her email for people to contact her and share their own stories of struggling with addiction.
Days after her original message, Matos responded to those who criticized her for sharing her story, saying that she was busy with helping others who had reached out to her with their own stories.
In a similar viral post in 2016, 26-year-old Dejah Hall posted about how she was four years sober from her addiction to heroin and methamphetamine, according to The Huffington Post.
Hall shared images of herself in "full blown addiction" along with a photo of herself after four years clean.
She revealed that the moment she knew she had to free herself from her addiction was during a moment with her late grandfather.
"My grandfather was sitting in his wheelchair, and he looked at me and said, "You're hurting me, Dejah,'" she said. Soon after she promised her grandfather she would quit the drugs, she ended up getting arrested and sent to jail, where she said she quit cold turkey.
"With the help of God I am completing my BA and hope to one day be a prison minister. I have a beautiful 18 month old and everyday I thank God that I am not where I once was," wrote Hall in a Facebook post, adding, "Sobriety is possible."