Former heroin addict: ‘I woke up wishing I hadn’t.’

Special Report: Tricia Marsden talks about her heroin addiction

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  Several years ago, Trista Marsden’s life was falling apart. She’d spent more than half her life trapped in the cycle of substance abuse. It began when she was 12 with alcohol and marijuana.

“I started using cocaine when I was about 14 until I was about 17,” said Trista. “I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do.”

A back injury at 21 sent her to the doctor. What started as an easy way to relieve pain escalated into a full-fledged opioid addiction.

“They give you a higher dose, they give you a better pain pill and it just – that’s when I got addicted to opiates. I didn’t know I was addicted until I tried to stop using them and then I experienced withdrawal for the first time and that’s when I went to the streets to get heroin because I couldn’t get it from the doctor,” Trista said. “At the worst of it I would get up in the morning and I would hate that I even woke up.”

She said she tried repeatedly to get help. She knew her life had spiraled out of control, but the drugs that had been a constant companion drew her back.

Getting sober wasn’t just difficult. It seemed impossible. “I would wake up every day and cry and was vomiting until I got some heroin.”

Withdrawal was torture, she said. “You get restless legs, you’re sweating, you’re freezing, you’re vomiting. You know that you can get something to feel better, so you do. For me it was a constant battle every day. I didn’t want to use, but I knew I needed to to get out of bed.”

Even the chance that she could overdose didn’t stop the drug use. “I don’t think I really cared to be honest with you. My life was such a mess that I don’t think that was even a thought for me.”

She did overdose once. She said her cousin performed CPR and saved her life. But even then, she couldn’t stop using. “I don’t even think that fazed me at that point. I think when you’re so deep wrapped up in it I don’t think you understand the reality of what just happened,” she explained. “To get up every day and not want to live and knowing that you have to use or you’re going to be sick, is the most mentally torturing thing that anybody can ever go through.”

Trista was homeless and says she’d pretty much lost everything. Her two kids had been taken away from her, she had no job, and nowhere to go. She ended up in the legal system and eventually landed at the place that saved her – the Hope House.

She started parenting classes, substance abuse counseling, and 12 step meetings.  She underwent regular drug screenings and got to visit her kids, growing more determined to turn her life around.

“I hid my problems and my addiction for a very long time. I was not able to admit it. This last time, I was completely honest with everybody ’cause I wanted help and I was willing to just lay it all out there so I could get the help I needed. I thought the legal system and everybody else was against me until I started being honest and then all these people just came together and helped me,” Trista said.

She’s now been clean for more than a year.

She says she no longer craves the high that the drugs provided. She has a home, a full-time job, and her kids. They don’t have a lot, she says, but they have each other – and she’s committed to being a good role model.

“Life today is so much better than it ever has been. I didn’t think I could learn to live without drugs and alcohol – and I have and I’m so happy,” she said, smiling.

She knows there are others out there who are suffering like she did. She shares her story so they don’t make the same mistakes she did.

“People minimize alcohol or marijuana or things like that – the younger kids – you know, it’s ok because it’s just alcohol or marijuana,” Trista insists. “Well, that’s what I started with, too, and it only escalated so just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth losing half your life or all your life. I’ve lost a lot of people to addiction and it’s not worth it.”