In 2014, over 7 million Americans battled a drug addiction according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Today, fatal overdoses top the list of accidental deaths in the country, surpassing shooting and traffic accidents.
We are all aware of the effects drugs can have on our bodies and lives, but it is not everyday that we get to see a side by side of how much damage they can really elicit.
Moderation is the key to everything except for illicit drugs. You're much better off not using any at all, just ask any of these 8 recovering addicts who ditched the drugs and transformed their lives.
Dejah Hall, a 26-year-old mother and student from Glendale, Arizona, celebrated being drug-free for four years by sharing photos that highlight her extreme transformation on Facebook.
"Today marks 4 years clean from heroin and meth," she wrote in the caption. The left photo is the day she was arrested on felony warrants and spent 2 years in prison. That was the beginning of her journey to sobriety. She has since decided to complete a BA so she could become a prison minister and help others.
Alyssa's addiction problems started when she was just 10 years old after she found her parents' alcohol stash. By the time she was 14, she was using molly, ecstasy, meth and heroin.
"My own family didn't even know who I was anymore. I didn't even know who I was anymore," Alyssa explained. She relapsed after her first stint in rehab, but second time's the charm for Alyssa. At 20, she has now been clean for over a year and currently works as a daycare teacher.
Reddit user Wormguy666 was inspired by a fellow user to share his former meth-addict sister's before-and-after photos. She gave her brother permission to show the world her transformation so people can see the "the effects of what meth can do to you and hope to inspire some people who are in addiction or in the process of recovery."
"I didn't even realize how disgusting I looked while I was using until after I got clean and realized how awful I looked. Im 5'4 tall and was 110 lbs in the first picture and now I'm at a healthy weight of 130 and proud of it," she added.
Graham MacIndoe was addicted to cocaine for a while, but it wasn't until he moved to New York City that he started to abuse heroin. His addiction pushed him away from the people he loved, so he spent most of his days in extreme loneliness. The Scottish photographer beat the odds in 2010 after spending four months in an immigration detention and a few more months in a rehab program.
MacIndoe documented his self-destructive behaviour on camera and several years after quitting drugs, he turned his graphic candid photos into an art display at the National Galleries of Scotland to show what addiction really looks like.
Brooke let the world know about how she turned her life around through posts on her Instagram page. She was once addicted to both heroin and meth and it took 12 tries before she succeeded. The young woman said she was 8 months sober at the time the picture was posted and it's the longest she's ever went without drugs.
Imgur user jermwithaj has been a heroin and meth user for about 9 years, but a light bulb went off over a year ago and he decided to sober up.
"Today, my life is different. And that's all I could really hope for towards the end. Not a better life, because I didn't feel like anything was ever going to get better... but just something different," wrote the recovering addict.
"This is what 6 months of hard work and commitment looks like for me. I can finally know what happiness and serenity feel like. I get to help others as well as tell my story and share my solution. In doing that, I'm able turn all of the negative from before into positive now. If you are struggling, please ask someone for help and dig deep down with everything you have to find the willingness to change. It's worth it, I promise you."
24-year-old Courtney proved that recovery is possible even with a very serious heroin addiction. The mom opened up about her tough journey to sobriety in a Reddit post last September.
"I have finally gotten to a point where it all seems like it was a bad dream. It's taken a lot of hard work and a lot of discipline," she wrote on the occasion of being 826 days sober.
"The picture on the right is a whole different person completely. That's a person who loves herself. I've grown out my hair, stopped picking myself until I draw blood, and while I'm not as thin as I'd like, I'm healthy! Also that is a girl celebrating her anniversary with her significant other who saw her when she was at her worst and trying to better herself."
Andi Peterson fell into the cycle of drug abuse at the age of 16. By 18, she became addicted to opiates after a doctor prescribed Percocet following her emergency C-section. The drug made her "feel good," but it also landed her behind bars and cost her the custody of her son. It took another four years or so for Andi to finally quit and she's been sober ever since.
What do you think of these transformations? Share your thoughts in the comments!