Sharon Campbell grew up as the youngest of ten children. Now a CSC-AD (Certified Supervised Counselor-Alcohol, Drug), she serves her community working at Gaudenzia’s Crownsville campus, based in Maryland. While Sharon has been counseling since 2010, she joined Gaudenzia just under two years ago.
As a passionate advocate for substance use disorder (SUD) education, one of Sharon’s biggest goals is to help make SUD education mandatory in all schools. That’s because her journey with drugs and alcohol started long before she understood where it would take her.
This is Sharon’s story.
The Right Place at the Right Time
I was always described as an effervescent child, quite talkative and active. I enjoyed dancing and singing, and I performed in plays throughout my school years. I really thought I would grace the stages of Broadway one day. When I graduated high school, I wanted to go to NYU for theatre, but my mother suggested that I find a promising job. She said to me: “With theater, you have to be at the right place, at the right time.”
I started smoking marijuana at age 12. People used it in my neighborhood, but it was also in my home. My father freely smoked marijuana, and he drank alcohol as well. As my eight brothers became teenagers, they smoked marijuana too.
I smoked marijuana all through high school. I always told myself I wasn’t going to use any other drugs, but as time went on, my friends changed. Shortly after, my drugs changed. I started smoking crack cocaine. I was in my mid-twenties by then. Whenever I smoked, my heart would race. One day, a friend of mine said to me: “Here Sharon, try a little bit of this.” It was heroin. My heart didn’t race anymore, as long as I had some heroin. As the years went by, my life began to unravel. I spiraled out of control from using those two drugs.
Everyone Except Myself
Drugs and alcohol changed me as a person. All my dreams and aspirations took a back seat. My mother wanted the best for me and my future, but I know now that I should have done what my heart told me to do. Instead, I ended up working in the optical and restaurant business for most of my life and using drugs and alcohol all throughout those years. This was between 1985 and 2004.
My family knew I needed help before I did. I was in denial for years before I told myself I had a drug problem. I started getting petty criminal charges, such as theft, and for attempting to distribute marijuana. I was placed on probation. It was during those times that I knew my substance use was out of control.
I went to treatment five times. I did it for everyone except myself. Granted, I did learn things about sober living, and I was quite attracted to it. After six failed attempts at recovery in outpatient programs, one of my brothers suggested that I do an inpatient residential program. It was the beginning of a very long, yet fruitful journey to my recovery. I loved residential treatment because it allowed me to see that I wasn’t in this thing by myself. Inpatient treatment helped me to start rebuilding healthy relationships.
At first, my biggest challenge was having money. That, and breaking my addictive behavior one day at a time. My mother was instrumental, because she allowed me to move out of Baltimore and live with her and my stepdad in Laurel, MD. This was in 2005. Once I started working, my mother and I opened a bank account together. I could only make deposits — no withdrawals, unless she approved it first. It took three years before I could manage my own money, but I got there. Now I have my own apartment. I bought and paid off my 2019 Honda Fit and I have a great job that I love.
The Storms of Life
Today, I just strive to live a peaceful life, and my life truly is a dream come true. I mean, I didn’t become a Broadway actress, but being able to turn things completely around and now help others who have the same disorder as I do, and more importantly, to demonstrate to them that they already have the power within them to bring about positive change one day at a time — that’s a dream come true.
What we must do in recovery is find a hobby, or maybe do something that a person has always wanted to do but didn’t have time because they were busy getting high. Now that we are sober, we must fill that void with something positive. I enjoy making Christian and recovery t-shirts. I’ve being doing it for seven years now. I also make all-natural body butter. Those are my main hobbies. Other than that, I live with my Yorkshire Terrier named D.O.G. He was my mother’s dog. We lost her in 2017, so he is very special to me.
My advice to anyone struggling with substance use is to get into treatment and address some issues, hurts, and pains that have probably followed you around for most, if not all, of your life. Let your recovery friends know what you are going through in terms of triggers, stress, and so on. Get into support groups. Build yourself a network with people who aren’t using and get a sponsor, especially in early recovery. You must be determined to go through the storms of life and stop going around them.
If you or someone you love needs help with substance use, please call our 24-hour Treatment & Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) or email [email protected] today.