Kendra – Back Pain Pills Heroin Homeless Recovery: A Thirty-Four-Year-Old Woman Shares Her Ten-Year Journey Of Back Pain Pills, Heroin, Homelessness And Recovery

SOA 22 | Back Pain Pills


Meet Kendra, a thirty-four-year-old woman who shares her ten-year journey of back pain pills, heroin, homelessness and recovery. Kendra’s emotions are etched on her face. She is not the best narrator but her story is real, beginning with a car accident in her teenage years that caused her to suffer chronic back pain. The medications eventually progressed, and soon she was using and abusing pain pills and heroin by the time she was 24. Kendra soon found herself homeless and has attempted recovery multiple times, only to relapse. Discover how she turned her life around and the motivations she has in her life. Follow her as she courageously bares it all.

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Kendra – Back Pain Pills Heroin Homeless Recovery: A Thirty-Four-Year-Old Woman Shares Her Ten-Year Journey Of Back Pain Pills, Heroin, Homelessness And Recovery

In this episode of Stories of Addiction, I will be talking with Kendra about her addiction and her recovery from addiction. Kendra, hello. Thank you for being with Stories of Addiction.

Frankie, you’re very welcome.

I’m very happy to have you here. I would like you to let me know how did you start your addiction.

Around my mid-twenties or so, I discovered pain pills and they gave me relief from the chronic back pain I had been experiencing since a car accident as a teenager. That was the beginning of the road.

When you got your addiction started, why did you think you wanted to use drugs? What made you get started? Go ahead and tell me the story of how you went on from there.

Kendra - back pain pills heroin homeless recovery Click To Tweet

In the very beginning, as I said, it was an instant way to get relief from that back pain I had for so many years. Fairly quickly, as drugs do, I began to build up a tolerance and all of that. I went on to need stronger pain pills that eventually led to switching from pain pills to heroin. I was eventually using heroin. That started around 24, 25. That was when my addiction took over my life.

Tell me, Kendra, what happened to you during your addiction and why you were using drugs and heroin? What happened in your life, the progress in the process of going through that?

Throughout my addiction, I made quite a few attempts at getting clean and sober. I’ve been to a couple different recovery programs over the course of the last eight years or so. I have had a lot of clean time but quite a few relapses as well. I was very blessed with the birth of my son. I had a son about seven years ago and ever since then, I’ve had that strong desire to be able to get clean and be healthy for him and be there for him.

Tell me about some of the experiences you had during your drug using.

I’ve used drugs when I had money to spend on drugs. I’ve used drugs when I was flat broke and did not have money to spend on drugs. Not having the money to support a drug habit is a very quick way to wind up doing things that you never thought you would do, doing things that you know are just not you. You know they’re not you but you know there’s just something inside you that overpowers that voice and tells you that you need to do whatever you need to do to be able to continue to feed that addiction. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of, stealing food, stealing clothes when I need it. I also have spent a short amount of time homeless, without a home as a result of my addiction, my disease. When you’re down to the bare nothing, your number one priority when I’m active in my disease is to continue to feed that addiction, but then there are also the essentials of life like food, clothes, staying warm and all that. Those are the times when I have been homeless or down and out and have shut people out of my life that are good, positive people to have in my life and traded that out for the people that I’ve needed to associate with throughout my addiction. Those times definitely were the times where I found myself going to those low places and doing those things that none of us are proud of.

SOA 22 | Back Pain Pills

Back Pain Pills: Becoming an addict makes you shut the positive people out of your life and trade them for those you need to associate with your addiction.


When I was homeless, I’ve couch surfed. I’ve stayed with friends and I’ve also physically been out on the streets with literally nowhere to go at night. It is a dark place to be in. You wind up resorting to these survival instincts and survival methods. These things that are going to get you what you need to survive. For example, if I was hungry, there were times where I would have to steal my food from a grocery store because I didn’t have money to buy it. If I was cold and didn’t have money to do laundry, I might have to go and steal warmer clothes. It can be easy to justify that behavior when you’re in it because you do feel like you need it and you feel like you deserve those things like everyone else deserves them. It can be very hard to separate in your head the right from the wrong or whether it’s acceptable for you to be doing. It’s just a sad era right now anyway of what I see with what drugs have done in this community and how many people have been left homeless and penniless because of drugs. It’s very sad.

How did you administer your drugs?

I started with the pills and that was oral administration. After I had gone from pills to using heroin, I started out smoking heroin. That’s how I was introduced to it and how to do it. I told myself, as I know many people have told themselves, I would never ever cross that line of going to IV drug use. The day did come where I did cross that line and then I became an IV drug user. I did wind up shooting heroin.

When you’re out there shooting heroin, what did you do? Where did you live when you were on the streets and where did you get your money?

As far as where I actually lived, choices were slim. There were nights I tried to crawl up on a bench. My memory of this period where I was homeless and out there with no roof over my head was that I remember getting very little sleep, to be honest, a couple hours or an hour here and there. It was just staying up until my body could no longer stay up. Then I would get as much sleep as I needed to keep going.

When you’re deep in addiction, there is a voice that overpowers and tells you to do whatever you need to do to feed it. Click To Tweet

What caused you to turn away from drugs and return to recovery?

This time around, I feel that I hit an emotional bottom more than anything else. I have unfortunately put myself in the hospital a couple times in the past because of this disease and just how gnarly it can be and how much it can take from your body. Since my last relapse and then getting clean, I didn’t drive myself into the ground physically. I just hit a point where I no longer wanted to live life the way I was needing to live life when I was using. They speak in the program about the incomprehensible demoralization and I’ve heard it plenty of times before, but this has been a point where I’m looking back and I’m realizing, “I hit that point. I hit that incomprehensible demoralization.” If I looked in the mirror, I didn’t know who I was looking back at and I don’t want that. I don’t want that for myself and I certainly don’t want that from my son. I want him to have a healthy thriving mother that can be there for him.

What did your early recovery days look like?

I’ve given several very solid attempts at getting clean and had been successful. I would eventually, at some point, wind up relapsing again. I’m lucky to have found a wonderful sponsor. She’s truly a lifesaver in my eyes and my heart. I’m working with her and giving it my all. I’m giving 110% and she’s taking me through the steps. She’s helping me get through things that come up that might be times in the past where I wouldn’t have been able to handle the situation and would have wanted to just shut my eyes and escape and wind up relapsing because of it. I’ve been making a huge effort to lean into her, lean into the program. The rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have been wonderful to me. Everybody has been incredibly loving, accepting and understanding. I hear things in those rooms quite often at meetings that help me keep going. They help whether it’s reminding me what it’s like to be in the disease or reminding me that there are other people that have gone through what I’ve gone through or whatever it is, it’s a real feeling in the program of togetherness and we need one another. I want to be there for one another and help each other get through this.

What is your opinion of this Twelve-Step Program?

SOA 22 | Back Pain Pills

Back Pain Pills: The path to recovery is being willing to take that first step to ask for help.


Personally, I am grateful to have found this program that revolves around the twelve steps because I feel like I get to go walk through those steps and then I drop them into my life to be a better person and find growth and development as long as I have that desire. I personally think that every human being could use the twelve steps whether they’re an addict or not. We’re lucky in this program to have the twelve steps. They’re a true aid in helping somebody develop the tools they may not have, to get through life and be a contributing member of society, and learn to love myself again. That’s one thing I am quite confident that I’m going to gain from doing these steps. I’m going to connect with myself or reintroduce myself to me, but a version of myself that I love and that I know I am and can be.

Kendra, what do you think works in recovery?

It is a very simple set of guidelines or suggestions. It’s the willingness to take any suggestion, even if it’s not every suggestion that you’re given, especially by our sponsor or by other members in the program that you might look up to or might be living a life that resembles something you want to live. It’s important to be willing. I’ve learned to just go to any lengths to get those things yourself. Willingness is a big one in my book.

What does your future look like to you?

My future looks very positive. My main priority is making sure that I get as healthy as I can get emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically so I can be there for my son. I want to without a doubt be there for anything he might need or want for me. I’m blessed to have him. He’s an amazing kid and I want to give him the mother that he deserves.

The number one goal of an addict is to feed that addiction. Click To Tweet

Are you glad you’re clean and sober today?

I’m very glad. I could not be more grateful at the moment. I could not feel more gratitude for what I’ve already been given in recovery and sobriety.

Thank you so much. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If anybody out there is feeling like they’re absolutely at the lowest point they can be at, or that there’s nobody out there that could possibly understand how they feel and what they’re going through and the hopelessness that they might be feeling, I want to say that it does exist. The people that can help you through this thing, it truly is out there. You just have to be willing to take that first little step to ask for the help. There are so many people out there in this program and in recovery that want to help you get there and overcome it. That’s all I would say.

Kendra, I want to thank you so much.

You’re so welcome.

Kendra is 34 years old and is a client at the Sober Living Environment Santa Cruz at the Gault House. I appreciate you being here. I know you’re nervous and I appreciate your story and I appreciate you being here. To all of the audience, thank you for joining us on the Stories of Addiction podcast. To all our audience, we wish you to stay clean, sober and happy. Thank you.

About Kendra

SOA 22 | Back Pain PillsKendra is a thirty-four-year-old woman who suffered a back injury in a car accident in her teenage years. This caused chronic back pain which lead Kendra to using and then abusing pain pills.

Pain pills lead to heroin by age 24. Homelessness followed.
Kendra attempted recovery several times but relapsed several times.
She wants to be a good mother to her 7-year-old son and this is part of her motivation to find life on the sunny side of the street.

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