Tiffany Howell’s struggle with addiction began in her early teens but it evolved from alcohol to methamphetamine. In her 20s, she hit rock bottom. She had lost custody of her children and fell into prostitution to support her substance abuse. “That was the very bottom. That’s how bad it got for me,” Howell said. “I wasn’t a good mother. I wanted to die, but I was scared to kill myself.“
But at age 29, she was six years sober and pursuing her dreams. “I have my kids, I’m a homeowner, I’m going to law school,” she said. “I never knew my life could be this good or happy. I have peace, I have self-esteem, I have hope.” 
She shared her story in a raw post on Love What Matters to inspire others. Despite all of her hardships and suffering, she managed to overcome and create a life she was proud of. 
The Beginning of Her Alcohol Addiction
Howell’s mother was an addict. Together, they would go to a bar and Howell would play pinball while her mother drank. Howell vowed to herself to never be like her. Instead, she dreamed about the father she had never met, about how he would’ve been the perfect parent.
When she was 14, Howell was already drinking, starting as an attempt to scare her mother sober. When her mother went to jail, she lived with her father for a year but they never connected. After a falling out, she left at age 15. “He didn’t realize how broken I was and that lingering hole that I thought he could fill made me angry,” she wrote. “So I left.”
She began partying and became pregnant at 16. She left high school and tried to make things work with her first husband for over three years. Alcohol was still a large part of their household and the two did not get along. Because of the shared love and happiness when their daughter was born, they decided to conceive again. “That would solve the distance that was widening between us… right? Wrong.”
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From Alcohol to Pills and Drugs
Their son was six months old when Howell and her husband separated. She joined the army and there her alcohol addiction evolved into a pill addiction. “It’s a shame, really, because I would have truly loved the Army had I been sober during that time. It offered so many of the things I craved: structure, family, security. But instead, it became an enabler.” Instead, she got pills for any reason she asked. If she was hurt, sad, anxious, or for any other reason, she got a pill for it. Plus, alcohol was acceptable in her circles. No one ever said she might have a problem and if they did, it would have been a “pot calling the kettle black” situation.
“I got out of the Army even more broken than before,” she continued. “I had a life full of trauma and a newly acquired pill addiction. My other addiction was men. It always had been. Always trying to fill that emptiness in me with someone or something else… but always ending up even more broken and empty than before.”
After multiple failed relationships, she met a man who was also an addict. He got her stuck on drugs she had never tried before. He kept her so inebriated, that she didn’t realize he was abusive toward her son. Their relationship took a dark turn when Howell was arrested for a robbery she had done while high. That very night, her boyfriend put her son into a coma. He was discovered by her ex-in-laws who came to check-in. He spent three weeks in ICU. Upon hearing this news, Howell was informed that she could not visit him. This was a new low for her.
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“I didn’t care about myself anymore.”
At that point, she reunite with another ex-boyfriend and began living on the streets. One night, they got into a fight and Howell got arrested again. When she returned, he was gone. But she had been released with a man who became her next boyfriend. That’s when she started using meth. To maintain this addiction, she began stripping and when that didn’t pay enough, she became a prostitute. “I didn’t care about myself anymore. I didn’t care about that hole inside of me or feeling loved. I didn’t want to feel anything at all. I wanted to die, but I was afraid.”
She continued, “Most of the guys that contacted me were married men wanting to cheat and thinking that it was an easy way to not get caught. They disgusted me; but then again, I disgusted me too.” Then she met with a client but stayed after the transaction, something she hadn’t done before. They talked and she told him her life story and he told her his. He was a recovering addict and encouraged her to become sober too. She grew infatuated with him.
Their business deal evolved into an abusive relationship. “He was controlling and I was codependent, but I got sober. I stayed sober for him at first. Anything to keep him from leaving me. I felt a connection with another person for the first time in what felt like forever and I was scared to lose it, so I did whatever he asked, including staying sober.”
“Now I stay sober for me.”
They had a daughter together and Howell feared he would try to take the child away from her. When the baby was six months old, he did and they underwent a brutal custody battle, and Howell won. She was almost two years sober at this point. A few years later, her first husband succumbed to his addiction and she won custody of her two eldest children.
Years later, she had completely changed her life. She has worked to heal the hole that had led to her addiction and bad habits. She managed to create a new life for herself. “Today I hold myself accountable for my behavior, and it’s empowering. For the most part, I get to decide how my life will go, and when things happen that are out of my control, I get to make choices about how to handle those situations. It’s freeing to live in a way that’s not held hostage by my past.”
She published her story to inspire those who suffered similarly. Sharing experience is an important part of recovery; after all, if it’s possible for one person to recover, it’s possible for others to as well. Howell used to attend three or four Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings a day at the beginning of her recovery.
As she concluded her post: “The promises of a better life, a life that I never could have dreamed for myself, have truly come true and more continues to manifest as long as I show up to do the work. I got sober for a man, I stayed sober for my baby, and now I stay sober for me.”
Keep Reading: From 12-year-old meth addict to honors college scholar: The redemption of Ginny Burton
- “Recovering addicts share astounding before-and-after photos and sober positivity on Instagram.” Nicole Pelletiere. GMA. March 16, 2020
- “‘I got sober for a man, stayed sober for my baby, now I stay sober for me.’: Abuse survivor shares journey from meth addiction to sobriety.” Love What Matters. Tiffany Howell.