GREAT FALLS- Last year, the White House declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. It’s an epidemic that can strike anyone, from housewives to construction workers.
Sara Sneigoski has been around addiction most of her life.
“I got introduced to meth when I was 13…in eighth grade,” said Sara, a treatment assistant at Rocky Mountain Treatment Center in Great Falls.
Sara, 32 years old, and her twin brother were adopted into an alcoholic family. She never finished high school, but at 19, she got off meth. The sobriety didn’t last.
“And then I started shooting up meth and heroin when I was was 28,” said Sara.
Her rock bottom led to homelessness, divorce, and termination of her rights as a mother to her two kids.
“I went completely insane. I was scared of every single human on this earth. I lost all faith in humanity,” said Sara.
It was so bad she felt her only options were jail, a mental hospital, or suicide. In one of her darkest moments, she saw a glimmer of hope.
“I was laying in a ditch and I thought what am I going to do? What am I going to do? Somehow by the grace of God, a counselor found me and I ended up here that day,” said Sara.
She completed a 60-day treatment at Rocky Mountain Treatment Center, but soon after came her divorce, loss of parental rights, and struggling with the death of her best friend. Humbled by homelessness, Sara relapsed.
“I relapsed so hard that I was hospitalized for a week,” said Sara. “I ended up with endocarditis which is a heart infection, an infection that leads to your heart. And that’s when I found out I was pregnant, and I’m homeless and I just didn’t know how much more I could take. I can’t take this anymore. Why is my life so horrible? I ended up having a meth lab in my car.”
Sara says she considered having an abortion but instead, devoted all her energy to recovery. She attended up to five support meetings a day, more determined than ever to stay sober.
“As soon as I gave birth to my child, I instantly loved him, it was wonderful. I got a place of my own and I got a car and I just started building myself back up again on my own,” said Sara.
Opioid addiction can strike anyone. A 58-year-old man who wanted to remain anonymous told MTN about his addiction. He grew up in Great Falls and started drinking after his parents divorced. He went through treatment for alcoholism in 1988 and raised a family with his wife. He was sober until 2013 when he got medication for physical pain accumulated over a career in construction.
“So after about two years it had progressed from one simple little painkilling prescription to full blown addiction. At the very end it was like 180 pills in 15 days,” he said.
In severe opiate withdrawals, he knew he was again headed down a path to destruction.
“I had contemplated suicide. I actually looked over at the pistol hanging on my coat rack in the garage,” he said.
He asked a close friend to take him to Rocky Mountain Treatment Center where he underwent a 30-day treatment. His loved ones called him a “pill head” and a “junkie.” They were truthful descriptions that made him even more determined to get to where he is today.
“I love this part of my life, its the best part of my life I’ve ever lived. I stay very connected to the treatment center here,” he said.
In her role as a Treatment Assistant at the center, Sara also stays connected.
“I know I never want anybody to suffer as bad as a I did. And if I can even help one person, then that’s all I want to do,” said Sara.
Road to recovery: Great Falls man recalls his battle with alcoholism
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help and information is available through these resources:
- Rocky Mountain Treatment Center
- Rimrock Foundation
- Montana Chemical Dependency Center
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Centers for Disease Control
Reporting by Tim McGonigal for MTN News