MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Jessica Vazquez is sharing a personal, painful and eventually uplifting story.
She’s a mother of four who lost it all after she began shooting up heroin at 30 years old.
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“I was a heroin addict, I suffered from substance misuse. I’ve been in recovery now for four and a half years. “
“I lost my house, I lost my job, I lost custody of my children. Someone who had never been in trouble with the law before, ”she said.
But it would soon get much worse.
“We went and purchased a bag, and it was not from our normal guy, and actually my boyfriend at the time overdosed and I called 911 and by the time I got to the hospital I was going in and out,” she said.
Jessica said she knew that heroin was laced with fentanyl and shot it up anyway. She died that day. A shot of Narcan brought her back.
“It was the weirdest feeling because I remember telling myself, ‘Remember to breathe.’ And I couldn’t remember, I had to keep telling myself to breathe and everything went black, ”she recalled.
“Did you die?” CBS4’s Ted Scouten asked.
“They said I did,” Jessica responded. “My heart stopped.”
You’d think that would have eased heroin and fentanyl’s grip on her – but it didn’t, it got worse. It wasn’t until December of 2017 when she had enough.
Jessica was a passenger in a car, high on fentanyl-laced heroin, when a Pembroke Pines officer came to their parked car. When the officer put his hand into the open window, body cam video shows the driver took off, dragging the officer down the street, until he finally fell to the road. He survived, and because of that horrendous experience, so did Jessica.
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“That was my turning point on December 19th, 2017. That was the last day I used,” she said. “I said ‘I have to do something different. I have to do something different. ‘ So, I chose to cold turkey off of fentanyl, ”she said.
Jessica went into recovery, gaining sobriety and getting her life back.
“I have a home, I was able to get full custody back of my children. They’re all in the same home. I have an immense appreciation for life and my recovery, ”she said smiling.
Jessica now works at the South Florida Wellness Network, where she helps others navigate recovery. She also goes onto the street to pass out Narcan. As she held up some of that Narcan, Scouten asked, “This means something to you. Tell me? “
Jessica responded, “I wouldn’t be here. It saved my life! “
Jessica knows the deadly fentanyl epidemic has gotten much worse.
“People are dying more now than before. It’s just so bad, ”she said. “It’s in everything. They have compressed pills that they’re selling in the streets. You’re not buying Xanax anymore, you’re not buying Percocet anymore you’re buying fentanyl that’s compressed, ”she worries.
Now, she hopes her story and the countless stories of other survivors will serve as both a warning and inspiration.
“It takes one split second to lose everything, and it takes months and years to get a fraction of it back. It gives such an appreciation for life, ”she said.
Jessica wants people to know that help is available for those who are ready to make a change.
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If you are looking for help with addiction, here are some helpful links: