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Living Proof: What Drugs Really Do

Living Proof: What Drugs Really Do
October 05, 2023

“I thought I did something to deserve all this,” Lorie McLaughlin, ACCADA Peer Recovery Specialist shared.

“I said to myself, ‘You must have killed an angel in a prior life’ due to the childhood trauma I experienced. To avoid all of those feelings, I turned to substances,” she said. 

Substance abuse has all kinds of beginnings, but at their core, most addicts begin using to alleviate pain—physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, and psychological pain. Sometimes that pain isn’t even something a user can name. For Lorie, the many instances of trauma that dominated her childhood became the unnamed open wounds she carried with her into her formative teenage years.

People assume that substance abuse is something that a person should be able to just stop, but that’s not the way addiction works. As a recovering drug addict, Lorie knows firsthand.

“Some people can use ten times and not become addicted,” Lorie said, “Some people use just once and automatically become addicted.” 

Addiction can be passed down through generations, making some individuals more genetically susceptible to addiction than others. In fact, children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction.

“Once you’re on drugs, your brain is hijacked,” she shared. “Drugs, alcohol, sex… any addiction becomes number one—it’s your survival. It becomes like eating, sleeping, drinking water, and breathing.”

The Road to Recovery begins at Rock Bottom

For years, Lorie’s life was dominated by drugs. 

“I started smoking cigarettes at 9. I started drinking at 11. I was smoking weed by 16. I was on meth when I was 25 and cocaine around the same time,” she said. “I continued my addiction for years. 

“Life was horrible. I’d look in the mirror and say all kinds of negative things. I was raising three kids as an addict. Emotionally, I wasn’t available for them. I took care of their physical needs,” but beyond that, “I couldn’t do it on my own. To me, I couldn’t live without the next hit of meth.”

Lorie was 49 when she was arrested for manufacturing meth. She sat in jail for a week after her arrest in 2015. She arrived malnutritioned, dehydrated, and sleep deprived. The whole week she’d wake up to eat and then go back to sleep. By the second week, however, Lorie had devised a scheme to get herself out of jail.

When Lorie called for her anxiety meds, she threw herself down the stairs with the goal of making it look like an accident. But something miraculous happened.

“As I fell down the stairs, it felt like God gently placed me at the bottom of the stairs.”

While she was in the hospital, Lorie received a muscle relaxer and an opiate for pain. When she returned to jail, she was a stimulant user, numbed out by opiates. But when she asked for her pain meds, she was denied. They told Lorie, “I’ve got news for you. We aren’t giving you narcotics here.”

The jail had video evidence of Lorie’s disorderly conduct. The combination of God’s saving grace in her fall down the stairs and the jail’s determination not to give Lorie the narcotics she asked for reset the course of her life.

The Long Road to Recovery

Lorie has spent the last eight years clean and sober, working through mental health counseling at ACCADA and participating in an intensive recovery program at Crossway. She now serves as the Peer Recovery Specialist at ACCADA, helping others navigate the hard road of recovery.

“Turning 50 in jail was tough, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m so glad that God gave me the opportunity and I’m in a job I absolutely adore.”

People who aren’t addicts don’t understand what drugs do to your brain

“It destroys all of your perception,” Lorie shared. “It takes precedence over all things. Your addiction becomes top priority even over things and people that you love, even over your own well being. You believe that without that next hit you’re going to die.”

When you’re at the beginning of your recovery journey, giving up drugs forever feels impossible. If you can take it step by step, you can give an addict hope for recovery. Focusing on the day-to-day journey is far more attainable.

Lorie’s heart is to give people hope. “I have things now that I never had before. Independence and freedom I never dreamed of,” she said.

How to Get Help: The First Steps

Because of the power addiction has over a person’s life, it’s difficult to be able to help someone who is unwilling to change. 

Lorie tells family and friends of addicts, “If you’re enabling them, the best thing to do is to stop that action. It’s hard, it hurts, but you have to let them live where they’re living. 

“Some people don’t realize they have a problem. Bringing it to their attention might move them a little closer to realizing that.” 

If one person says something, and then another person says something, and then another, and so on, eventually, the addict may start to suspect that all these people might be right.

“For someone who is struggling with addiction, reach out and get help. I know you feel alone and you probably don’t like yourself, you don’t want to feel feelings you need to feel, but it can be done,” Lorie said. 

Even though Lorie used drugs for 28 years, she’s been clean for eight.

“Life is so much better since I got out from under that mess. The sun shines, I see beautiful things happen everyday.”

Lorie continued, “If you need to, see a mental health professional, the trauma you’ve been through is not your fault. Mental health and addiction go together; you can get the mental health support you need to release things that you’re carrying around.”

“You’re beautiful, you’re valued, people love you. Please get help.”


ACCADA offers recovery, treatment, and prevention services to people in Ashland and Loudonville. Learn more about our services or call (419) 289-7675 to speak with one of our staff members for more information about our support services.

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Ashland County Council on
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In addition to our services in Ashland, we offer services in Loudonville. Our Loudonville office is at the Kettering Health Center, 546 North Union Street. We provide services at this location on Thursdays from 1 to 5 PM.

To schedule an appointment, call (419) 289-7675.