It’s been seven months now since Emily Sullivan has used heroin. Sometimes, she says, she misses it.
“The euphoria is what we crave so it would probably feel really great in the moment and numb everything I don’t want to feel,” Sullivan said.
The last time Sullivan used, she ended up minutes from death.
She doesn’t remember much from that morning at her parents’ house. It was the second time in two days. She had overdosed and been revived by paramedics.
One day 12 years ago, another student at Central Dauphin High School gave her a pill: OxyContin.
“The choice was totally taken from me after I put that first one in my body. It’s just like you don’t have an ability to make any decisions at all. It’s just like you crave it, every part of you down to your nerve endings, your brain, every part of you craves it and there’s nothing I wouldn’t have done in the grips of that addiction to continue that,” Sullivan said.
When it was difficult to get more pills, she found dealers selling another opioid: heroin.
For more than a decade, she endured stints in jail, rehab, and hospitals.
Last summer, her parents took her in.
Her parents say their sweet, loving, and caring daughter had disappeared long ago, replaced with a thief and a liar. They say there were drug dealers coming to their house and they had to try every trick in the book and stay five steps ahead of her.
Sullivan says paramedics have saved her life 11 times.
With that last overdose in July, she decided she never wanted to feel that much guilt and shame again.
She hasn’t used since.
When asked what makes her happy these days, she said going to work and paying the bills, because those two things make her feel normal.