Cary Bennett's Story
My name is Cary Bennett. I’m 39 years old, and I grew up in Buckhannon with amazing parents who gave my brother and I a great childhood. I was an excellent student throughout school, was on the honor roll, played soccer, and even earned a presidential scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
But I also struggled with low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
Looking back, I was first addicted to attention from men. I just wanted to be wanted so badly. I would throw myself at any guy who would give me attention, whether they were good for me or not. And ultimately, that’s how my substance abuse began.
I had just finished my first year in the nursing program at West Virginia Wesleyan when I met a guy who was 10 years older than me, and he gave me all his attention. He also had that “bad guy” image I tended to go for, so I threw every part of myself into a relationship with him. I was enthralled with this man. Soon, he introduced me to crystal meth. And not long after that introduction, I threw everything good I had away… I dropped out of college and moved in with him, and we spent most of our days doing hard drugs. I lost all my friends, and sadly, I also lost my relationship with my family – they were so disappointed in me that I couldn’t even bare to face them… I would go months without speaking to them.
Soon, my relationship with this man became abusive in every single way – physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. For the next 10 years of my life, I lived in misery. I didn’t know how to get out. I thought so little of myself, and the abuse made my self-worth even lower. Using drugs became a crutch… I would use to numb myself to the reality of what my life had become.
Somehow during this time, I managed to earn an associate degree in medical assisting, as well as an LPN degree. I began working as a pharmacy technician – I was a girl addicted to pills, surrounded by prescription narcotics. Not surprisingly, I was caught stealing controlled substances from the pharmacy and was arrested for the first time. It scared me to death, but unfortunately, it didn’t scare me enough.
My addiction only got worse, but after ten years, I finally found the courage to end my relationship with this man.
In 2015, I started dating another man, and it was good for a little while. But we were both addicts, and he brought out the worst in me. I started shooting up heroin, and it became my new obsession. In the peak of my addiction, I found out I was pregnant. We were happy, and we both vowed to get clean and be a happy family. What we didn’t realize was, that’s not the way addiction works…
He didn’t stop using. And neither did I. People think it should be so easy to turn off your addiction once you’re pregnant, but that’s not the case. When you’re an addict, you’re powerless… you use against your will. I tried – I wanted to be clean for my baby, but I struggled through my whole pregnancy.
When I went into labor two weeks early, I had been high the night before. The nurses knew right away that I was on drugs. They treated me horribly. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it… But it still hurt. I had dreams of this experience being the most beautiful moment, and it wasn’t. I gave birth, and the very next day, CPS came in and took my baby away.
After two weeks, CPS gave me back custody of my son. I would love to say that was motivation enough for me to get clean, but it wasn’t. In my mind, now that I wasn’t pregnant, there was no harm in me doing drugs.
In August of 2019, my son’s father and I went to buy heroin. We couldn’t wait until we got home, so we pulled into a CVS parking lot. We didn’t know at the time that there was fentanyl in the heroin we were shooting up. As a result, we both overdosed in the car, with my two-year old son and dog in the back seat. The cops came… They took us to the hospital, took my dog to the pound, and took my son away... again.
But… my story starts to get brighter from here, and I can honestly say that this day – the worst day of my life – was the biggest blessing of my life, even if in disguise. Had I not overdosed that day, I’m positive I wouldn’t be where I am today. For the year preceding my overdose, I was done with drugs… I just didn’t know how to stop. After this happened, after being charged with felony child neglect, I was forced to stop.
I entered a nine-month treatment program in Huntington and did very well in the program. Even still, after finishing the program, I had one more relapse that sent me back to jail for two months. But upon my release, I was sentenced to drug court, and that’s really where I learned how to live without drugs…
Last month, I celebrated three years of being substance-free.
And last year, I regained custody of my son, who is now six. He is everything to me… my motivation in life and what keeps me clean. The life I’ve lived and the things I’ve been through have made me a better mom… I’m mindful of every moment now, because I know what it’s like to lose everything.
I’ve been working at Community Care as a peer recovery support specialist since last October, sharing my story of recovery to help others overcome their addiction. I especially love working with those who are dealing with CPS issues, because I’ve overcome those same obstacles. I like to give others hope that it can happen for them, too. Eventually, I’d like to finish my bachelor’s degree… and one day, I’d love to become a therapist.
I share my story because I want people to know that there is always hope. You’re never too far gone, and you should never feel ashamed to reach out for help. Recovery is real. If we don’t tell our stories, people won’t know what addiction really looks like. And if we stay silent and anonymous, people won’t know that recovery is possible.