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Cheryl traces the source of her 15-year cocaine addiction back to her childhood. When she was 8 years old, Cheryl says she was molested—causing emotional and physical trauma that destroyed her self-esteem. "My first drug was fear," she says. To cope with her abuse, Cheryl says she began smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and having promiscuous sex as a teenager. Then, she says she turned to cocaine. "I believe that I made a willing choice to get high because I just didn't want to feel it anymore," she says.

Cheryl's cocaine addiction took its toll on her entire family—and she says one of her lowest points was her daughter's eighth birthday. With no money to throw a party, Cheryl raised the cash she needed by having a garage sale. With money in hand, she left to buy her daughter a birthday cake—but never made it back. "I went to get high," she says. "The money sat in my hand, and the drug sat on my heart, and one outweighed the other."

Although she is clean now, Cheryl says her life might have taken a different course had she gotten help or therapy earlier—but she was too terrified to ask for it. "I slept and I ate and I drank fear [after the abuse]," she says. "I love my children. But I hated myself so greatly that I never could understand … that I was not [to blame for what happened to me]," she says.
FROM: Addiction: Why Can't They Stop?
Published on April 09, 2007