'I was addicted to heroin for 9 years. Not even falling pregnant stopped me.'

Honesty Liller was just 12 years old when she first started using drugs. Marijuana at first, and by the time she was in her teens, she was regularly taking magic mushrooms and LSD too. 

"Drinking was a big part of my tween and teen years as well. But I had to smoke marijuana every day, it was my jam. I have some memories for sure that were fun and some that were wild," she tells Mamamia.

Honesty describes her childhood as both beautiful and traumatic, depending on the specific moment. She never really liked herself and didn't quite know where she fit in. 

"I just wanted to fit in with my friends, possibly fill a void in my life."

Watch: The impact of drugs. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

At 17, Honesty was introduced to heroin. She was sitting on her mother's front porch the first time she used it. 

"I remember that day vividly. Something changed in me, and all I wanted to do was keep using. I never thought I would get addicted to heroin, but I was wrong."

Throughout most of her teens, drugs for Honesty were about having fun. Once she moved onto heroin though, things weren't so fun anymore. It was the start of a downward spiral of heroin and opiate addiction that would last more than nine years. 

Within a year of her first hit, Honesty overdosed, and tried the first of many attempts to quit the drug, without success. 


"I tried many forms of treatment for years. I tried faith-based and got baptised, 12-step, therapy, six opiate blocker implants, methadone maintenance, and a 28-day treatment program."

But nothing worked. 

"It was all a mess, really. I would try one, not use heroin for a week or so and then start using again. It was years of misery, pain, guilt, shame, and just not wanting to live."

But the 28-day program did trigger something in her, the feeling of what life could be like without drugs. 

"It was the first time in 13 years that I was actually fully drug-free. I did meet my husband there too."

But the pull towards drugs was simply too strong, and Honesty did whatever she could to get her hands on the next hit. 

"I did whatever I could, hurt whomever I needed to, committed crimes wherever I needed to just get money for drugs. There is a bit of insanity that comes with craving a drug that you know may kill you."

But being dope sick is the worst feeling ever, says Honesty. Like the flu times 10.

"There are so many things that go on in your body that you don't even want to exist anymore. I was mean too, did not want to talk or function without using opiates."

For Honesty though, the lowest point was continuing to use drugs while she was pregnant with her daughter, whom she conceived when she was already addicted. 

"Wanting to be a mum did not outweigh my needing to not be dope sick and my addiction screaming my name. I have done so many horrible things to those that I love, my body, mind, and soul. But, the worst has to be everything I did to my daughter," she explains.


"My family tried to help me for years. Towards the end, they just didn't know what to do anymore. They spent money and energy sending me to treatment/doctors. I put them through hell though."

Light at the end of the tunnel. 

Honesty's stepmother knew the co-founder of The McShin Foundation, a US-based rehabilitation clinic. 

"It was a last attempt to help me, everyone else was done with me. I was only planning to stay for one week, but ended up living there for five months."

At first, she didn't know how to fit in. She was 26 years old and detoxing from heroin. Her five-year-old daughter was living with her mum. But each day got a little better.  

"Living in a home with other women like me was amazing. The peer-to-peer connection is priceless, and it saved my life.  

"Recovery is not just about stopping the use of drugs and alcohol, it is learning to love the human you are meant to be. Early recovery was hard and beautiful at the same time. Every day I slowly built positive self-esteem, self-love, and self-acceptance," she notes.

"Then once I moved out of housing at five months in recovery, I began employment at McShin. There were no female staff members when I lived there, so it was pretty fulfilling to be the first woman staff."

Addiction misconceptions. 

The biggest misconception about drug addiction, according to Honesty, is that it's some sort of moral failing. 

"That it isn't a disease, that people can 'just stop' using once they are addicted. I tried that for years and my addiction was bigger than any 'just stopping'.  

"People really should get educated about what addiction is, how it affects a human's body, and how it affects those around them."


She also believes the global stigma around drug addiction is particularly hard on women. 

"In society, women are still expected to be caregivers. When a woman is addicted, there is so much shame attached to that when those around you don't understand addiction."

Which is exactly why she's happy to talk about it. 

"The more women that show the world they are in recovery and take the time to guide other women in recovery, the negative outlook on women addicted will continue to shrink."

From addict to CEO. 

After Honesty landed the job with the rehab clinic, she took the bull by the horns, learning everything she could about how the organisation worked. 

"Focusing on day-to-day operations and administrative duties was very hard in the beginning of my employment. There have been many challenges I had to overcome throughout all these years."

And she did. She's now the CEO. 

"My recovery process teaches me how to not only lead at McShin, but in all areas of my life. I am not a perfect leader, but I strive to be great."

Her goal now is to be the best leader she can be, while guiding other women to do the same. 

"I don't have all the answers and I remain transparent with that. Having years of experience in this field and life in general has awarded me with many skills. It is my job on this planet to provide as much information as I can to other humans so they can have the life they deserve too."

Feature Image: LinkedIn.