Road to Redemption: Austin mom shares her past drug addiction in new book

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(ABC 6 News) – There’s the saying, "you can’t judge a book by its cover." For one Austin woman, you could say that’s literally the case.

Growing up, Brittany Carlin never did drugs, smoked, or drank alcohol. Then, things took a turn when she developed a heroin addiction shortly after graduating high school.

"I spent a few years going down. Losing everything, losing everyone’s trust, and not being able to maintain a job."

Brittany says "you are who you hang out with." Freshman year of college, her ex-boyfriend was using drugs. She tried them and from there, things started to spiral.

"Opioids, pills were available and so I started with the pills. Naively, I was thinking, ‘hey, it’s prescribed drugs even though they weren’t prescribed to me.’ You know, you just manipulate yourself into believing it’s okay."

Those pills led to using heroin. A high she describes as a ‘euphoria’ feeling.

"It made me stop feeling any emotional pain, mental pain but also physical pain. It made me not think about life."

Trying to get sober, after several relapses, she was about to lose almost everything including her job, and her apartment. She said the relapses came from emotional triggers and withdrawals. A pain she describes as ‘worse than childbirth.’

"I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Promising to get her life back on track and stay sober for six months, two months in, she found out she was pregnant with her oldest son, Benny.

"I think that was the turning point of knowing it wasn’t just me anymore. I had to take care of him."

She describes her husband Nathaniel as her biggest supporter. It wasn’t always that way. When they met, she was more than a year sober, and he had his reservations. Eventually, he didn’t let her past define her.

"I don’t think it’s necessary to know everything about your spouse in the past. It’s important to support them with where they’re at right now," said Nathaniel.

Struggling with drinking, it was the relationship that got him the help he needed.

"My wake-up call was you don’t drink when you’re dating a person in recovery. So really, I continued to drink until I met Brittany and then I just stopped. She didn’t ask me to. I guess that was really one of the biggest ways to support her."

Life back on track, she became a frequent visitor at Sweet Reads in Austin. Building a relationship with the owner and telling her about the memoir she was working on. It’s a story, not even owner Lisa Deyo expected.

"I didn’t really know. She talked about a memoir but I really didn’t know about her addiction. People have a lot of stories," said Deyo.

"The reason I even wrote the book was for my kids. I have three kids now and they’re my whole world. Eventually, I want them to be able to read it and see what I went through, to be transparent about it."

At six and three, her oldest kids might not understand now, but they still see their mom in the brightest light.

"Mom’s the best mom in the world," said 6-year-old Benny. "She fixes our problems when we make mistakes and she lets us watch cartoons all the time."

"I kept trying to get clean knowing I wanted a better life for myself," added Brittany. "Eventually I found that it took changing everything in my life to be able to maintain it. To stay sober is one of my goals because I know I have to work at it everyday. All it would take is one time, and I would spiral and lose everything."

Brittany said she has her family, a degree, and a job as a social worker and is helping other recovering addicts. The next year, she wants to relax and take it all in.

To buy Brittany’s book, you can click here.