I am Laura Renerro. I am seventeen years old. I am a mother. I am an addict. Being a teen mom is difficult, but I’m trying my best to raise my daughter and to stay sober. I started using at eleven years old after being abused by a family member. My father is an alcoholic who would constantly kick me out of the house when he was drunk. Being on the street, I met addicts who introduced me to and taught me how to use crystal meth. I started to use crystal meth and alcohol because I wanted to stop feeling. I had a father that didn’t want me around, a mom that was always working, and addicts on the street who were there.
School wasn’t important to me. I have hardly any memories of school before fifth grade, and then when I was in school, I would either hide out in the bathroom, the school garden, or I was in the principal’s office because of my violent behavior. In middle school, I ditched class a lot. When I was at school, I wasn’t in class, but I spent time drinking and getting high. By high school, I was getting locked up. I always felt like my teachers and the staff didn’t like me. They would always say that I “was up to no good” always looking at me like if I were a criminal.
Aside from feeling depressed, I became violent, like my dad. No one could tell me anything because I would react instantly, there was no controlling my anger. I was 13 the first time I went to juvenile hall. After I was released, I cared less about life and didn’t mind getting locked up over and over. When I was home, I didn’t get along with my siblings, even though I tried to keep them from becoming like me. Eventually, my mom kicked me out. It was when I was staying at my homegirl’s house that I started feeling sick and discovered that I was pregnant shortly before my court date.
I was sixteen and pregnant in juvenile hall. I asked myself, “What the heck am I doing? Do I really want my child to go through what I’ve been through? Do I want my child to have a parent who is an addict and constantly getting locked up?” The answer was no. My child deserves better.
When I was released from juvenile hall, I started going to school, attended the McAlister drug treatment program, became involved in my community, and started attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. On September 26, 2017, my beautiful daughter was born. She was three months old when I completed McAlister. This was the biggest accomplishment of my life. I didn’t know if I could fight the urge to use, but I did. Going to NA meetings keeps me busy and off the streets, and standing up and talking about my addiction helps me a lot.
Someone once told me that having a child doesn’t stop you from doing drugs, but it can be motivation to stay sober. Everyday I wake up and see her smiling at me. This gives me the strength to stay sober one more day. Like we say at my NA meetings, I take one day at a time.
For the first time, I’m staying in school. For the first time, since I started school at the age of five, I presented on a project that I started and finished. For this time, I feel like my teachers and the staff at my school care about me. Having teachers who are concerned for me, having the guidance of attending twice a week NA meetings, and attending community wrap around gang intervention keep me out of trouble. Although I still have issues with anger, I have learned to take a walk, breathe, and stay busy every Friday, which is a vulnerable day for me.
Life has taught me that although bad things happen, something good comes from it. I’ve also learned that even though you might not see the good things in life, you need to have faith that there is good for you. For people facing challenges like I have, I want to remind them that they have the power to change their life for the better, one day at a time.