A woman overcomes her drug addiction and wants to help others


Melissa Christian has turned her life around after five years of painkiller addiction.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — It’s a deadly problem that affects millions of Americans every day. According to the CDC, more than 80,000 Americans died from opioid abuse in 2021.

However, there is hope for those who want help. An Orange Park woman wants to help those struggling by sharing her story of battling addiction.

“My lowest point was I bought a brand new car and slammed it into the wall in Normandy at about 130 miles an hour,” Melissa Christian recalled.

It was in 2020 and this accident was the final straw after 5 years of drug addiction for Christian. She was originally prescribed painkillers after she was hit by a tractor-trailer in 2015.

“Something with your name on it you think is legal,” Christian said, “it’s good and you’re not doing anything wrong and before you know it I’m tense and hooked.”

When prescriptions ran out, Christian bought drugs on the street and spent his last dollar on pills instead of his children.

“There’s no such thing as a normal day,” Christian said, “the medicine that’s supposed to make you feel better makes you feel worse and you need it just to function, to wake up in the morning. You have to having it to begin with, your whole life revolves around it, it sucks the soul out of you, the life of you, who you are as a person I couldn’t stop on my own, I tried, I would pass a few days here, a few weeks there, but I couldn’t, it had gotten me, the grip was too tight.”

Christian was Baker Acted after the car crash in 2020, then checked into the River area on her daughter’s 12th birthday in hopes of getting help to break her addiction.

River Region has served the community of Jacksonville for 50 years. CEO Dr. Jacqueline Dowdy said her organization works with partners in the healthcare community to find the best possible care for its customers.

“We provide mental health services to those who are dealing with concurrent disorders,” Dowdy said, “We are seeing more and more of these mental health clients increasing and coming through our doors and some are coming in with a mental health issue. drug addiction and there is also a mental health issue.”

“River Region gave me the tools I needed to get my mind back together,” said Christian.

Now almost 2 years sober, Melissa Christian has given birth to her 3rd child and is more present in her children’s lives and more committed to work as a beautician. She also has a message for anyone currently struggling with addiction.

“It all starts with a choice, I make the same choice every day,” Christian said, “I get up and decide I’m not going back to what broke me, I won’t. show up and do the right thing and it gets easier every day to the point that I don’t even think about it.”

And now she’s an example of how to get out of the clutches of addiction.

If you want more information about the river area, a link to their website is here.

To find free, confidential help from public health agencies or to find addiction treatment and information, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline: 1 -800-662-4357.

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