Opioid epidemic survivor shares story of beating the odds

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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -- The opioid epidemic continues to spread across areas such as the state of Michigan, claiming many lives due to overdose.

Some however, are able to overcome this battle with addiction, like Taylor DeAngelis. The Lapeer County, Mich. woman is now using her struggles with heroin addiction to help others right here at home.

"I thought that I was just going to be a drug addict for the rest of my life," says DeAngelis, the now 23-year-old former heroin addict.

Her addiction began when she was just 14.

"In 10th grade, I got a hip surgery on my right hip and they prescribed me pain pills, opioids," said DeAngelis. "And I remember by the time I got my second script, I was pretty much addicted."

But growing up as some would call, "the all-American girl," many didn't know what Taylor was facing.

"I gained a pretty heavy pill addiction in high school, but I ended up graduating high school with honors and going to Michigan State University," she explained. "And that's really where I spun out of control."

From there, it was anything to reach her high.

"I was supposed to be buying pain pills that night, actually he and his friends took them all so there was nothing to buy," she said. "He was like, 'Well, I know a guy who has heroin if you want to buy that instead,' and I had no qualms about it. I was like, 'OK, lets go.'"

It wasn't until three failed attempts at rehab, being pronounced dead and a Narcan injection that finally, she was brought to life.

"I actually overdosed and died on heroin in Pontiac, Michigan on December 12th, 2014," she recalled. "By the time the paramedics got to me, I wasn't breathing, but they revived me. They injected me with Narcan and they revived me in the back of the ambulance on the way to St Joseph's Hospital."

That was the day she knew, this was now life or death, so she made a change after so many times of telling herself she would do it eventually.

"I went down to Houston, Texas though a program called Saving Grace Women's Home and it changed my life," she said. "I work there currently, I just got married and I'm about two and a half years sober now."

Today, shes back in Flint, Mich., sharing her story in hopes of saving someone else just like her.

"I never thought that I would be sober, let along coming back and actually speaking against drugs and working in a place where I help people," says DeAngelis.

Because she says addiction is not a choice, but seeing the light is.

Although she has lost many friends and even family members to addiction, she says this epidemic is something she will never stop fighting against.

While DeAngelis says she will always be considered an addict, she knows she is strong enough through friends, family and faith to overcome what many have not been so lucky to come through.

She also encourages anyone struggling with addiction to reach out to savinggracewh.com for support.

Read the original version of this article at abc12.com.