A drug addict shared photos of herself from her lowest points of heroin use to encourage others to seek help for their addiction.
Melissa Lee Matos has been clean for a year and five months, and shared some photos of herself on Facebook at the maximum of her heroin usage.
The mother-of-one, from West Virginia, is seen drooping against a bathroom wall, with dark marks across her face and her eyes rolling back into her head.
‘This was what I looked like, daily, for years,’ she wrote. ‘This is what my husband dealt with. This is what my little girls walked in on.
‘This is what my family and friends saw, on the rare occasions I left the house. I was SICK. I was DYING. I was so far gone I thought I could NEVER recover.’
The main side effects of heroin are painful sores and sores on the skin, dark spots on the face and body and weight loss.
Another photo shows a zombie-like Lee Matos covered in sores as she holds a bowl of chips.
‘I was so lost I couldn’t imagine a life without using. I just wanted to die. I didn’t realize I was hardly alive,’ she wrote in her Facebook post.
And now, a year and half later, Lee Matos is recovering from addiction and clean of drugs.
In recent photos, she has returned to a healthy weight, the dark marks are gone, and she’s smiling, having finally ‘found life’.
She revealed in her Facebook post that she wants her story to encourage others to seek help with drug addiction because ‘too many people are dying’.
‘I have friends who need to see this,’ she wrote. ‘It goes beyond what my words can accomplish.’
She told readers to share the harrowing photos with anyone that might need a push toward ending their addiction.
‘If you are currently in active addiction, this is my plea to you. Look at these pictures,’ she wrote. ‘Images of a dead girl. A needle junkie with a habit so fierce she spent days and nights in a self induced coma on her bathroom floor.
‘A girl who would spend every cent on dope and forget she had kids to feed and take care of. A girl who lost every single thing she ever had. A girl who was so sick she thought she would never ever find a way out, until she did.
‘If you are reading this and are going through the same pain I did, I am begging you to reach out. I died more than once. I have now found life.
‘I promise you, there is HOPE. There is recovery. There is freedom and serenity and you are worthy of it.’
Lee Matos encouraged people to share their struggles with her, posting an email address they could reach her at, and included a link to a recovery page.
‘Please, please reach out. You do not have to suffer any longer,’ she wrote. ‘You are not alone. Just reach out your hand, I’m right here.
‘My name is Melissa. I am a RECOVERED addict. Share with me your darkness, and I’ll lead you towards the light. I love you all.’
Just hours after sharing the post, Lee Matos said that she had received more than a hundred messages and thousands of comments from people struggling with addiction.
She received many messages of support, she said there were also people criticizing her for getting into drugs in the first place.
She courageously responded to her critics, writing: ‘To the people who decided to bash me, attack my character and belittle me, put a value on my life and tell me I don’t deserve to be a mother, here is my message to you.
‘Two days ago, I posted a message of truth, hope and recovery, hoping my message would reach even one lost soul.
‘That message has now gone viral. It has been viewed and shared by over a million. For every ONE hateful comment, I have received FIFTY messages of support and love.
‘I’m sorry if my story offended you. Please forgive me for not responding to your ignorant messages and comments, but I am currently extremely preoccupied with spreading a message and helping those who have reached out.’
Lee Matos is the latest of dozens of stories of people sharing images in hopes of showing the effects of heroin, as the parts of the United States are ravaged by a heroin epidemic.