Growing up, Tearney Johnson describes her life as a nightmare in the beginning but a blessing in the end.
At an early age, she said her parents were crank addicts (crank is a form of methamphetamine). There was a cycle of abuse that continued throughout her life that made it difficult for her to gain structure and character.
She said her mom was very impulsive, so they moved around a lot — there was no real sense of belonging.
They moved to about six different states and eventually ended up homeless.
She was 12 years old when she was offered marijuana from her stepdad and began using it every day. She was 13 when she started using crank with her mom.
Tearney was 14 when she began using Spice, a synthetic form of weed, and using pills. By then, she was a full-blown drug addict.
Tearney said she didn’t really have a relationship with her biological father growing up. But when she lived with him for two weeks at the age of 15, she was faced with the challenge of going through withdrawals. She said she was trying to build a relationship with her father, but spent most of her nights in the bathtub trying to come off of pills.
Her dad wanted her to choose between staying with him or going back to her mom. Tearney said she felt obligated to take care of her mom. But instead of staying with her mom, the night she got back from visiting her dad, she was placed in foster care for the next two years.
While she was in foster care, Tearney continued to use drugs and fought hard to get back to her mom. Soon, she found out her mom moved away and left her. This development increased her drug use.
By age 17, her addiction began to take a toll on her life.
She started going to Heartview, but instead of focusing on her recovery, she started a new relationship with someone she met in treatment.
It was her first time clean, but after five months, she relapsed and ended up in prison with three felonies.
As soon as she got out, she found out her mom’s health was struggling. Tearney ended up relapsing again, not knowing how to deal with it all.
After her mom died, no one was there to take care of her brothers, so she took custody of them.
After using drugs for years and revolving in and out of jail, she ended up getting into the drug court program which gave her the structure she needed to get sober.
She will celebrate seven months next month. Her sobriety birthday is March 3, 2019.
She gets excited talking about her life now in sobriety. She is connected with Blessed Builders, a Bismarck organization that helps her give back to the community and others that struggle with homelessness and addiction.
She says it’s her faith that helps her stay grounded. She is involved with church and serving others. She even joined Heartview’s softball team.
Her advice to anyone struggling: Try new things. You never know unless you try. Get out of your comfort zone. There are people that want to help. Get rid of all your old using friends.
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