For eighteen years I was on and off of drugs. For almost six years out of that eighteen I was strung out on heroin and crack cocaine, prostituting to support my habit. I hadn’t planned it that way – no one ever does.
Born in 1968 I was raised by my Japanese-American parents in a middle class family with one younger sister. By the age of fifteen I had left high school and joined an Asian gang. By the age of 20 I was shot in a drive by shooting in West Covina with a .38 in which the bullet entered by the upper left arm, shattered the bone, went through my arm and entered my left side where the bullet passed by my heart and then went through my liver, left lung and diaphragm and lodged in my back, ½ an inch from my spine.
The shooting occurred at a Catholic church and a priest was there who gave me my last rites with the holy water – at which I became very angry and cussed him out that I wasn’t going to die. I was taken to the hospital twenty minutes later by ambulance. In the ambulance I attempted praying (I didn’t know how) by saying the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’ over and over in my head. But the whole time while I was in the ambulance there was a figure sitting at my right side, and it gave me peace. I knew it wasn’t my time yet.
After I was released from the hospital I continued to run with my gang friends who had started to use harder drugs, both cocaine and methamphetamine. We had always gotten drunk, smoked pot and dropped LSD, but once we began doing cocaine and meth – getting high became a priority.
I began hanging out in Hollywood with my sister, and soon after decided to leave my husband (we married when I was 17) and because I believe that he truly loved me, he let me go without too much trouble. (Regarding leaving the gang)
After I left my husband I got deeper and deeper into cocaine and smoking crack, and lived with a couple of my old ‘homeboys’ who were always more involved in the drug lifestyle than the gang fights and drive bys. One day, after being up all night, one of my roommates came home – ‘glowing’. I thought he had been taking some great drug and asked what he took. He said “I got ‘saved’! (Oh no) and I told him that I didn’t want to hear it. But I watched him change before my own eyes, and one day I prayed and asked God to forgive me for all the crap I’d done and to set me free from drugs and smoking cigarettes. He did, almost overnight!
I began going to church, got married, went to Beauty College and got a great job. Then I got pregnant and had a wonderful, beautiful son. But things were hard, and everything that went wrong – I blamed on God. Long story short, the pressure of being a new mother and being upset that I had just started my career and it had been interrupted – I began to start smoking and drinking again, and before I knew it – was using cocaine again. I was angry that God didn’t ‘fix’ my life and make it better.
Before long, I was a MESS. I don’t blame my husband at the time. He needed to get away from me before I hurt my son. I had begun bringing him with me to the drug dealer and couldn’t believe what I started to become. (It only got worse) He told me that he was leaving me one night when I came home from work, and I freaked out and left. I had to literally pry my son off of my neck while he cried, “Please don’t leave me, mommy.” I walked out and only came back once while no one was home to get some clothes. From the day I left, I would not allow myself to be sober or I’d literally FREAK OUT. The guilt I felt for leaving my son was so overwhelming that I kept a Vodka bottle near the bed wherever I ended up the night before so that I could drink as soon as I got up and if possible, a line of cocaine or a hit of crack to wake me up.
To come down off of the cocaine – I began smoking heroin, and before I knew it I was strung out and needed it to ‘get well’ and function as a normal human being. I couldn’t work ‘dope sick’ and one day my boss noticed me after I had been out all night and had done all my dope and had to go to work sick. He thought I was high. (Quite the opposite – I NEEDED to get high to get normal!)
After losing my job, I started prostituting to support my habit. I would get so freaked out whenever I got dope sick, I became suicidal. When I had first gotten strung out I didn’t know it – when I didn’t do heroin for 24 hours, I became sick and thought that I had the flu. I called a friend (who soon after became my boyfriend) and he told me that I was strung out and brought me some dope. Once I started smoking it, I felt fine and swore that I would ‘never let myself be sick like that again. I had a saying, “I’d rather be dead than dope sick.” It wasn’t long before I was using the needle.
I attempted suicide numerous times, overdosing and slicing my wrists. I was SO MISERABLE. I hated myself for leaving my son but was powerless to stop using the drugs. Heroin had become my god, I was a slave to it and would do anything for it.
My boyfriend was all I had and he stuck with me through anything and everything – even after all the times I had gone to jail and he’d find out about my prostituting over and over. Yes, we had a seriously codependent dysfunctional relationship at best, but I loved him very much – so when I found out that he cheated on me with my best friend while I was in jail – I was DEVESTATED and became even more suicidal.
My superior court judge, Stephen Marcus (who started ‘Drug Court’ in LA and who I still keep in touch with and who even came to my wedding two years ago) had threatened to send me to prison if I left the 5th rehab he sent me to because I left the all the others he sent me to. Well, I left again and the judge put out a $200,000 warrant for my arrest. I didn’t want to go to prison, so I decided that the best thing would be for me to end my life for certain this time.
My boyfriend and I lived in an 8 (eight) story apartment building where we could climb up to the roof and hang out. I would sit up there every time I was upset and smoke cigarettes, and ‘plan’ on jumping off the roof. I believed that it would be a sure thing.
One day my boyfriend and I went and got 16 klonapins (sp.? Anti-anxiety pills that put you to sleep or at least make you seriously out of it) and decided to ‘kick’ heroin. Apparently, we each took one, my boyfriend fell asleep and then I took the other 15. I took a train to a friend’s house, called my drug connection, got both heroin and cocaine and shot up a bunch of speedballs. I then called another friend who picked me up and took me back to the train station, where I took the train back home and went up to the roof. Whether I jumped or fell is unclear, but either way, I hit a tree on the way down which broke my fall before hitting the ground. I completely shaved off one side CLEAN.
I woke up in the Cedar Sinai hospital four days later after being in a coma and after a craniotomy. I was brain damaged, my motor skills all messed up and I didn’t know how to read or write anymore. I was in the hospital for only almost a month, but about a month after my released I jumped out of a second story window from a Christian women’s home (The Walter Hoving Home in Pasadena, ‘Mom B’ and her husband who started the home still remember me) while kicking heroin and methadone. This time I broke my back. I re-broke it when I was in the county jail and jumped off of the second tier to get sent to the hospital to get drugs. (It worked!) While at the hospital I was told that I had a full blown staph infection from not being ‘sewed up’ properly – the hospital had left a 1 inch by ½ inch hole in the back of my head here the infection entered.
To finally finish this up, I ended up on Skid Row downtown where God spoke to me, “Look around, Laurie – you’re going to die out here anonymously if you don’t turn around and serve Me.” I went home with a ministry from Orange County where I got clean and then went to the LA Dream Center (you may remember them, they helped out some Katrina victims and were on the news and Dr. Phil) where I began reaching out to both prostitute and pimps.
One of the reasons I finally decided to write is because I want to give hope to people who are involved with drugs or prostitution or are suicidal. I have been off of drugs and alcohol for over 5 ½ years now and am reaching out to other people who are living the way I used to when I was on drugs.
I have remarried a wonderful husband who I actually met at a tattoo parlor while ministering to people at tattoo shops on Hollywood boulevard. He gave his life to Jesus, and is now serving God with me. (He also used to use drugs, has been in prison, etc.)
We are starting a non profit ministry to specifically reach out to pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts’ gang members and convicts. I would also like to write a book (but I’m not exactly sure how to go about it) and a friend of mine has been working on an independent film/documentary about some of my experiences and the power of God to change lives.
I am HONORED to share my life with you and with anyone else. You can ask me anything – I am very open about the things I have done, the mistakes I’ve made and the PAIN I went through because of my own foolishness. I feel that if sharing my mistakes will help even just one person, it is all worth it. People, especially young people – who are dabbling with drugs and alcohol, need to see that there are consequences for our actions -not only physical, but spiritual and emotional as well.
People also need to know that there is HOPE. When I was strung out on heroin, I thought that I would never, ever be able to get off of it. Heroin is SO difficult to get off of. I have met numerous heroin addicts, who believe the same thing I used to believe – that I would always be strung out and die a dope fiend, either overdosing or killing myself one day. I want to show people that there is hope! If God could set me free, He can do it for anyone!
God bless you!
Daryl (husband’s cell#) 213-361-0057
749 East 84th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90001