What Addiction Recovery Really Looks Like (NSFW)

On Friday, Melissa Lee Matos shared graphic photos on Facebook that she wasn't sure she'd ever let anyone see. Matos wrote that the photos, which showed what she looked like at the height of her struggle with drug addiction, are "the most raw thing I have shared with the world," and she's posting them in order to help those who may currently be in the grips of addiction.
"This is extremely hard for me in so many ways," she wrote. "However, too many people are dying. I have friends who need to see this."
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Matos shared photos of herself that she called "extremely disturbing images of me while in active addiction.'
"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."
Matos wrote that at the time, she was so far gone that she thought she could never recover, and couldn't imagine a life in which she wasn't using drugs. Now sober, Matos is issuing a plea to others currently working through addiction.
"If you are currently in active addiction, this is my plea to you," she wrote. "Look at these pictures. 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."
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Since she posted her photos on Facebook on Friday, they have been shared over 49,000 times at the time of writing.
Matos ended her plea by sharing her email and phone number so that anyone who wanted help or advice could reach out to her directly.
"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," she wrote. "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."
Refinery29 has reached out to Matos for comment, and will update this piece if we receive a response.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.
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