By: Alyssa Birkholz, Maranda Meisenzahl and Melody Ascione
Red solo cups filled with beer. People dancing to the beat of the latest hit song. The lingering smell of marijuana. This is the scene at a typical college party. Although what is typical for many can become life-altering and even life-ending for others.
Krista Lattuca knows how life-altering partying can be. At 24, Lattuca became a full-blown heroin addict and overdosed on the streets of Rochester. After the cycle of overdosing and relapsing, Lattuca finally was able to turn her life around and get help. She is currently four years sober and has a stable job as a Recovery Coach in the Chemical Dependency Unit at Unity Hospital. Lattuca says as odd as it sounds, drugs were a gateway to a better life.
“If I was never a heroin addict, I wouldn’t have a career path and a passion and a fire for what I do for these girls. I wouldn’t have gotten my life today,” said Lattuca. “Being and going as far as I did in my addiction saved my life because it’s somewhere I never wanna be again. I use my story to help other women and men in recovery. It’s affected me in a profound way.”
Today she has custody of her 9-year-old son and one-year-old who has never her drunk or high. She explains that she’s the best version of herself because of what she went through.
Lattuca started drinking and smoking marijuana in her adolescence. When she was in her 20’s she began using opioids and heroin which resulted in serious consequences. Lattuca is a violent felon and had her son taken away from her, which was a huge consequence and hard to handle.
She admits she hit rock bottom when she was homeless prostituting and selling her belongings to get high.
“I had burned most of my bridges. My mom said stop just be a good kid. She tried to support me when I started the opioids, but I stole from her. I had burned all of my bridges.” Lattuca said.
Joanne Thomas, an RN at Strong West Hospital explains that people who come into the hospital experiencing an overdose usually have a history of abuse and may have a criminal record along with no support system.
“Drugs are more lethal. We’ve pulled people out of the car, we’ve had to administer several doses of Narcan, that happens often enough here. Everybody has luckily come around with Narcan. But, these people are near death, they would die if we did not help them. My job here is to save people, and do what’s best for the patient, so I will do whatever I need to do to help that patient.” Thomas said.
Alcohol is a big issue on the college campus, mostly underage drinking. Opioids are a rising issue. Lt. Michael Johnson of the University Police on campus recognizes this.
“We have been told from the counseling center that there are students who are addicted to heroin, so any day you can have an overdose.” Lt. Johnson said.
College students are susceptible to peer pressure, especially when engaging in the party scene. Excessive alcohol consumption can open doors to many dangerous lifestyles.
“Everybody equates fun to going to a party and drinking and playing beer pong. You’ve gotta grow up at some point. God ripped me apart and put me back together to who I am today, to be able to share with you guys.” Lattuca said.
People stumbling back into their dorms. Empty bottles on the sidewalk. Police officers making their way to the house party. This is the aftermath of a typical college weekend. A fun weekend involving drugs and alcohol can alter the lives of many.
Lattuca went through seven different rehabs before getting sober but has enough resources and guidance today to be able to help others and find them a rehab that will work for them.
After multiple attempts of treatment, relapsing, rehabs, jail and losing support, Lattuca has her life exactly where she wants it. Lattuca explains that without drugs, she would not be where she is today and she owes everything to being an addict. She now has a passion and is able to help people, based on her own experiences.
“I learned all this stuff and I can give back and show them. I’m the best version of me because of what I went through.” Lattuca stated.
Lattuca experienced a lot during her years of drug use but is grateful for everything she has now. She admits that she filed for bankruptcy at one point, but now has good credit, and is recently married. After successfully getting sober, Lattuca had a new outlook on life with a passion to help other people get to where she is now; successful, married with two kids and clean.