SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s a day full of bonding for Lakeisha Wilhelm and her youngest son Cassius.

“Are you excited to eat ice cream and tacos?” Wilhelm asked her son. Later, she spots some birthday cake for Cassius.

Spending time with her kids is something Wilhelm cherishes, especially considering where she was over a decade ago, when she was perilously close to losing her children.

“I was playing Russian roulette with my life and at that time I’d already had two kids,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm’s story of how her addiction started is a tale likely to similar to many others, as her problems started with medication prescribed to treat an injured tailbone and sciatica aggravated by pregnancy.

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“I was in pain and the doctor started prescribing me hydrocodone, Percocet, whatever while I was pregnant,” she said.

The pills prescribed to help her deal with this pain would eventually cause an even worse amount of suffering, as she would go on to have an opioid addiction. Her dependence on these painkillers would lead her to turn to heroin, which was much more accessible.

Wilhelm said she shouldn’t be alive right now with what she had to go through, and discovered when she tried to quit that her withdrawal would come with unprecedented levels of misery.

“You just feel like dying would feel better than this,” Wilhelm said. “It feels like your bones are breaking.”

Those days are now 10 years behind her, as Wilhelm now uses methadone daily to keep her addiction in check. She credits methadone with helping her reach 10 years of sobriety.

The drug doesn’t give her a high, but instead acts more like a therapy.

“I take my dose and it makes me feel normal,” she said. “For me, normal is being able to take care of my kids, cook dinner, clean, go to my appointments, have mental health care and be a part of the recovery community.”

While she hopes that her days of taking methadone to keep her addiction at bay are limited, she has accepted that it may be a “forever thing,” because to her, the alternative isn’t even a choice.

“Relapse is not an option for me. If I were to relapse, I would lose everything and I know that,” Wilhelm said.

While she knows the road ahead of her isn’t going to be easy, she is confident she will be able to stay away from the addiction that almost derailed her life.

“I am so pumped for what is to come,” she said.

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