A mother’s bid to help others struggling with addiction has gone viral, after she shared harrowing before and after photos on her Facebook page urging others to seek help. Melissa Lee Matos, of West Virginia, wrote in an accompanying post that she had never intended to share the photos, but felt moved to because of friends who she felt needed to see it.
“It goes beyond what my words can accomplish,” Matos wrote in the July 14 post. “This is by far, the most raw thing I have shared with the world. Please read. Please share.”
Matos revealed that she has been in recovery for nearly a year and a half, but the period of her life before then was riddled with nights of overdoses and spending every cent she had on drugs to get high.
“This is what I looked like, daily, for years,” she wrote, alongside photos of her with a scabbed face. “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. I was SICK. I was DYING. I was so far gone I thought I could NEVER recover. I was so lost I couldn’t imagine a life without using. I just wanted to die. I didn’t realize I was hardly alive.”
While the post does not reveal what moved her to seek help for her addiction, her Facebook page lists freelance writer and social advocate at RecoverMe as her occupation. Near the end of her post, which has been shared almost 50,000 times, Matos lists her number and email address for others who need help.
“If you are currently in active addiction, this is my plea to you. 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,” Matos wrote. “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.”
More than 14,500 people commented on her photos, with many thanking her for her courage to speak out on addiction and her struggles with it. In a follow up post, Matos expressed gratitude for the amount of people who have reached out and thanked her for sharing the photos.
“I did this in the hopes of even getting one person to reach out, and the fact that hundreds of you have trusted me and my story enough to message me fills me with more hope and love than I can explain,” she wrote. “Thank you for letting me share my story. I love you all. We can do this together! Never lose hope!!”
The overdose death rate in West Virginia outpaces other states in the country, with a Feb. 13 analysis revealing at least 818 people in the state died of drug overdoses in 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate was about 41.5 cases per 100,000 in 2015. The next highest states were New Hampshire and Kentucky. Overall, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in the United States in 2015.