Valerie Arens, a registered nurse, lived a secret life! The Sioux Falls woman was caring for patients. But, outside the hospital---Valerie was getting high by ingesting pain killers.. Valerie’s drug of choice: opioids.

Prior to using opioids, Valerie was going though a divorce and was down on life! She sought relief and it came in the form of medications that relieve pain.

“I think back on some of the things I’ve done. My brain goes ‘I can’t believe you did that.’ I was convinced I was hiding the addiction pretty well. But, in reality I wasn’t. It was quite obvious to people around me. Now, when I look back, I realize it was damaging my life.”

Valerie, a nurse with Avera Health, would do just about anything to get the drug!

“I was making poor decisions and doing things nobody with any common sense would have done normally, including stealing from my parents. They had pain medications in their home from various procedures. I would take the pills out of their medicine cabinet. I would also trade anti-anxiety medications for opioids. I was doing things that were not only illegal and unethical---but was ruining the trust of people around me.”

So, why was Valerie drawn to opioids?

“It gives you a euphoric feeling. There is not much difference from prescription pain medications and heroin. I was awake, alert and ready to go.”

But, the addiction had consequences, including the loss of Valerie’s job.

“I hit my rock bottom when my employer confronted me about my behavior and poor job performance. Yet when I was fired from work. I really felt relieved as if I needed this to happen. It’s almost as if the addiction was almost over now.”

From then on Valerie sought help and got it!

“My house was not built on a stable foundation from the start. Now, I get to scrap all that and start over. At this point, I realized I could rebuild my foundation."

That’s just what Valerie Arens, now back at working as a nurse, is doing every minute of every day!

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