Mum who breastfed daughter while high meets husband at recovery group and transforms her life

Top left; Ashley when she was an addict, bottom left; Ashley and Rylann, middle: Ashley now and right; Ashley and Jack with their baby scan (Picture: MediaDrumWorld)

At her worst, Ashley Doherty was so addicted to drugs she would breastfeed her daughter while high on painkillers and have wild parties while she was in the next room.

Eventually, she went to rehab but found herself slipping into old patterns. She promised her parents she would go to recovery meetings and really make a change.

While there, Ashley, now 29, met Jack, now 35, and as they supported each other through tackling addictions, they fell in love.

Now they are married with a one-year-old son Jackson and Ashley, from Riverside, California, USA, has been clean and sober for over two years.

She said: ‘Our relationship is so loving and so beautiful it’s something I’ve never experienced before. Neither of us could even imagine picking up a drink or drug because we know it would completely ruin every amazing thing we have going for us.

‘I now have a life I would have never imagined I’d ever have. I believed you couldn’t live life without alcohol or drugs.’

Jack and Ashley with their son Jackson and Ashley’s daughter Rylann (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

‘I finally have confidence and I’m finally proud of myself. I’ve never felt so peaceful and so happy in my entire life. It would have never happened if it weren’t for recovery.’

Ashley first tried alcohol for the first time at 13 and she loved how it made her feel.

She explained: ‘My parents split when I was about seven years old and my mum was also in and out of rehab. Assuming those things had taken a toll on me as a little one, I grew increasingly angry and insecure as I got a little older. Alcohol and drugs helped me to numb all of those unwanted feelings and emotions.

‘After that first drink, I couldn’t stop. I drank myself into a blackout that night. The next day I couldn’t wait to do it again. I loved the warm, numb feeling it gave me. And from that moment on it was downhill.

‘Hanging around with older kids I was introduced to a lot of things early on, from huffing “dust off” and NOS, to smoking weed, and doing cocaine and ecstasy. Drinking before school in the parking lot, in class from a water bottle, leaving the school prom early to go drop ecstasy. For some reason, I never saw any of that as a problem.

Ashley at the height of her addiction (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Soon she was chasing that feeling and using weed, cocaine, ecstasy DMT, meth, oxycontin, cough syrup and painkiller pills at parties because she wanted to feel carefree after a difficult childhood.

She became addicted and when she had a car accident in 2011, she was prescribed Norco painkillers, causing her to spiral even further.

At 21, she fell pregnant and decided to give up drugs and alcohol throughout her pregnancy, but after Rylann was born, she was given Norcos for pain and when her prescription ran out, she wanted more.

She said: ‘It was a miracle that I stayed away from alcohol and drugs that entire time. As soon as I gave birth to her and they gave me pain meds, it was back downhill again. I started abusing pills when she was two months old and continued breastfeeding the next year and a half while taking them.

‘All the while her dad was smoking OxyContin and heroin. I was breastfeeding at the time but just told myself I’m only taking a few so it can’t be affecting my daughter through my breastmilk (though I’m sure it was). I felt guilty and felt like a sh*tty mum but of course, I continued to take them.’

Ashley with her daughter Rylann (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Ashley soon fell into a dangerous spiral, doing what she could to take drugs, but she also became good at keeping it from her family. Even though she now had a baby to care for, she would do anything to continue feeding her addiction.

She added: ‘That toxic relationship came to an end pretty quickly. I moved into my grandma’s guest house with my best friend because I couldn’t afford to be on my own especially with my daughter. They made sure I always had a job or was in school.

‘I was a functioning addict, so they had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors. All I was concerned about was going out and getting loaded. Pawning my daughter off on whoever would take her. Paying her dad to take her so that I was free to do what I wanted. He was still using so I knew that if I offered to pay him to take her, he would.

‘If someone couldn’t take her, I would just bring the party to me. My daughter would wake up in the morning to find me still loaded from the night before and random strangers around the house. I thank God to this day that she was too little to remember any of that.’

Ashley has been clean and sober for over two years now (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

Eventually, Ashley was kicked out of school and with no money left, she knew she needed to tell her family how bad her addiction had become.

‘I  knew my dad was going to lose it,’ she said. ‘I had reached my breaking point finally and asked him to get me into treatment.

‘I stayed in treatment for 45 days. I felt like a whole new person. I welcomed the boyfriend I had when I went to treatment back into my life which was my first mistake. He got in my head and I started to believe that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I just went to treatment for pills. I picked up a drink with him, and the rest of the night is a blur. I went on a drinking binge all over again.

Ashley and Jack with their pregnancy scan (Picture: MDWfeatures / @ashleydoherty.recovery)

‘My family threatened to send me back to treatment but I promised I would go to meetings and get a sponsor so I did just that. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, get a sponsor and make friends at meetings.’

There, Ashley met Jack, who had also recently come out of rehab. The couple knew they weren’t meant to date but felt they had an incredible connection.

They slowly built a relationship while supporting each other through recovery and are now both clean and sober.

Ashley talks about her journey on her Instagram page @ashleydoherty.recovery and she wants to help other addicts turn their lives around.

She explained: ‘It feels so good knowing I can possibly help and inspire other addicts like myself. For quite some time I felt like maybe my story leading to recovery wasn’t as crazy as others because I never slammed drugs or ended up in jail etc and so why would people want to hear it. Since I’ve decided to just share it anyway I’ve realised how many people there are that can relate.

‘I’ve had people reach out to me to tell me how I’ve been an inspiration to them and it’s just an indescribable feeling. It just feels great knowing I can offer hope to others and show that it is so possible if you want it.’

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