“I Died More Than Once”—Addict Shares ‘Raw’ Before & After Photos to Put an End to the Epidemic

“This was what I looked like, daily, for years. This is what my husband dealt with. This is what my little girls walked in on.”

WARNING: Some may find the following images graphic or triggering.


Melissa Lee Matos was heavily addicted to drugs for years before going through recovery and getting clean. She’s a wife, mother and friend, but the only memories she has from her “junkie” days are graphic photos she swore she’d never share.

But this week, Melissa felt differently. She says too many people are dying, and though the photos of her past are difficult to look at—much less share—she says she knows people need to see them.

They go “beyond what my words can accomplish,” she says, and the photos are about as “raw” as you can get.

“My name is Melissa, and I’m an addict,” she writes.

Melissa Lee Matos

“I have been clean and in recovery for just about a year and five months. Below, you will find extremely disturbing images of me while in active addiction.”

Melissa Lee Matos

“This was what I looked like, daily, for years. 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.”

Melissa says she hopes that sharing these images will help others identify and combat addiction, to ultimately save someone’s life.

“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. 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.”

Melissa Lee Matos

And for those reading her post and struggling with the same demons, Melissa wants people to know they are not alone, and there IS hope.

“If you are reading this and are going through the same pain I did, I am begging you to reach out. I died more than once. I have now found life. I promise you, there is HOPE. There is recovery. There is freedom and serenity and you are worthy of it.

Please, please reach out. You do not have to suffer any longer. You are not alone. Just reach out your hand, I’m right here.”

She closes her post by reiterating that her past does not define her. Once a junkie and an addict, Melissa is now clean, healthy and living a life she never thought she could live.

“My name is Melissa. I am a RECOVERED addict.”

Melissa Lee Matos

After a year and a half of recovery, Melissa hopes her raw and honest post will inspire others to seek treatment.


If you or someone you know needs help with drug addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.

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