In the 1990’s, the fashion and modeling industry birthed a new look: heroin chic, featuring models so thin that it looked like they were abusing opioids. Today, a heroin and opioid epidemic is plaguing the nation, and Infinite Recovery wants to recognize the models who are making sobriety more chic than that 90’s look. Alexa shares her story as our first installment of Ex-Heroin Chic.
Alexa makes it clear that the modeling industry was not to blame for her drug addiction and alcoholism, it was actually her addiction that led her into the field. “I was 18 years old and had just started college. I started partying, drinking and doing tons of cocaine, and essentially stopped going to class. Soon I became bored with school and went to the Donna Baldwin Modeling Agency in Denver. It turns out my emaciated measurements were exactly what they were looking for to fit the samples sizes.”
Her modeling career took off instantly. Alexa flew to New York, where she signed with Race Modeling Agency, a division of the prestigious Karin Models that represented Cindy Crawford and Monica Belluci. She booked a $50,000 job on her second day in the city, but partied too hard the night before and missed the call time. Somehow, she bounced back and was awarded jobs in Paris working commercial print for Cosmopolitan, Esprit Femme, and multiple French publications.
Alexa traveled internationally, turning down jobs in Germany but accepting opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. She found herself ready to leave as her addiction progressed, finding methamphetamine overseas. She lost her motivation to work, purposefully missing jobs and eventually returned to the States.
Alexa returned to Denver in 2009 and began experimenting with opioids – starting with OxyContin.
Months later, Alexa moved to Miami to work for Wilhelmina Models. Alexa found the fast-paced partying lifestyle too tempting to resist. “I knew I shouldn’t recklessly pass up or take advantage of these amazing opportunities put in front of me, but the Miami scene was too enticing.”
She was told by her manager that she, “didn’t want another dead model,” so she was no longer allowed to stay in Miami, despite the agency requesting she continue working for Wilhelmina.
Alexa then moved across the country to Los Angeles, where she lost her interest in modeling all together and enrolled in a six-week acting course where she’d be casting in front of multiple high-profile talent agencies. She found herself unable to make it to her acting classes and, when she did arrive, she was usually feeling the effects of the debauchery from the night before. “At the final performance, in front of these Hollywood power players, I showed up unprepared and flippant. I blew my opportunity.” Alexa decided to move in with her boyfriend at the time, who was doing well with his catering business, but finding even more success selling drugs.
She convinced her boyfriend to begin stocking up on OxyContin, taking upwards of 8 80 mg pills a day just to function. When the FDA changed the formula of OxyContin to prevent abuse, Alexa did what most opioid addicts found themselves doing – they switched to the cheaper, more potent option: heroin. Her heroin problem continued to escalate for years until her mother found her detoxing on a family trip.
Alexa tried detoxing with her godmother in Atlanta, thinking a geographic change might be just what she needed. She soon found she couldn’t stop using unassisted. The craving and obsession overwhelmed her, and she ran off in the night with a new boy that used like she did. She wire-transferred herself a sizable pile of cash, unannounced to her mother, and found herself in The Bluffs of Atlanta.
After her life began to crumble around her, she again thought moving would fix the problem. She uprooted her life and came back to Denver in an attempt to kick the heroin and cocaine. Within a week, Alexa succumbed to her addiction and was hooked on the dope again.
Within six months of returning to Denver, Alexa was arrested five times, found herself homeless, had no car, no phone, no resources, became a slave to the syringe, and was completely cut off from her family.
After her last arrest and the tragic murder of her best friend, who had never used drugs, Alexa had a moment of clarity. She finally realized that she had every opportunity and had let it slip while her best friend, who was never a drug user, had her life viciously taken from her. Alexa found a treatment center in Texas and finally began her journey of recovery.
Today, Alexa is a functioning member of society. But more importantly, she enjoys her life and has found meaning and purpose. She celebrated four years of sobriety on October 26th, 2016.
“I think the most pivotal point in my addiction and recovery was when I became honest with myself that I was a heroin addict and I was going to die unless I did something different. That’s when I was able to begin seeing this as an opportunity to take and not let this one slip by. I’m so grateful to have finally found this way of life and I hope others struggling will hear this and see they can stop the suffering when they’re ready.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin or prescription drugs, they can find the same freedom Alexa has. Call the team at Infinite Recovery at (844) 206–9063 or apply online today.