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Contest Winner: Iyishia Floyd

My name is Iyishia Floyd and I go to school at Beach Channel High School in Rockaway, New York. I am in the eleventh grade and I heard about your contest from my English teacher. This subject really hits home because my mother is an addict. She was addicted to illegal drugs; not just one, but every one of which you could think.

After my little sister, Sadique, was born, was when my mother's problem began. My father, who is now estranged from us, introduced her to crack cocaine. Then, she went on to other things such as snorting and shooting heroin, smoking marijuana and taking barbiturates and amphetamines, whatever she could get her hands on. I guess the pressure of being a single mother of three girls was just too much for her to handle. At first, her drug use was occasional, but soon became habitual.

When I turned five and my little sister turned two years old, my Mom's use turned into abuse. The first memory that I have of this crisis in my life was that food became scarce and the house became one big mess. After a while, my little sister and I started to raise ourselves because my mother would just lay around the house with her addict friends, and was always too "out of her mind" to help us with even the smallest of requests.

Finally, within the same year, my grandmother came to the rescue and took us all in. Soon after, my little sister and I were receiving proper nutrition and thriving. Then, one day, my grandmother threw us all out. My mother, my sister and I went to a shelter for a few months. Then, we moved to a place called "The Blake Houses," an assigned living facility. We stayed there for a few more months, until October of 1990.

I do not remember the exact date my sister and I received a phone call from my mother, who was calling from a pay station. She called with the pretext of asking us what we wanted from the store. I did not know it then, but this was the last time that I was to speak to my mother for over a year. She simply vanished from our lives. The details are hazy in my memory, since I was only five years old at the time, but the next thing I knew, my sister and I were being transported somewhere in a big black car. We were scared! Luckily, we were taken back to my grandmother's house. We were expecting to see our mother there but instead we were told that she would not be coming back. I felt very lonely and sad. I could not imagine what life would be like without ever being able to see my mother again. From that day on, our life has never been the same. I hope that people around the country who have had similar experiences will read my essay and take heart.

To all the kids out there who live with their grandmothers because of a drug problem in the family, just keep your head up and you will find out that things will work out.

Eight years later, my mother is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary of being drug-free and we now have a very strong mother-daughter relationship. If people believe strongly enough that things will work out, they will. I know, because I have been there.

Allison Inga | Britta Gerdes | Iyishia Floyd | Kelly Rahill | Leeanna Chipana | Manuel Guardado


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