RICHMOND, Va. -- Honesty Liller knows her life story has helped other people, but she never imagined it would become a best-selling book.
“I call myself a real model, not a role model,” Liller says.
“Scattered Pink, A Diary of a Woman in Recovery,” tells the story of Liller’s 14-year battle with opiate addiction. It's a journey that Liller began when she was just 12 years old and started smoking marijuana to fit in with her peers. By 15 years of age, she was drinking, using LSD and cocaine.
“And then at 17, I found heroin,” Liller says.
“Back then, all those years ago, I didn’t even know what fentanyl was. It was unheard of for users like me. We were just going to get heroin so we wouldn’t get dope sick.”
Thrust into a world of drugs and depression, Liller didn’t see hope in her life until she gave birth to her daughter at the age of 21. Even then, Liller says climbing the steep hill to recovery was extremely difficult with many relapses.
“The stuff I went through was hard and traumatic, but the stuff I put my daughter through was another whole level,” Liller says. “I couldn’t be the mom she deserved.”
By the time Liller turned 26, she and her husband, who she met in recovery, began living clean and sober lives. Today, Liller is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and CEO of the McShin Foundation in Henrico County. She’s been featured on Fox News, PBS and CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“It was definitely traumatic writing the book. There was a lot of stuff in the book that I thought I had already worked through in my recovery process,” Liller says. “There was a lot of trauma that happened throughout my life, but it was also a beautiful experience. I cried a lot. I got angry some. There’s a lot of emotions, to be honest, in writing your story.”
Liller says she wanted her book to be authentic and to resonate with other addicts and families who are struggling with addiction.
According to the latest CDC data, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses between May 2020 and April 2021. The unprecedented data also indicates that most of the deaths were caused by opioids, fueled by the powerful drug fentanyl.
Ellen and Michael Long of Henrico County credit peer-to-peer counseling for helping both of their children, who are now in recovery from addiction.
“They are just really good advocates because they’ve walked the walk and they know,” Michael Long says.
Ellen Long says she got emotional reading Liller’s story and credits her with helping educate families about the disease of addiction, so they can respond with love and healthy boundaries.
“The book is amazing and she’s amazing,” Long says. “Just seeing her gifts unfold, seeing what she’s contributing to our community, and you know, the power of how she’s done all the hard work to really pull herself through to the other side.”
The Long’s daughter, Holly, says she fears for young people as heroin and other drugs, laced with fentanyl, have claimed thousands of lives, preventing several from ever getting the help they need.
“That’s what terrifies me right now for people going into adulthood, it’s reached our community. You might think that’s so far away when you’re a young child or going through high school and you see everybody drinking and smoking weed, but heroin is insidious and it will reach everybody eventually,” Long says.
Liller says she hopes that people battling addiction will reach out for support and treatment. She believes her story is proof that surviving addiction is possible.
“I believe that we’re hope dealers,” Liller says. “People are passing away and family members need answers and the humans who are addicted need answers.”
Liller will be speaking and signing copies of her book on March 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the McShin Foundation as part of CARE TALKS, celebrating women’s history month. The in-person event will be at 2300 Dumbarton Road in Richmond. To watch live, visit the CARE Talks and the McShin Facebook pages.