Inspired by memory of her husband who overdosed, woman overcomes heroin addiction

Inspired by memory of her husband who overdosed, woman overcomes heroin addiction

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There is no shortage of overdose stories in our area.

Yvette Barbour could have been one of those stories. Her husband, Michael Barbour, is. He lost his battle with heroin addiction three months ago.

Yvette's story, on the other hand, is one of triumph, but is deeply rooted in struggle that began long before she met her husband.

"Crack cocaine was my choice of drug. It took everything from me," Barbour says.

Because of her drug use, the Department of Social Services took custody of all but one of her six children. Two of her boys were adopted at a young age, and she has not seen them since. Her sister cares for the rest of the children..

Barbour says she tried everything to get clean sooner, but at that point in her life, nothing worked.

"I was to the point where I almost died. They airlifted me and my mother was to the point where she was like, 'You're going to die on me one day,'" Barbour said. "She literally had to bathe me for like two weeks because I could not move out of a bed. We thought maybe that would change me.

"I got clean for a year maybe and then I relapsed."

After meeting her husband, Barbour began using heroin.

"It was just the worst two years," she said. "It took everything from me in two years."

The threat of losing their child — the only one in Barbour's custody — is what finally helped her get and stay clean.

"My son Michael is four and a half years old now and was taken into custody when he was maybe four months," she said. "My in-laws came in and said, 'We'll take him, but you have a year to get him back. If you don't, we're going to give him to the system because we can't do it.'"

Barbour got clean in part by using a methadone clinic in Florida, where she was living at the time.

"I tested dirty the first time I went into the clinic," Barbour said. "That was my first and last positive drug screen. From day one that I walked into that clinic, I was determined to get my life together because I did not want to lose my son. I had already lost five of them to the system."

After a move to North Carolina, Barbour found Coastal Horizons Center in Wilmington, where she has found the best support system she has ever had.

"When you're determined, you're determined," Barbour said. "You're done. It took my son to make my recovery. God placed him in my life for a reason because he knew that little boy would change my life forever."

With the help of the clinics, Barbour has been sober for four and a half years. During that time, she was able to care for her husband while he was still using.

"He was there in the house living with me and I watched him use every day," Barbour said. "It was hard because, when you love someone, you don't want to let that person go and I did everything to try to get him clean. I brought him the papers home from the clinic.".

Despite her efforts, Michael was never able to get clean.

One day, she sent him a text telling him that if he didn't get off heroin, she feared she would find him dead.

The next day, that fear became reality. Barbour found Michael in their living room dead of an overdose.

Barbour's faith has actually gotten stronger since her husband died.

"(God) assures me everyday that my husband is not suffering. He's not chasing (a high)," Barbour said. "My husband would cry because he didn't want to be that person anymore."

She now tries to keep his memory alive every day for their son. Despite his addiction, Michael was always a good father to Michael Jr., according to Barbour.

"I say, 'When you're having a bad day and you feel you can't speak to mommy, you can always talk to your daddy. He's always listening,'" Barbour said.

Guided by faith, motivated by her son, and supported by the Coastal Horizons Center, Barbour hopes her story may inspire others who are struggling with addition.

"You are broken and God loves broken people," she said. "He will deliver you. If he did it for me, trust me, he'll do it for anyone out there. You just have to want it."

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