A recovering addict who went to her first AA meeting aged nine says she tried every drug on the market by the time she was 13.
Ashley Carter Cash, 38, had a mum who was dependent on crack cocaine and an alcoholic dad.
Her parents divorced when she was 12 and afterwards she lived with her mum.
READ MORE: Mum whose booze addiction turned eyes yellow unrecognisable after going sober
A young Ashley hoped to save her “from the demons that drove her to drugs” but unfortunately she “fell into the trap of substance abuse right along with her”.
She became reliant on substances for the next two decades and after becoming a mum herself would hide in a closet to down booze.
But Ashley is now sober and shared her extraordinary journey with Daily Star.
She told us: “Looking back on those photos I feel shame, guilt and regret wash over me when I view the visceral memories of my drinking and drugging days.
“I can’t help but feel sad and remorseful whenever I see the potential in my young eyes in the glimpse of a decades old photograph.
“But then, I had everything going for me, and although today I can see my life is not over and there is much to come, I can’t help but regret extinguishing the flame of so much young beauty far too soon.”
As for how it all started, she added: “When I was nine I attended my first 12-step meeting.
“Before and after that, my parents battled an addiction to alcohol and drugs for as long as I can remember.
“And after swearing I would never fall victim to such a crippling disease based on what I’d seen it do to my family – my experiences with controlled substances began when I was 12.”
Although she was just a child, she turned to mind-altering substances like MDMA to escape the reality of the brutal struggles her parents faced.
But her drinking and drug habits continued for years to come – despite Ashley knowing she was “dying a slow and painful death”.
Ashely, who is now a writer based in New York, US, flunked out of education aged 14 to be “homeschooled” by her mum.
As you can guess, no learning was done and Ashley found herself alone as her mum was jailed following her 16th birthday.
She told us: “I started small with alcohol to be honest. But, by a decade in, I was drinking whatever I could get my hands on.
“By the time I was 25 I was scouting for discarded glasses at last call.
“By 35, I didn't require a bar, there was no more social drinking. I'd become a mum and was now drinking in my closet.”
Ashley said on the outside she performed reasonably well while intoxicated throughout her 20s and worked as a fashion model.
But by the time she was 28 she was sleeping rough out of a storage closet in Hell's Kitchen.
And soon the perils of alcohol started to show on her body.
She remembered: “I began noticing the yellowing skin, immemorable bruising to my legs, knees and arms, as well as the lacerations that seemed to cover my body.
“I still believed I was controlling my drinking. Night after night, I blacked out and hurt myself.
“I still have tremors in my hands. I am afraid my limbic nervous system is forever destroyed.”
Amber acknowledged she relapsed more times than her years on Earth and has had many falls from grace.
But she is now finally in a place where her addiction has been under control since last year.
She bravely shared her experiences on social media and her memoir, Ballad of a Sick Girl, is being published later this month.
Ashley said opening up about her experiences online to help others was the only way for her to stay sober.
But although she still misses the bottle, she claimed life is so much better now.
“The morning, oh my gosh, the mornings have never felt better,” she said.
“The ability to make a conscious decision based on my inner values rather than based on a clouded mindset is genuinely priceless.
“Money cannot buy the element of knowing you are in control of your destiny instead of relying on a substance to do it for you.”
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