Violet Golembiewski wants to offer a shelter where men and women can bring their children and seek substance abuse treatment.
The former Norwalk resident, who recently was convicted of trafficking in heroin near a school, said she wants to help other drug addicts recover. She lived in Norwalk when she attended Norwalk High School her sophomore and junior years. As a freshman, she attended Western Reserve.
“I need to help people get themselves out of that,” Golembiewski said. “I plan to get my peer support certification. … Long term I really want to open up my own shelter.”
Golembiewski said she’s been able to maintain her sobriety because she has “a really awesome support system.”
“I started using in February of 2015 and my addiction went all the way up to Oct. 28, 2017,” she added.
Golembiewski, of Lorain, said she “was clean for 11 months” when she was arrested Sept. 16, 2018. She was charged with trafficking in heroin in a school zone with a juvenile present in connection with a series of controlled drug buys from early October 2017.
“It wasn’t a lot of drugs. The total amount bought in that three-day process was under a gram. At that point in time I was basically selling drugs to support my high,” Golembiewski said. “Most of the drugs ended up going up my nose and then the money that I got from selling the drugs went right back in the dope dealer’s pocket to get my drugs again.”
Authorities issued an indictment in August 2018.
Now on three years of probation through Huron County Common Pleas Court, Golembiewski contacted the Reflector before her Feb. 6 sentencing hearing with an interest in sharing her story.
Her boyfriend at the time told her he abused Percocet, which Golembiewski had been prescribed after the C-section to have her son. During a conversation with a friend, she said learned the man didn’t sell Percocet and had been giving her “straight heroin.”
“There was no Percocet whatsoever. He was telling me it was Percocet and giving me heroin,” Golembiewski said. “I never expected that because you wouldn’t think that someone who supposedly cares about you that would be doing that.”
Regardless of the circumstances, the 23-year-old mother said abusing heroin was “still my own fault because I made the choice to get high — even though it wasn’t the substance I thought it was going to be.”
Golembiewski had been using heroin two to three times each day.
“I was using all day, every day,” she said.
After learning she was abusing heroin instead of Percocet, Golembiewski said she did a line of Percocet because she would recognize “the back drip taste.” Afterward, she confronted her then-boyfriend about giving her heroin.
“He was like, ‘Well, I didn’t think it would get to this point and stuff like that,’” Golembiewski said. “I was like, ‘This is just done. … I’m not touching it anymore.’ Two or three days into it, I didn’t realize I was going into withdrawal.”
Eventually she weaned her heroin usage down to a half-gram each day. In September 2017, Golembiewski said she confronted her “childhood rapist,” then went on “a hard-core binge” doing about a gram of heroin daily and “then something just hit me.”
“I was broke; I didn’t have money to get drugs. I was having to hook up with my dope dealer to get drugs at this point,” she added. “I didn’t want that to be my life any more.”
Golembiewski described this time in her life as a dark tunnel, but without any light at the end. She went to Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services with the intention to obtain Suboxone. Officials told her to attempt to stay clean over the weekend because it would be two weeks until any Suboxone would be available. The plan was to place her in intensive out-patient treatment.
“I didn’t make it through the weekend and I was embarrassed to go back on Monday. … I felt like a disappointment,” said Golembiewski, who ended up having a kidney infection several days later, which sent her to the emergency room.
Eventually she went to Lorain to find drugs. Golembiewski tracked down a mutual friend at his residence and told him a lie about being told she could come to him if she ever needed anything.
“It was enough to get the deal done,” she said, noting she did all the drugs at once.
Due to the kidney infection, Golembiewski said she didn’t feel any better and started crotcheting a “sobriety blanket.”
Originally she was pursuing a nursing degree at Lorain County Community College to become a licensed practical nurse. She has changed her major to earn a bachelor’s in social work.
“I looked at this court case as a sign … from the powers that be that this is way I’m supposed to go. I started doing peer support services up at the FI Community Housing … and I started seeing what they did and I started being more open to the recovery community,” said Golembiewski, who wasn’t involved earlier due to working about 60 hours a week.
Golembiewski said her court case opened her eyes “at how bad I was doing.”
“In my discovery, they had a photo of me. … The man that I was selling the drugs to, I actually did a line with him right after that photo was taken,” she added. “That was the reality check; that was me at my lowest of lows. I was in the middle of selling drugs; I was strung out myself.”
Throughout her recovery from heroin addiction, Golembiewski has referred friends to a recovery advocate.
“I love seeing people get their life on track,” she said. “I was always scared to take that step because I didn’t know if it was something I’d be able to do — and this court case showed me I could do it.”