Virginia 'Ginny' Burton has battled her way back from the brink and has now made a success of herself after some seriously dark times.
The 48-year-old was first introduced to drugs when she was given cannabis as a six-year-old, and by 23 she was addicted to heroin, she told local news outlet KOMO-TV.
Having battled against homelessness and spent some time in prison, as well as dealing with her addiction problems, she took the decision to sort herself out and graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle yesterday after attaining a degree in Political Science.
Recently, she shared two photographs of herself on Facebook. One showed her at the height of her addiction, and the other showed her wearing a university cap and gown.
She wrote: "How about that for motivation?"
Her post continued: "I would've never in a million years thought my life would look the way it does today.
"Stop selling yourself short. You don't know what tomorrow might bring so you might consider starting today."
Ginny, a mother of three, started the university course back in 2017, and has used it as a way of getting herself back onto the right track.
In another post, she shared her desire to encourage others to take the same steps as she has, writing: "There is hope."
She added: "No one is disposable. You don't have to die in addiction. You can stop using, lose the desire, and find a new way to live. There are so many of us out here willing to help."
Ginny explained how her journey had been 'not graceful' but 'beautiful' and - at the same time - tremendously painful.
"I do not have family that swooped me up, I do not come from money," she said.
"I grew up in poverty and my parents both died from health problems associated with lifestyle choices.
"Most of the siblings I am in contact with are fighting for their own survival, in their own way.
"It was a sink or swim situation for me after a number of incarcerations when it came to changing my life.
"There are many of us out here that want to provide a hand up."
Wise words, and worth listening to.
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