These powerful before-and-after photos show a woman’s transition from addiction to recovery

mother recovery heroin addiction

The INSIDER Summary:

  • Melissa Lee Matos posted on Facebook about her recovery from drug addiction.
  • She shared photos of herself during addiction and after recovery, hoping to inspire other addicts to seek treatment. 
  • The dramatic photos have been shared more than 50,000 times.

A mother from West Virginia shared dramatic before-and-after photos documenting her recovery from drug addiction. Within days, her story had resonated with tens of thousands on Facebook. 

On July 14, Melissa Lee Matos published an intensely personal post on her Facebook page. In it, she explained that she used to be addicted to a drug — though she does not specify which drug exactly — and has now been clean and in recovery for nearly a year and a half.

The post also included a series of harrowing photos that show how addiction affected her body.

“I have NEVER shared these before. I’m not sure I ever intended to,” she wrote of the photos. “This is extremely hard for me in so many ways. However, too many people are dying. I have friends who need to see this.”

“This was what I looked like, daily, for years,” she continued. “This is what my husband dealt with. This is what my little girls walked in on. This is what my family and friends saw, on the rare occasions I left the house. I was SICK. I was DYING. I was so far gone I thought I could NEVER recover. I was so lost I couldn’t imagine a life without using.”

She even went as far as to call the photos “images of a dead girl.”

But Matos also focused on the triumph of her recovery, sharing two dramatic before-and-after collages. In the “before” photos, she’s gaunt, pale, and appears barely conscious, with scabs scattered across her face. But in the “after” photo, she appears to be a healthy weight, with smooth skin and a smile.