jasper kay photography

Stephanie Spühler | Recovery Advocate | Heroin Addiction | Albuquerque, NM

First and foremost,

I want to thank Stephanie for letting me document her story and allowing me to share her extraordinary journey with you. Thank you all for taking the time to read the message Stephanie is sending out. There is no doubt in my mind that Stephanie's message will truly help the lives of those dealing with addiction and touch the hearts of many. 

Stephanie Spühler is hero and an inspiration.

She is a dreamer, a writer, a recovery advocate, and a loving soul. 

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. " - drugabuse.gov


Life is so simple, you know? All I need is my car, my music, my money, and my heroin. 

I wake up every day with the same routine:

-Get enough money to buy a gram of black (Duration Time: 4+ Hours).

    -Pawn my ipod, laptop, computer, and/or phone.

    -Withdraw money that charges from my bank account.

    -Steal from Walmart.

    -Steal from parents. 

    -Sell my plasma on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

-Call my drug dealer and go meet him where he needs me to go (Duration Time: 1 Hour (hopefully)).

-Shoot up either thirty to sixty dollars’ worth of the blackest heroin into my little veins (Duration Time: 1 Second). 

-Feel the rush of endorphins blow up in my brain, let my body sink into the seat of my car, close my eyes, and nod out. My heart beats slowly pounding to every other minute on the clock and I can’t feel anything-no pain, nothing but happiness that I’m numb to the world for the next hour or so.

    All that work was worth this one rush and worth calmness for a short period of time.

            I can’t wait for the next moment to feel this.

I kept that little lie going for five years, repeating that routine twice a day, every day.  I still went to school every day getting A’s and B’s in all of my Middle School Teaching Classes. I kept my job serving the whole time-never was late or had any conflicts there. I still lived at home so I put on a great show for my parents  that I was getting things done and had no problems paying my own bills. I even would lie to myself, “Stephanie, you can live this way forever. You’re not like the rest of these ‘druggies’, you’re functional.”

        You see, life’s so simple-until it’s not so simple anymore.

After a while my veins started to collapse from injecting, my weight dropped almost fifteen pounds (mostly muscle from when I used to play soccer), dark bags started forming under my hallow eyes, anxiety and stress started to take over my spirit, I never had money to do anything with my friends so I’d have to make up lies to stay in, I’d never be home to spend time with my family because I’d be out all day trying to find dope to stop these killer withdrawals I was having.  

Oh, the withdrawals!

Let me tell you something my friend, I wouldn’t even wish them on my worst enemy-nobody should feel this pain EVER. If the body doesn’t get what it is now dependent on, it creates flu-like symptoms (only more painful and with constant anxiety): you’re intestines pinch together, you have cold sweats constantly, you can’t sit still for a second because you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, your nose starts to run like a leaky faucet, you start getting tremors on your skin, yawning uncontrollably, vomiting what little you have in your system (mostly bile) a constant rapid heartbeat, and all that you can think about  is if you don’t find some heroin quick, you’d rather die than feel this intense pain.

Feeling these withdraws made me use more and more heroin which, in turn, actually made withdrawals more severe and they hit my body faster because my tolerance was so high. Mind you, heroin is almost ten times stronger than morphine-you know, the stuff professional doctors give their patients for pain and here I am blasting it into my veins twice a day.

This whole damn thing is a lose-lose situation because you can die from a heroin overdose and you can die from withdrawals if they are bad enough on the body.

So, is it worth it?

The monster that I became would have said yes. The ‘druggie’ I became would have said screw everything in this life heroin is the only thing to keep you happy.

However, I’m too emotional to not care for my family and friends. I saw how my actions were killing them just as much as it was killing me. I wasn’t actually happy-I was tired, drained, broke, skinny, starving for nutrients, weak, depressed, angry, ashamed.

I had to stop, I wanted to stop.

So I did.

Not with the snap of my  fingers or anything like that because I’m still working on myself and I’m still having to deny myself every second of everyday-but it gets easier. I have some relief as each day passes and I can look up at the blue sky and thank God for reviving my heart when I passed out in my car.

I thank God for leaving my brain unharmed by the abuse I put it through,  I thank God I didn’t contract any diseases,

I thank God for giving me chance after chance to get my life together.

Without His grace and unconditional love for me I should be dead right now. I should have gotten what I deserved for lying, cheating, and stealing; but that’s not the God that I know.

He gave me life and purpose for each day.

Sure I may mess up still and that’s okay but as long as I’m honest with myself, you know? I’m not perfect, but I’m not meant to die in my car, I’m not meant to wither away just because I don’t think peace and joy was meant for somebody like me-because it  is.

It’s meant for all of us, you know?

Life really can be simple if you let it be. You don’t need to hunt and work for something or someone to make you feel happy and whole, my friends. Happiness is opening your eyes in the morning and realizing you’ve been breathing soundly all through the night. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing how beautifully you were created. It is seeing your family laugh because they are happy. Happiness is what you naturally feel just because you are alive. 

Now I’m crying.

Because I feel happy.

Because it’s just that simple.

| Erica + RD Newman | Rustic New Mexican Wedding | Valdez, NM |

A little rain did not stop all the love at Erica + RD's wedding. In the sweet valley of Valdez, NM was the perfect location for Erica and RD to say "I do" and begin their journey as husband and wife. Every detail of their special day was so intricately thought out and could not be more perfect.

The day started out with lots of sunshine, laughs amongst their wedding party and families, and tons of love. The girls enjoyed getting dolled up while the guys had a blast roping! I have never seen a groom look at his beloved bride walking down the aisle with such amazement, love, and teary-eyed emotion. Watching them exchange their rings and vows along with their first kiss as husband and wife was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen. After the ceremony at Holy Trinity Parish, we all headed over to Valdez to get the party started. The atmosphere was incredible. Everybody was smiling, laughing, dancing, and just enjoying the company of one another. Erica and RD's flower girl and niece, Brooke, even dedicated "I See the Light" from the movie Tangled to them before they did the bouquet and garter toss. I was bawling my eyes out behind the camera at each of their special moments. Of course, there was so much more fun and memorable moments throughout the evening. 

Let me back track and tell you all a little more about the newlyweds. Erica and RD met in college in Las Cruces, NM while attending NMSU. Erica said, "RD ran into me my first day down for freshman year and had offered to help me with anything I needed. We started hanging out after that!" The beautiful pasture in which they exchanged their most heartfelt and beautiful vows is also where RD proposed to Erica. The venue belongs to Erica's family and has generations of memories and tradition. Erica and RD think it is the most beautiful place in the entire world. They are very proud of Valdez, NM.

The inspiration for their big day was rustic New Mexican. Coral and Navy tones filled the ceremony and reception areas. The ceremony was a traditional Catholic ceremony at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Arroyo Seco, NM. It was special to the newlyweds because their family friend (who is a priest) performed the ceremony in a church that they have gone to many times with Erica's grandparents. The reception was held in the sweetest tent in Valdez, NM. The property crosses the Rio Hondo and the mountain river added to the atmosphere. Erica and RD invited their friends and families to bring their campers and RV’s. It was in a pasture that has grazed cattle for many years. 

When I met Erica and RD last year to take their engagement photos (in the same place that they spent creating memories with Erica's family, RD proposed to Erica, and that they started their journey as husband and wife) I was totally enamored with their love for one another and their dynamic as a couple. The way they laugh with one another, the love in each other's eyes, and the way they talked about their future together was so heartwarming. I knew when it came time for their wedding, it would be beyond special and intimate. I had submitted their engagement photos to Rocky Mountain Bride and they were published on their blog (woohoo!). Erica and her mom used Rocky Mountain Bride for inspiration while planning their big day. The flowers were done by family friend, Beth Gray. She chose the coral colored roses along with other items to tie into the theme. The wedding cake was a gift from another family friend, Noreen Romero. She knew Erica wanted a simple but rustic cake. Besides the cake, the Newmans had the traditional New Mexican cookie, the biscochitos along with cupcakes for their guests. Their favors (oh my gosh, their favors were the cutest!!) were drink koozies along with a popcorn bar that had New Mexican Red Chile Cheddar, Red Chile Caramel, Rainbow, and Watermelon/Blueberry mix.

Erica + RD, capturing your love story has been a huge blessing. You two are destined for an extraordinary lifetime of love and happiness. You are so loved and adored by your family and friends. Your wedding was amazing, your venue was out of this world, and being able to capture your engagement photos and wedding photos has been a dream come true. Thank you for letting me share in your most beautiful and wonderful day!

Cake + Baked Goods: Noreen Romero

Floral: Beth Gray

Second Shooter/Assistant: Jessica Ashley Photos

Wedding Dress: Allure Romance

Boots: Ferrinis

Veil: Hobby Lobby

Tents: Garcia Tents

Catering: Taos High School Catering

DJ: RiveraJams

Venue: Valdez, NM

Bride's Jewelry: Bride's mother + grandmother