Tuesday, May 10, 2022

YouTuber’s harrowing transformation into secretive heroin habit spun before fans’ eyes

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WARNING: SOOTHING CONTENT. ‘PetTube Queen’ Taylor Nicole Dean has opened up about her battle with addiction and said she’s ‘in hell and scared’

A YouTube sensation who appeared happy and healthy in videos about her exotic pets slowly descended into an emaciated, hive-stricken shell as she developed a spiraling heroin addiction before fans’ eyes.

Taylor Nicole Dean rose to fame online thanks to a viral video in which she showed off the variety of animals she keeps. It attracted more than 19 million views and made her an internet star.

After quitting her job at a pet supply company to become a full-time vlogger, the 25-year-old from San Antonio, Texas became one of the biggest names on PetTube — a YouTube niche that focuses on exotic animal care .

Dubbed “The PetTube Queen,” she now has nearly two million subscribers to her YouTube channel and is reportedly worth over $1 million.

Four years ago, however, her dream turned into a nightmare when her life “fell apart” and she was caught in the grip of a destructive opioid addiction. A year later, after getting clean, she opened up about how deep she was during that time, saying she was “in hell and scared.”

In a lengthy 2019 YouTube video in which she poured out her heart about her struggles, she said, “I always thought addiction was a choice, I really did until I faced my own addiction. As your drug of choice as an addict, you can’t put it down. And I didn’t get it.”

In 2017, she began dating musician Jonny Craig, best known as the former lead singer of the bands Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa and the American group then known as Slaves and now known as Rain City Drive. He is 10 years older than her.

Craig has previously spoken about his own struggles with heroin addiction. And Dean, who says she has an “addictive personality” and previously drank alcohol and cocaine as a teenager, claims she became addicted to opioids while they were living together.

It all started with crushing and snorting painkillers before first smoking heroin and eventually injecting heroin. She said the “darkest day of her life” was when she first injected the drug after her pet lizard, Kronos, was diagnosed with an infection.

“My first exposure to heroin was actually pretty bad,” she said. “I was throwing up all over the place, but I liked the feeling it gave to that part of my brain that was always sick. It gave me a feeling I couldn’t find in any other substance.”

She says at the height of her addiction she shot every hour. “My addiction had outgrown and I was sick,” she said.

“I was still trying to make videos, I was still trying to entertain people, still trying to make everyone happy and sharing my love for animals and pretending I was happy, in this great one relationship and that everything would be perfect and that I wasn’t sick. And I still blamed myself for not being able to stop.

“I ruined everything,” she added. “And every single day I wanted to quit. Every single day I swore to myself that I would stop, but trying to stop made me feel so bad. It was a pain I had never felt in my life.”

She says a severe case of hives all over her body once broke out on her skin and she had to “cover every part of my body” for about three weeks. But “nothing logical that would stop a person from doing anything would stop me from doing it,” she said. “This is addiction.”

“I’ve been trying to keep getting better, there were times I thought I was doing well. Other days I thought I was doing badly and tried to put on a show.”

For her legion of fans, the only clues as to what was happening were the track marks visible on her arms during her intermittent videos. “I always had to cover my arms or wear makeup, intense makeup on my arms as my body was covered in marks,” she said.

She now admits that there have been “noticeable changes in my personality and on my channel”.

She added: “It almost seemed wrong – my personality, my luck and everything. It was like there was this huge wall between me and you. I’m talking about an emotional wall. It’s like I’m not there. “

She said she finally got clean after going to a “world-renowned” rehab center and being prescribed medication to cope with her debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

“They taught me that I’m not a broken, gross thing, I’m sick and I’m going to have this problem for the rest of my life,” she said.

After her release, she said she was in therapy and regularly attended AA meetings. She announced her split from Jonny Craig in August 2019.

In the video posted three years ago, she announced that she had moved back in with her parents and said: “I’m very invested in my recovery. I’m healthy now, I’m in a good place, which is why I’m so optimistic. “

Since then, she’s documented her ongoing struggles with mental illness while speaking up for those struggling with addiction, often sharing pictures of herself during her darkest times versus how she looks now on her social media feeds to show it try Inspire others to break their habits.

In March, she tweeted, saying: “Addiction eats away at body and soul. I no longer have room in my life for this level of self-loathing.

“Regardless of how embarrassing it sometimes feels to have been struggling publicly with my mental health for years, I will at least provide an accurate account that these things take time and that it doesn’t make it pointless or mean that you should give up your recovery.” on.”

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