Georgie-Lyn Crotty's life began again the day she learned old friends thought she was dead.
It was the loneliest moment in her teenage descent into drug addiction.
"It hit me: I have been in a basement in Osborne Village for the past two years doing drugs," Crotty recalled. "And everybody thought I was dead, and it didn't seem that fazed them. I felt terrible."
Crotty's story is a cautionary tale. She shared it with the CBC to warn kids and their parents about the dangers of drugs.
Her message is blunt: don't be naive. Dealers are everywhere. They hover around high schools. They're after your kids.
"The first time is always free. That's how they hook you," Crotty said. "Then when you need it, they'll make you pay money."
Crotty, now 23, was an innocent kid getting ready for Grade 7 when the older sister of a family friend invited her to hang out. Hours later, she was offered drugs.
"They told me it was exactly the same high as smoking weed. It just tasted different, and you had to do it differently," she said.
In fact, it was crystal meth.
"So at 12-years-old, completely unknowing, I took a giant hoot out of a glass-cracked meth pipe," Crotty said. "And no one thought this was wrong."
Crotty remembers little after that. The rest of the day was a blur but by nightfall the drug fog lifted. Crotty was sick, her head was pounding. She was partially dressed. She'd been sexually assaulted.
The little girl who watched Saturday cartoons was gone forever.
"The world wasn't unicorns and rainbows anymore," she said.
Grades 7 and 8 were valuable for one thing, she said — scoring drugs from older students who were also dealing.
Cocaine, weed, mollies, meth, washed down with cheap booze. Crotty tried it all and it showed.
She was violent when she was high. She was angry when she was high. She was suspended from school after she threatened the principal. She was apprehended by Child and Family Services after she threatened her mother.
By the age of 14 she a full-blown addict living in an Osborne Street basement with a meth dealer twice her age.
Dreams of high school dances, high school field trips and high school grad all went up in a toxic drug-laced smoke.
"I was miserable, I didn't know how I got into this life [and] I didn't think I would ever get out of it. I was the lowest of the lows. A drug addict," Crotty recalls.
She kept herself high so she could forget that pain. But she was forced to remember it during a chance meeting with a childhood friend on a bus ride.
Her name was Sara Daher. They were once thick as thieves but that was before the drugs.
"That's my advice to students today. If it feels bad, it is bad. Call your parents. Just go home and be safe." - Georgie-Lyn Crotty
"I was so happy to see her because we all thought she was dead," Daher recalled. "I went home that night and said 'Mom, guess who I saw? Georgie-Lyn! She's alive!'"
It was a sobering thought for the teenaged drug addict — only 16-years-old and as good as dead to her friends.
Soon after, Crotty called police. They contacted her social worker who got Crotty into a group home and treatment.
By the time she was 18, Crotty was clean and working part time. She wasn't, however, back in school.
"It was very eye-opening watching everyone move on with their lives and realizing that people are becoming doctors and lawyers and nurses," Crotty said. "All I had was a Grade 8 education."
She was demoralized but now she was determined. She enrolled in adult education and slowly but surely, completed her courses. She graduated last year with a Grade 12 equivalency.
Today she is newly married, exploring career options and even considering post-secondary education.
She is proud of herself. She is a survivor; a survivor who is now a high school graduate.
"I wish I'd trusted my gut and refused that first offer of drugs," she said. "I knew it was wrong, I knew I was scared but I didn't act on it.
"That's my advice to students today. If it feels bad, it is bad. Call your parents. Just go home and be safe."