Taylor Nicole Dean, a vlogger who went viral two years ago for the video "All My Pets," returned to YouTube to discuss her heroin addiction, her recovery, and leaving an abusive relationship with a man 10 years older than she is.
Dean was the subject of a Reply All episode that dove into how she became one of the most popular creators on PetTube, the YouTube niche of exotic animal care. The episode raised concerns about her relationship with musician Jonny Craig, the 33-year-old frontman for the band Slaves. Dean is 22. Over the past year, YouTube gossip forums also voiced concerns about Dean's ability to take care of animals, and pointed out track marks in photos and videos she posted.
Dean addressed the past year and her addictive tendencies, which spun into a cocaine habit she said was able to stop and pick up whenever she wanted. But Craig had a history of opiate abuse, and when they began living together convinced her she could continue partying on cocaine if he could take various opiates.
"When you find your drug of choice as an addict, you can't put it down," Dean said through tears. "I didn't understand why he kept going back to opiates, because I could stop, and I just didn't understand why I wasn't good enough for him to stop."
She told her viewers that she thought addiction was a choice, until it happened to her.
Her heroin addiction began when her monitor lizard, Kronos, had an upper respiratory infection. The veterinarian gave her six needles pre-loaded with injectable medication. Craig stole a needle from the freezer to shoot up heroin in the bathroom, and then coerced her into finishing the rest of it together. He convinced her they'd be able to get clean, but should experience one high as a couple. They were never able to sober up for good, until she went to rehab without him.
"My addiction was full-blown, and I was sick ... I was still trying to share my love of animals with everyone," Dean said, explaining how her YouTube career fell apart because of her addiction. In an onscreen text note, she added that Craig made her publicly post about how much she loved him or he'd become "mean and extremely upset."
A month into using, she broke out into full-body hives that lasted for weeks. That wasn't enough of a wake-up call, though.
"Nothing that was logical that could stop a person using, could stop me," Dean said in her comeback video. "That is what addiction is."
She eventually went to rehab and was able to temporarily stop using heroin by using Suboxone, a narcotic used to treat opiate addiction. She ended up relapsing, and didn't fully embrace recovery until a friend sent pictures of her bathroom covered in dirty needles to her mother.
Dean's mother was able to convince Craig to leave the apartment for a week, and began dropping by unannounced to check on her daughter. Although he left her with some heroin, Dean quickly ran out and went through a nasty withdrawal. When her mother visited during the worst of Dean's withdrawal symptoms, she drove her daughter to a rehab center and Dean checked herself in.
There, she finally started to "listen and hear things," and managed to finally break off her relationship with Craig.
"I'm sick and going to have this problem for the rest of my life," Dean said.
When she left the center sober, she moved back in with her parents and began going to 10 hours a week of intensive outpatient therapy. She told viewers that she plans on picking up where she left off before her addiction, and wants to resume making videos about her animals.
"I am very invested in recovery," she concluded. "I absolute need help, I can't do this alone ... I am back."