"Before I knew it, I had a $200-a-day Percocet habit, and I was robbing and lying and manipulating and doing whatever I needed to do to get one more," she said. "I had become a monster. My mom used to sleep with her purse under her pillow out of fear that I was going to come in and rob her."
Her drug use didn't stop there. Ultimately, she moved onto heroin, hanging out in neighborhoods she said she had "no business" visiting. Then she was arrested and thrown behind bars.
"From that jail cell I started to see hope. I had this moment of clarity, and in that moment I no longer wanted to die a using addict with a needle in my arm," she said. "I wanted to live."
Bertino entered a rehabilitation program, during which she learned about herself and how to cope with life's challenges, she said.
She finished the rehabilitation program in 2010. Since then, she graduated college, and now she is starting graduate school.
"It's amazing that I have a purpose," she said.