I grew up in California, and by age 14 I was drinking alcohol and smoking weed. Soon I started throwing up blood whenever I smoked weed, so I quit that and moved on to crystal meth. After that, it was all downhill; I wouldn’t come home, I would ditch school every day, and I ended up getting pregnant when I was 16.
When I got pregnant I stopped using and was cool for a little while, until about a year after my daughter was born I started using again. I lost my apartment, and pretty soon I lost my daughter because I was homeless. That was the toughest part for me—living on the streets, watching my daughter get taken away. But even then, I still didn’t open my eyes and say, “Damn, I’m still here on the street, what am I doing?!” Instead I just kept going, kept looking for money to get my next hit. Now when I think about that time, I think, God, how stupid was I? But when you’re so lost in addiction, you just don’t see things that clearly.
Luckily for me, my mom was there for me the whole time—she took two of my daughters to live with her, she never threatened, she always helped if I needed food or money. I couldn’t go live with her again because she had my daughters and we couldn’t risk them getting taken away, but she was there for me nonetheless. I went to jail for the first time when I was 18, and I was in and out for about five or six years until finally the court sent me to prison. By that time I had two sons, and they were both taken away and put into foster care—I was devastated, and I knew things had to change. As soon as I got out of prison, I went straight to Phoenix House Santa Fe Springs.
I was fighting the system at first and didn’t really want to be there, but eventually I came to love the program; I was there for 15 months total and made some amazing connections with the staff and the other girls. I remember sitting in the office on my last day of treatment, crying because I didn’t want to leave. Phoenix House was just such a special place, and it did so much good for me; it got me to go to school and to finally step up and be the person I was supposed to be. Because of that, leaving seemed like such a tragedy to me. But I knew it was for the best, and it was.
Today I’m 31 and going on 3.5 years sober. I have my own apartment with my little boys, who I got back while I was in the program; they’re three and four years old now and we’re doing very well. I reconnected with my father after 26 years, and it’s thanks to him that my boys and I have a roof over our heads. When my sons are old enough to go to school I’m going to go back to school myself—I want to study something in the medical field because I really want to help people. I’m happy now—I mean, I struggled with drug abuse since I was 14, so now I’m mostly just happy that I’m still alive! Addiction is such a deadly disease, but I beat it.
I’m still close with the girls from Phoenix House, we all keep in touch through the Phoenix House Facebook page, and I just recently went to the last graduation at Santa Fe Springs. I also have a great relationship with my mom and my daughters again. I see them all the time now, and the best part of my recovery is getting close with them again. My girls are ten and 14, and they’ve seen me go through all of this. It’s all about family reunification at this point in my life, and I’m getting to know members of my family I had never even met before. I’m really excited, this is such a better part of my life than anything I’ve ever experienced. And it’s all because of recovery—recovery is my #1 priority, now and forever.