True Story: April

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Addiction has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember. It affected my life before I even had a choice. My sister was addicted, my mother was addicted…the list goes on and on. My parents got divorced when I was 12; around then is when I started using. I dropped acid, drank alcohol, and smoked a lot of pot. It wasn’t total dependency yet, but I was dabbling. I gave birth to my dAprilaughter Jessica when I was 19; the love for her is what motivated me to get my life together.

I held down a job, began thinking about the future, and had a nice apartment for Jessica and me. But then my mother reached to me for help, initially to get away from her addict boyfriend. Her addiction didn’t seem abnormal to me because I had grown up around her using pills. I didn’t understand codependency or enabling at the time; I didn’t have any coping skills or boundaries, so I let my mother move in with me in hopes that she, too, would find joy. It wasn’t long before she started using drugs in the house, having her boyfriend over, and other actions that I had clearly expressed were unacceptable to me. Eventually the stress and disappointment – along with my mother’s disrespect and drug use – triggered my own use, and I started coping by snorting cocaine.

When Jessica was five, I got with a guy who was a full-blown addict; he introduced me to methadone after my second daughter was born. Any time I couldn’t get it, I would use cocaine to ease the withdrawal symptoms. With no way out, I sent Jessica to live with my dad. I planned for that to be temporary but I had no idea how bad things would get for me. I was totally impulsive, and I focused on everybody else’s problems without looking at my own. Eventually, after I was charged with drug possession, child abuse, and driving with a suspended license, my daughter Savannah was taken into foster care. Meanwhile, I got into another relationship with another abusive guy; he introduced me to crack and shooting up.

By that point Jessica had been at my dad’s for years, which caused unbearable guilt and shame for me. Meanwhile Savannah had been adopted. When I gave birth to my son, Jacob, they kept him in the hospital for four weeks for methadone withdrawal, I had him with me for four months before I relapsed and Jacob’s father ended up getting custody. That was my rock bottom; my son was living with this abusive drug addict, and it seemed like there was no hope in the world.

I remember going to a therapist and she said, “There is little I can do for you while you’re on all of these drugs.” I was sick and tired of the pain. It was my seventh year of addiction. Soon I was arrested for theft, got probation, and was introduced to Phoenix House Citra Center. I was finally ready for recovery guidance and healing for myself. I was blessed to work with the caring staff members who challenged me and guided me. My family really stepped up to help, and my kids were extra motivation. So I really embraced treatment, the education and the structure of the program. I learned how to cope if I felt myself losing control or returning to unhealthy thinking patterns.

I got so much out of Phoenix House. I felt like a teenager again; I was taught accountability and skills that parents teach a child to prepare her for the adult world. When I completed treatment I got into supportive housing, for a job lined up, and the opportunity to participate in Dependency Drug Court. I had choices once I left Phoenix House; I got into a healthy routine and prioritized not setting myself up for relapse. I did a nine-week outpatient program and then switched to continuing care, I continue to remain teachable and humble; I go to groups and meetings, and I live in supportive transitional housing. For me, recovery means letting go and taking responsibility. It’s a lifelong process that Phoenix House allowed me to begin.

And guess what? I got my son Jacob back! He is now living with me full-time. My family is bonding, healing, and uniting every day. I recently attended church with my step-mother, my father, Jacob, and Jessie (who’s now 13). With this whole support system of truly special people, and with hope and faith, all is well. One day at a time.

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  • mark

    I have been sober for 11 years, and have worked with lots of people. I still go to AA meetings every day. I happened upon your story by chance. What an inspiration still for me at this point in my sobriety, and I mean that. I am working with a couple new guys with crack addiction, and I am going to tell them to read this April.

  • sherri

    Hi, I was reading your story. I’m so glad for the Phoenix House. What ever happened to Savannah. Do you think you will make contact with her when she turns 18? Let me know. My sister’s son just found her at 18. I now have a newphew I didn’t know all these years and it’s pretty awesome. My sister is not using (last 3 years), but sometimes still has these fits of anger. Sometimes towards me, too. Do you have any advise for a sister? Much appreicated.

  • Jay

    Hi there…In two weeks I will be attending Phoenix house also. Your story was really touching. It made me feel a lot better about finally grabbing the bull by the horns and finally taking accountability for all of my actions. Thank you for posting your story it really hit home with me and I was so happy to see you got your kid back..always nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel..even if right now it looks like just a glimmer of is definitely still there. Hope you stay on this path..congrats!! Take care..

  • alharris

    Jay – thanks for your comment. We’re happy April’s story could be an encouragement as you start your own recovery. Best of luck as you enter treatment!

  • NameJennifer

    CommentI am a recovering alcoholic of almost 12 years and involved with a man that went through VA recovery and was sober for about a year and a half and is now back on crack cocaine I’m trying to be supportive of him while his addiction is horrible and trying to encourage him to get back into programs through the VA. He is on limited disability, from a stroke he had as a result of his habit. I love him, we live separately, and I pray for him. I talk to him everyday and I am working with my sponsor to ensure I do not let him become dependant on me. He knows i’m active in AA and talks about the time he was sober. I’m writing this to just let others know how achingly painful and deadly addiction is. But I know there is hope for anyone who wants it. I am living proof AA NA etc. do work. Keep Safe and thanks for reading

  • Ronald

    Comment:I am curently at a crisis unit due to my addiction, they allow me to use the computer. Iread your story. It gives me a lot of hope. I will be discharged wednesday.I will be returning back to my apartment. I am also bipolar manic. My doctor sujected that I give up the job and focus on my recovery and my mental illness. I will be going to outpatient, meetings and lots of groups.Your story is very encouraging. Thanks.

  • Mary Kate Boughton

    So glad to hear you found April’s story inspiring. We applaud the hard work you’ve done so far in your recovery and we wish you continued success.

  • bennie d

    Comment hi I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic and crack addict and Bennie is my problem, any time i complaine are don’t want to except life on life’s terms i have a problem living life on life’s terms, i lean heavyly on my higher power because if it wasn’t for. Him. None. Of this would be possible, I’ve been clean and sober 27 mos. It has’nt been easy but it’s has definitely been worth it, today. I don’t just do things without thinking about it first, because if i allow myself enough time to think i can change my thoughts, and if i can change my thoughts. I can also change my behavior, in order to be the best, one. must be able to handle the worst, stay humble and always show gratitude, it’s always a pleasure to share my experience strength and hope.

  • Yo

    Back in the 1980’s, I was hooked out of my mind on crack. My method of use was to crush up a rock, sprinkle it in a marijuana joint and smoke it. At the time, I was also involved in a relationship with what I thought would be my husband. Both of us became hooked at the same time. One day I looked in the mirror and saw an emaciated, haggard looking zombie staring back and that day, I quit cold turkey. I would get on the bus and ride till I was exhausted, just to avoid the urge. I broke up with the love of my life because he wouldn’t join me in my quest to be free, and he committed suicide. This was the year 1986, and I’ve been clean for 28 years. Your story was beautiful.

  • lungi

    I am so glad I bumped on this story. I am recovering alcoholic sober 18 months throagh aa feeling great about it. Couple of months I started using cocaine thinking I didn’t have a problem with drugs. Amazingly I could see myself starting to crave and miss it when not using what was once a month turned to every weekend. This story just changed my thinking I need to also start doing na meetings

  • April

    Recovery is such a lifelong growing experience, on mothers day, i was feeling bummed out, feelings of regrets resurfacing its ugly head, missing my daughters and feeling shame for feeling the joy of having my son and new daughter of 7 months Sarah but shameful for the loss of Savannah and the many years ive missed out with Jessica. Its a consistent and insidious disease, so decided to read my story just to refocus on how far i have come. I looked at all the comments and have truly become re-inspired by the realization that were all in this together and do need one another s experience strength and hope to keep forward and i thank you all for your comments. Still learning daily. 🙂

  • Maura Christopher

    April, your story has inspired so many people, it’s great their words could re-inspire you. It’s true, we really are all in this together! Thanks for commenting and we’re so glad that, on a rough day, you found renewed commitment in seeing your own hard-won progress.

  • juanita patton

    im glad your doing okay i will be celebrating my one year anniversary tommorrow

  • Jesus

    I’ve been in recovery for over 6 and a half years and i can honestly say that I dont miss the old me one bit. I put myself through hell and back but now things aren’t too bad. It just gets better and easier

  • Lawson

    I’m so inspired by your story and I can relate so much. I went through the Phoenix House program when I was 17/18. I’m currently still 18 and I’m in a sober house. It’s amazing the many opportunities I have with just staying clean, a day at a time. xoxo

  • Samwaikeat

    You are a bravely person, where ever the drug have damage your life but you still can overcome it, I sincerely hope that you can enjoy your happy life ,thanks for your sharing 😊😁😃👍👍👍

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