True Story: Ashley

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I’m 24 years old, and I’ve been struggling with substance abuse and alcoholism for over ten years. I started drinking when I was 13, and pretty soon I was abusing Oxycontin, Xanax, and cocaine. I never wanted to be an addict—but I had no idea how to get clean.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was hopeful; I had already tried three different treatment facilities without much success, and I thought having a kid might finally motivate me to get sober. I was wrong. The responsibility of raising a child only deepened my addictions. I had just moved to Virginia from Hawaii and I was depressed about leaving my friends and the environment I was used to. I started attending an outpatient program, but I just couldn’t stay sober—I ended up getting arrested. Apparently I had to hit rock bottom before I found the right place for me. I went to see my counselor before my court date, and she told me about Phoenix House’s Mother and Child Program. I asked her to get me in as soon as possible!

Ashley: A true story of substance abuse, treatment & recovery

I’ve been in the program at Phoenix House’s Demeter House for a couple of months now, and it’s going much better than I ever expected. It’s so different from what I’m used to; I have structure now, and rules, and sober friends. I’m finally hanging out with other women who are in the same situation: fighting addiction, raising kids, determined to stay sober. It’s amazing to finally feel supported in my recovery. My daughter Leighton, who is 13 months old now, is doing really well. We LOVE the day care lady here—there’s no one else I’d rather have taking care of my little girl. Leighton is adjusting incredibly well and she enjoys living in a house full of people.

Once I complete residential treatment, my main goal is to establish a sober support network out in “the real world,” and to continue attending meetings. I’m going to get a part-time job and establish a set schedule, so I won’t be sitting at home, bored, with no way to combat cravings. I want to get it right this time by addressing my problems and being honest with myself—instead of just suppressing all my feelings, which would inevitably lead me back to my old unhealthy ways. I feel like I’m really working towards greater independence by raising my child all on my own, and I’m glad I moved out of Hawaii and away from my drug-addicted boyfriend. This is a better place for me and for my daughter.

I hope other mothers in recovery find a resource like this program. It’s valuable because it’s honest—you realize that, although these people will do so much to help you, nobody can make you stay sober but yourself. Here, you learn to love yourself and respect yourself enough to realize that long-term sobriety is possible, and it’s what you deserve.

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  • HI Ashley. I read your story and just want to say the being a little more then 30 years recovery alumni of Phoenix House I’m extremely very proud of you. As you stated that no one can really do it but yourself is true. Several thing which have helped me all these years is that I never forgot where I came from and whenever the opportunity arrises I speak highly of the program and use most of the tools I learned at the program to advice others. I would say that most recovery alumni who allow themselves to be known become positive role models for many in society. I’ve earned the respect from so many throughout the years and that is do to my positive lifestyled. I always use the words positive thinking and speak much of the power of the mind. Of course I never leave God out of my discusions but I know that he is always present and allows me to make my own decisions as long as I maintain a positive focus on life. Once again congratulations and remember that whatever positive steps you take in life are the same that child follows especially when they are positive ones. God Bless you and continued success.

  • Edwina

    Thanks Ashley for sharing your story, it gives me HOPE. I have a niece in the same sort of situation. I want to help her but she must want the help for herself first. She has a beautiful little boy that deserves to have a sober mother. I hope that with stories like yours she will soon see that she is strong and can take on the world, with a little help and a push in the right direction. keep up the good work, that little girl of yours is lucky to have a mom that wants to make it all right for her.

  • Karen

    Thanks for your story! My daughter Allison I is in jail. The judge I believe is going to court order her here. She has 2 babies 3 & 1 she has lost for now. This gives me hope with my heavy heart.

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