I remember my parents used to drink and smoke around me. Every weekend they would gather together to drink, smoke marijuana, and sniff cocaine. The next day they would be so hung over they would say, “Jackie, why don’t you just clean up?” I would clean and while I did I’d smoke the weed, scrape the cocaine off, and sniff it.
My mother was really overprotective of me, but whenever I could I got away. If I saw friends outside smoking weed I would go and do it. At school, my friends let me try acid and angel dust. I still had family members who were dealing drugs, and whenever they needed a runner they would call me. When I came back I would always get paid: “Here’s some money and here’s a little bit of this.”
I became a mom when I was 21 and I didn’t know where to go, what to do, or who to turn to. I ended up on the street in Queens, smoking crack. The cops took my daughter from me, took her to the emergency room and that was it. I never saw her again. I wasn’t able to get myself straight; I didn’t have any support from family and I used that as an excuse to get high. I lost her.
My substance abuse continued on for a couple more years, but I stopped when I had my second daughter and was clean for about three years. Then I relapsed again with crack, and child services got involved. They said, “You can either give your daughter to her dad or we’ll take her from you. She’ll go into the system.” So we went to court, I gave her to her dad, and I went through a 28-day treatment program on Long Island. I completed treatment and had nowhere to go so my daughter’s dad said I could stay with him. “Hopefully you’re going to stay clean for a while,” he said. I moved in with him and relapsed again, not because of him—because of me.
Then I went into a hospital for detox. There was a methadone program across the street, and my husband’s brother worked there. I asked, “Is it possible for you to help me?” There was no detox for crack, so he went and bought me a 40-ounce can of beer and said, “You’re going to tell them you’re an alcoholic.” They kept me in detox for ten days, and then a social worker referred me to a treatment program, Phoenix House in Yorktown, New York, and then Phoenix House Long Island City Center.
Phoenix House helped me understand my addiction. All along I thought it was everybody else’s fault that I did drugs, but I realized that I’d known right from wrong all along. At Phoenix House I learned to see the consequences of my addiction. Now I know I would rather be clean and sober than deal with the negativity of getting high and the trouble it causes. I’ve learned to deal with my emotions; I hold myself accountable for my own actions and I don’t blame anyone else.
The best moment of my recovery is having my daughter back in my life. I continue to live clean and sober, helping others. When I see negative things it makes me stronger, keeps me awake, and prevents me from picking up again. It’s a healthy fear for me.
I am so grateful for Phoenix House. I can’t even put into words the gratitude that I have for the strong foundation they gave me. Today I organize the Phoenix House women’s softball game, advocate for women in prison, and sit on the Phoenix House recovery celebration committee. Phoenix House also hired me as a housing specialist in 2009, so I’m giving back to the community what was given to me. I’m finally walking with my head up high, and it’s a good feeling.
If you or a loved one needs help for a substance abuse issue, Phoenix House is here for you. Email us or call today at 1 888 671 9392.