To be honest, I started using when I was a young teenager. My drug use lasted and progressed all the way into my twenties. At 26 I got married for the second time and I just kind of stopped using, just like that, on my own. It was a dumb thing to do—I had no help, no support from anybody, no tools to fall back on. It was inevitable that I would eventually just pick up where I left off, and that’s what I did. I quit for about ten years but when I relapsed, I relapsed bad. My drugs of choice were alcohol and meth.
Once I started using again, I wound up with about 12 felonies and ended up going to prison. The last time I was arrested, I lost everything—my family, my kids, all of it. It was an endless and ongoing cycle; I went to one drug treatment program while in prison, got kicked out, went to another one, relapsed, walked out, etc. Eventually, thankfully, my parole officer sent me to Phoenix House of Santa Fe Springs—what a gift! I walked in those doors with only the clothes on my back, and that’s when I turned my life around.
I blame myself for my lack of success those first few times in treatment. Was I willing to sit down and listen? Nope. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I was able to hear the message for the first time while I was at Phoenix House, and that’s what worked for me. At first it’s such a culture shock, going through inpatient treatment. But when I got to Phoenix House I was tired and I truly wanted to change my life. I was able to do that with the tools they taught me. I got a new lease on life at Phoenix House.
When I completed treatment it would have been easy for me to make dumb decisions and go right back to where I came from—the drug use and the vicious cycles. But the Phoenix House counselors sent me to outpatient treatment and a sober living program when I graduated. I spent 20 months in sober living, and those outpatient classes were where I met my husband. That’s right; I got remarried!
Phoenix House was instrumental in helping me get back in touch with my kids. My littlest boy is eight years old now, and he had been living with guardians while I was in prison. While in treatment, I made the decision to allow those folks to adopt my son because I didn’t know where my life was going and I wanted him to be taken care of. But it’s an open adoption and he’s back in my life today, which is great. My 21-year-old and 20-year-old sons live with me now as well as my 17-year-old who’s been with me since he was 13. It was quite difficult for me to get all my kids back but I never gave up, and I have Phoenix House to thank for that.
I’m going to community college now, and I’m going to transfer to a four-year university to get my degree in sociology and human services because I want to work in treatment and help people. I’ll have seven years of sobriety this August. That’s my story in a nutshell—there are a lot of bad points, I think the worst was at the very end of my addiction, running from the police and racking up felonies and that endless feeling of emptiness. But now, it’s so different. Every day I wake up and I’m doing the things that I want to be doing, things I wouldn’t have been able to before treatment. I can’t say I ever imagined such a good life for myself, even though I always paid attention back in those meetings, you can never really imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who’s in recovery. But now I look at myself and I know—I’m one of them. One of the lucky ones. I have a house, a car, children, a marriage, and all kinds of blessings. That feeling of emptiness is gone. I’m not saying every day is perfect; oh no, it’s still a struggle. But I’d rather struggle like this. Recovery is a struggle that’s worth it.
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.