I didn’t start using methamphetamines until I was 38 years old. I was a late user—I never even knew about meth before, although I smoked pot in high school. I went downhill as soon as my friend introduced me to it. I stopped caring about myself, my life, or my kids. I started doing stupid stuff, committing crimes, and I went in and out of prison. But every time I got out I would just start doing meth again, not even thinking about the consequences.
Pretty soon I was homeless. I didn’t have a place to go, so I was going here and there and wherever. I remember crying because I was so hurt and I couldn’t see my kids—I had so much guilt about the fact I’d rather buy dope than see my kids. Everything went to my cigarettes and my dope—if I had cigarettes and dope, I was OK. I didn’t care about eating. I didn’t care where I lived or even if I lived.
It was in prison where I first heard about Phoenix House of Santa Fe Springs and decided I wanted to go there. I really wanted to change and to stay off the drugs forever. I was willing to work this time, to not complain, to really follow the program instead of trying to get through it so I could get out and do what I wanted. I was so blessed to get to Phoenix House—my first day there was the best day of my life. I learned so much from the staff, and I’m so thankful for the tools they gave me. Because of them I found the strength to get clean, go back out into the world, and do something with my life. Treatment truly opened my eyes.
When I graduated I moved into a Phoenix House sober living facility and I lived there until a year ago. I’m doing really well now, I started college when I was at Phoenix House, and my goal is to become a drug and alcohol counselor. I want to work in a program like the one that saved my life. I took a DUI class and I got my license back, and now I’m working on expunging my record. I’ve been clean for three years and I still go to NA meetings and stay in contact with all the ladies I met at Phoenix House. Those girls and the counselors helped me have a better outlook on my life and a better plan for my future.
I’m very blessed to be where I am in my life today. My kids are happy, they’re wonderful and supportive—all six of them, plus my three grandkids. They’re behind me and my recovery 100%. Sure, I still have bad days where I cry, but I just take it one day at a time. The best thing is knowing that I don’t have to get high just to get up and live my life. I remember thinking I just couldn’t live without the dope, like I had to have it just to get up and take a shower. I had to have my dope in order to be normal, but now I know that I don’t need it. I’ve got my kids and my grandkids in my life again now, and that’s all I need; they’re there for me, they support me, and best of all, they forgive me.