Thursday, June 18, 2009

She Found Recovery, and It Is Beautiful

Wanese put her key in the lock, opened the door, and stepped into her new apartment. She was home. Not in a shelter, not in a transition house, but her own place, for the first time in quite awhile. She smiled as only someone finally successful at addiction recovery after many failures, can.

Home, health, and family were things Wanese once took for granted. That was before she began using drugs at the age of 13, starting with heroin, and soon afterward, cocaine and marijuana. She started just to fit in with her peers, but her addiction continued for 27 years. Over that time, a life that was once stable disintegrated.

“I come from a beautiful home. My mother was a registered nurse, and she understood addiction, so she was my support. My brothers and my dad, they gave up on me. They didn’t believe in me, because they didn’t understand addiction.” Wanese struggled to hold a job, and acquired a criminal record. She battled depression and attempted suicide three times. She had a son but was unable to be a good parent.

Wanese had tried entering treatment, but each time, she couldn’t stop using drugs. “I wasn’t ready to stop getting high. I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I was trying to stop for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t for myself. It was for my mom, my son, or for the court.” Each time, she missed her appointments and eventually walked off the program. It seemed there was no way out.

But one year ago, she decided to try again. Sitting in a jail cell for a drug dealing charge, she made up her mind to succeed this time. She thought of her son, now 18, about to graduate high school. She knew he needed her in his life. “I decided to turn my life around. I surrendered in jail. I prayed to God and told Him that if I could get through this 24 hours, I would never use again.” So once again, Wanese walked in to Brandywine Counseling, having vowed to stay clean right from the door. Could she do it? It wouldn’t be easy.

Her willpower was tested right after admission, when she landed a job with a pharmaceutical company. She really liked the job, but stressed about it. Could she get to work on time after her daily methadone dose? Would her hair sample reveal her past drug use? Would they fire her for it? Wanese almost gave up and walked away from treatment again. But with her counselor’s encouragement, she stuck it out. Her company learned of her past drug use, and her involvement in treatment. They were supportive, they didn’t fire her, and she was very happy.

At the same time she was learning to cope with stress, Wanese was also finding outside peer support and structure. When she entered BCI, she had also put herself in a transitional housing program, Mary Mother of Hope. There, she attended support groups and got help with life skills like starting a savings account and budgeting plan. She also began going to 12 Step meetings in the community, 3-4 times a week. She was gaining focus, and finding stepping stones to a new life.

Her BCI counselor, Zona Holloman, was also a big help because she could share her own recovery experience with Wanese. “She has helped me tremendously. Dealing with a counselor that has been down the same road and path that I have been through, that can relate to what an addict’s coming from, made a lot of difference. She has helped me to understand a variety of things I didn’t know coming into this process. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or getting a sponsor, or making sure that I was in a safe haven. Letting me know that anything is possible as far as me advancing in life, and I could go on and on.”

Wanese’s own determination, plus the support of others, was working in her favor. She was keeping her promise to stay clean. Right from the door, she had not even a single positive drug screen. It wasn’t long before she reached the 90 day milestone. She was awarded weekend takehome medication, joining over 400 BCI clients at this stage. Soon, three months became six, and then nine, and she continued to earn more bottles. Excitedly, she burst into Zona’s office one day with the words, “I received my third bottle, and it is beautiful! Especially the weekend ones, because I don’t have to get up or rush to come to the clinic.” Each new bottle was a reminder of what was really beautiful, her new life.

Wanese recently celebrated one year clean. She has a good job. She’s been off probation for 9 months. She bought a car that has helped her attend more 12 Step meetings. She even chairs the meetings at her home group and finds other members to share their life story. She has a good sponsor and works on placing the 12 Steps into her life every day. And, she has her brand new apartment.

“I moved into my own place last week. I’m still on the same format and program, just like if I was at Mary Mother of Hope. I’m in the house by 10:00, even through curfew is at 11. I still make my meetings, I still do my Step work, I still affiliate myself with people who are clean and sober, and I’m still adjusting.”

She has new goals and plans, like going back to college. “I have a degree in computer science [but] because of my drug use, I’m not in that field today. Times have changed, as far as computer technology. [Now,] I would like to be a drug and alcohol counselor.”

Most important of all, she has her son back in her life. She achieved custody and he will move in with her after graduation, to the new apartment. Wanese is free of drugs and has gotten back what she’d lost. Home, health, and family. “It’s a beautiful feeling. There’s just not a word that really can describe it. It’s only through the grace of God. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

1 comment:

KrystalCooper said...

GREAT STORY...keep them coming