FLACRA clients share their recovery success stories
Do you have a FLACRA recovery story? Please share it below.*
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.
I am an addict. I am also a mother, a daughter, a friend and a worthwhile person. I have the disease of addiction and I accept that. The most amazing thing is I had no idea that I was sick until I was 28 years old. I thought the way I grew up was the way that every other kid did.
My story begins with me learning how to medicate my feelings at an age when Barbie Dolls and swing sets make a little girl happy. I would take endless pages of painful memories for me to explain who I had become. I was a young woman caught in the grips of cads and codependency and I didn’t even know what the word meant. All I knew was I didn’t like myself and to avoid those feelings I would drink. I would drink to relax, to celebrate, or to escape whatever it was I was feeling. When I became pregnant I thought I had found the solution to my pain. I would have a child to love and my baby would always need me, was I ever wrong. Having a baby didn’t change my fear of feeling. I tried to be perfect at anything I did. I thought as long as I could have control I wouldn’t get hurt. The cycle had begun. I lost myself in an abusive marriage and I still maintained the mask of a perfect family.
There was no way I could let anyone know that I had failed. Inside I was crying and screaming and on the outside I drank silently when no one could see. Then I was alone with three children still trying to show the world how strong I was. Never once did I imagine that what was happening to me was out of the ordinary. Getting high felt like breathing to me, I needed it to survive. My disease had finally succeeded. I was in full blown active addiction. I lied to myself and truly believe I had found the answer. I was in the legal system by now and they persuaded me with handcuffs and shackles to go to rehab. I didn’t want to stop, all I could think about was getting high. Being clean hurt too much because then I had to sit in my skin and feel whatever nasty feelings decided to show up. Shame, guilt and extreme sadness seemed to swallow me. I survived rehab and believe me I didn’t think I would make it. I went to meetings but I wasn’t sure what to do so I watched and listened and flowed with the waves. I really wanted to stay clean but I felt like I had one last time in me. My guilt and shame was letting the disease that was stalking me make a relapse seem so tempting. My mind kept fighting my spirit. My addiction won and I relapsed. I had forgotten the pain and loneliness that follows using. When the high stopped, the fear crept back in. I was tired of fighting. I knew in my heart it was time to completely surrender. A Community Residence, then Supportive Living was my next stop while staying connected to outpatient services.
While engaged in treatment at FLACRA my vocational counselor asked me to think about applying for the CNA classes at the hospital and today I am a CNA working at a major hospital and working towards becoming an LPN. I love my job and walk with my head held high. It is because of the support and “soft pushes” from my FLACRA counselors that I believed in myself enough to take such a risk.
Recovery has allowed me to cry when my heart hurts and smile when my children tell me they love me. I don’t have to hide from myself or lie about who I am. I cannot forget where I came from and that I am not exempt from ever going back there. However, FLACRA taught me that I have a choice, and I choose to stay in recovery. Life at life’s terms is hard to accept sometimes but I don’t have to get high over any situation, not today. Today I am a better person, better parent, and a productive member of society.”
“I’m sitting in FLACRA’s Maxwell Hall Halfway House clean and sober at the age of twenty years old with lots of hopes, dreams and goals, but it wasn’t always this way…
Heroin took me to 12 medical detox centers, 4 non-medical detox centers, 8 inpatient rehabs, 4 outpatients and 2 Halfway Houses in the last 3 years of my life. Heroin was everything to me and took everything from me. I was skin and bones, the walking dead. I was lying, cheating, stealing and alienated everyone that ever meant anything to me. Jail was my bottom and I knew I had to do something different or die.
I’m so grateful for FLACRA and the fact that I was put on this path to come back into treatment to truly get myself together. Drugs were more important than education but since I’ve been clean I’ve been working on getting my GED so I can get a decent job and be a productive member of society and a better person to my family and SO. It means a lot to me that my family stuck by me and I still have the support of my family and girlfriend and this time a higher power that plays a big part in my life and my recovery today. I’m working everyday to build a stronger healthier relationship with my family and girlfriend and I’m also building a better relationship with myself. I’m looking forward to living a continued program of recovery to enjoy a clean and sober life and be a good role model for my little brother. I want to encourage young people like myself that there is hope and recovery is tough but with the right help it is possible. Thanks FLACRA for being there for me.”
John came to FLACRA due to his problems with substance dependency. He shared in group counseling that his father had abandoned him as an infant, and would periodically reappear in his life to use John for what he could and then he would leave again. One of our counselors worked with John to make a life map, highlighting major points in his life and what lead him to those events. As he created this map he realized that the abandonment of his father established a basis for unsuccessful relationships in his life. Rather than hold onto resentment, John is working in resolving his anger towards his father, with the help of his counselors at FLACRA. Due to the nature of his disease a holistic approach to recovery is essential.
Joseph came to FLACRA with court mandated requirements after his first offense of a DWI. He was facing possible jail time. His initial belief was “I don’t have a problem,” and that the charges were unfair. Joseph started attending group and individual counseling sessions and quickly realized the severity of his addiction. During a group session he shared that he had relapsed. He talked about it right away and wanted to address his mistake. During his time in treatment at FLACRA Joseph was able to maintain his job and he even received a promotion. Joseph has now been sober seven months.
Samuel started counseling at FLACRA due to Child Protective Service (CPS) mandates. His motivation to complete treatment was to see his infant son again. Samuel was hesitant to come to counseling at first, but was rewarded when CPS saw that he was meeting requirements. Now Samuel not only can see his son but has overnight visitation rights. He may soon be getting custody of his son as well. This change has happened in only seven months.
“I am a mom of two and a wife. I can tell you my story, which is so similar to others. The hurt I had growing up with a dad who was a violent alcoholic. I started drinking after the devastating lost of my mom to cancer. The lies I told and lived with, hurt so many people, just to protect my illness. In the end I had two DWIs, two accidents almost killing myself and hurting my children. Alcohol ruined my life!
What I want to share is change. As I began the recovery process I found I needed to change. I kept asking myself, ‘Was I ready to change and how?’ I really didn’t even think I truly had a problem. My relapses and further treatment proved me wrong. After 3 months of clarity through sobriety, I started understanding and feeling what everyone was telling me. I didn’t have any more chances, so I had a choice, ‘do I change or go to jail?’ The decision I made helped me stay on a path to a whole new life. I prayed to God to help me get through what was ahead of me.
During my process, I had to go to Felony Drug Court where I participated in a group called ‘Commitment to Change.’ A counselor at FLACRA facilitated the group which lasted about 22 weeks. The group was about examining your tactics, and thinking about and recognizing behaviors in yourself and how your thought process is altered when you are using. When I drank I would take attention away from myself by talking about the other person. I was good at diversion. I discovered how I justified a lot to make myself feel better. When I was watching one of the films the counselor showed in group, I saw myself… it was exactly how I was and I actually could recognize the habits and behaviors in myself. I knew that I had to change or I would return to drinking. I had to do a lot of changing in my life I never thought I could do. I couldn’t go out with my friends for a long time until I felt secure about myself, I just didn’t trust myself. I had to keep busy doing anything, AA helped. It hurt a lot for a while. Change isn’t easy for me but the more I was changing things, the more I was changing. How peace filled my heart.
I used to run away from life, now I’m learning to live it. I’ve put my time and efforts back where they should be, with my husband and family. I was very fortunate, I could have lost them and my home from all the drinking and lying I did. I even had divorce papers in front of me. With all that I have done for myself, my marriage is better than ever before. I thank God and treatment programs such as FLACRA for helping to give me the strength and courage to change.
I believe everything happens for a reason. My journey isn’t over, it is a day-to-day effort that will take work for the rest of my life. It didn’t start until the day I became open, honest and willing. Today I live just for today and I’ve learned to accept things I cannot change. I am forever grateful to all who have entered my life and hope that I never forget what got me here.”
From the outsider’s perspective, it appeared that Tyler had the American Dream, married for 24 years with two kids and running his own successful construction business. Well known, liked and respected in his community, no one would have suspected that underneath what appeared to be a “perfect picture,” was the reality that his marriage, his relationship with his children and at times, his business was slowly unraveling due to his alcohol use. Because it happened so slowly and so quietly, Tyler’s descent was relatively unknown to most. When Tyler finally hit bottom he was so isolated, ashamed, and depressed that he just didn’t want to live. Tyler ended up at the doors of FLACRA’s Addictions Crisis Center (ACC). During Tyler’s stay in the ACC he began to realize the effects that his alcohol use had on his family life, his parenting skills, his employment and also made the connection from his alcoholism to his mental health issues. After being referred to an inpatient rehabilitation program Tyler returned to FLACRA, this time to FLACRA’s Community Residence Program where he remained for several months. When Tyler and his FLACRA treatment team concluded he was ready, he moved on to the Supportive Living Apartment Program. Today, Tyler, is living independently and says “it’s a whole new life and I owe it, in part, to FLACRA, if they weren’t there for me, simply stated I wouldn’t be alive. My addiction robbed me of everything I ever loved but FLACRA helped me see I could rebuild my life.”
“When I came into treatment this time, I had reached the point where I knew enough was enough. For so many years I tried doing it my way and I knew that this time I had to do something different so I decided to really listen and accept the help that was given to me. Part of that help included treatment at FLACRA and participation in the Ontario County Drug Court program. I don’t know where I would be without either of these programs; even though it was hard work, FLACRA and Drug Court were behind me all the way. This past Spring at my Drug Court graduation ceremony my friends from FLACRA were there to celebrate with me. In the last 16 months my life has changed so much, I have learned so much by finally listening and have met so many great people, there’s just no way I ever want to go back where I was. My community service hours, which were a requirement for my treatment at FLACRA, became full time employment. I have a job that I love and am supporting myself in a great apartment… for the first time I am loving my life sober. I’d like to thank everyone at FLACRA and Drug Court, you can never know how much you helped me.”