Tina's Story

From my earliest memories, I can recall always feeing like something was missing from my life, like I had a hole that couldn’t be filled. I never felt ‘apart of’ or like I belonged in my family, in school or anywhere. There was a lot of alcoholism in my family, my mom, my dad and my step dad all drank heavily. We moved around a lot and I had a lot of new schools and always had trouble making friends. My dad used to let me take drinks off his beers and thought it was funny to watch me get silly. My mom drank screwdrivers and I used to pretend I thought it was orange juice and “accidentally” take a drink. From a very young age I wanted to change the way I felt, by the time I entered junior high I found drugs. People talk about the progression of the disease of addiction, I didn't really have that. The minute I got high for the first time, it consumed my every thought and I was instantly a full blown addict. Immediately I began going to any lengths to get more.

 

By high school I had completed a few drug rehab programs and tried going to meetings. My mom was  desperate to get me help. Her and her husband were alcoholic and hadn’t found the rooms of AA yet so not the best role models. Their disease was out of control too, in fact, it was so bad that I ended up leaving the house at age 15 to live with my father, which was like living alone because he worked nights. This was my ticket to do what ever I wanted. By the time I graduated high school, I was strung out on Heroin. I knew I was out of control and desperately wanted to find my way but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even get into a detox because you had to be at least 18 years old. Over the next several years I tried several treatments, detoxs and meetings. Nothing ever worked for me. I though if I had the right job, or man, or friends maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone and miserable in my own skin. None of those things ever filled me.

 

By the age of 21 I got on methadone, to me, that was the answer. Now I didn’t have to hustle and steal every day to get well. I could maintain some type of “normal” life. I was able to have a job and a house and do
normal things with out having to constantly worry about where my next fix came from. However, going to the clinic every day got old, and paying all that money every month got expensive and the side effects of the methadone were becoming irritating. I wanted off. I tried detoxing several times off the methadone over
a period of 11 years. I tried every imaginable way to try and kick that habit. The detox was just too hard. I couldn’t do it. It was extremely long and very painful. Every time, I ended up using again and would decide being on methadone was better. I resigned myself to the fact that I would just live my whole life on methadone.

 

The disease of addiction was still very much alive in me though, I still wanted to get high. I would use heroin from time to time with the methadone. Then, one day I found crack cocaine. This was the best and worst
thing that ever happened to me. Within 6 months I had lost everything. I was now homeless, jobless, and friendless and my family wouldn’t talk to me. I began getting arrested and had managed to acquire about 10 felonies. Once I started smoking crack I would do just about anything to get more, and I did. All that crime eventually caught up to me. I ended up in jail, sentenced to one year county time.

 

While I was there, I was able to finally detox off the methadone. I was locked up for 6 months away from all drugs and alcohol. It was a rough 6 months, let me tell you! I was so sick I felt like I was going to die. I wished for death, anything would be better. My mother would come to see me and would talk to me about a program. Her and her husband had gotten sober and they knew someone who had a program. That just wasn’t for me I though. I had tried that before and it never worked. Now I’m clean, being addicted to heroin from the age of 17 was my problem. Now that’s gone, I will be fine! I chose to apply for sheriffs work project rather than go into a program for the remainder of my sentence and was released from jail early. I had 6 months with no drugs; I thought I would be fine.

 

When I got to work project, they denied me and they told me to go back and turn myself in to complete the remainder of my time. I really didn’t want to go back to jail so I found another way. I asked for community
service! This was often granted to indigent individuals who had no way to pay for work project. God sure was busy in my life, because I ended up doing my community service hours at the office of Clean & Sober at Loaves & Fishes. I showed up their late, high and unwilling. But the staff at the office welcomed me anyhow. I kept on coming back because I didn’t want to go to jail and they kept on welcoming me. I was still homeless and still hadn’t found recovery. But the seed had been planted in me. Watching the people come in there and get recovery and start changing their life was having an impact on me. Without working a program it wasn’t long before I was back on drugs. And I went back to doing what ever it took to keep me high, which always involved crime. I was arrested again. This time, I wasn’t so against the idea of a program and I asked the judge for day for day credit in a program and he agreed. So, I went to A New Start on a court order. Originally, when I first arrived I thought “I’m just going to do my time and get out of here” but all that quickly changed.

 

For the first time in my life, I felt a part of and like I belonged. I learned to bond with women and I learned to have relationships that were built on trust. I started going to meetings and learning about myself. I made one mistake though; I got into a relationship too fast. Some habits die hard. I soon started focusing on him rather than my program. About a year later, we were both living in the transitional apartments; his apartment was
right below me. We both had jobs and lives; we thought we had it all together, until he broke a bone in his neck at work. The doctor had given him pain killers to help ease the severe pain he was in. It wasn’t long before I was taking his pain medication too and we had to leave. We thought we didn’t need them and got our own place. We were miserable. Within a few months I was begging to come back. The new family I had made at A New Start and Clean & Sober never gave up on me. I was welcomed back and never judged. The relapse was a painful experience but I grew a lot from it. I realized how important working a program is if you want to maintain your sobriety.

 

Once I came back, I worked diligently for my recovery, I went to a lot of meetings and I worked my steps with a sponsor. My life was really changing and I was growing. I finally completed those community service
hours in the office at Loaves & Fishes and soon thereafter became the Office Manager. Clean & Sober not only helped me get my life back but they gave me a job when no one else would hire me. I spent 4 years in that office and I am grateful for every day of it. It was the most rewarding job I have ever had. Being a part of helping people change their lives was an amazing experience!

 

I always thought I would die by the age of 35, I just knew the kind of life I lived I wouldn't make it into old age. Instead of dying at 35, I got pregnant, clean, and sober. I have a 4 year old daughter now that will never have to see her mom drunk or loaded because I was blessed enough to find the rooms of recovery and a program that never gave up on me, no matter what. Clean & Sober helped me get my criminal record expunged and i got a job with the state. next month I will celebrate 7 years off drugs and alcohol. All because Clean & Sober gave me a chance when no one else would, when everyone else had given up on me and no one thought I could ever get clean - a lost cause. I have watched so many people walk through the doors of that office desperate, alone and feeling completely hopeless. Watching hope return to an addict's spirit is one of the greatest gifts of recovery. Thank you Clean & Sober for all the lives you save and for saving mine.