"The past five years I have refused to do anything less than make myself better."

To speak of recovery is to speak of addiction. There are moments in life that you know occurred only because of divine intervention; moments that are sometimes based on smaller overlooked opportunities and eventually build up to that “aha” moment. For me, that moment came on April 12th, 2012. I was eight months pregnant; I hugged my Mom goodbye as sheriff deputies slapped handcuffs on my wrists.

Jail itself is humbling, jail while pregnant is another experience in and of itself. I attended the last four of my prenatal visits in a prison uniform and with Sheriff Deputy escorts. By the grace of God, I was released from jail on pretrial house arrest four days before I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby boy.

I was looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of five to ten years. I went from having a clean record besides a traffic ticket, to twenty-two felonies on my record. After eighteen months of pretrial supervision, the nightmare and stress of my case was over. I pled guilty to one felony and I was sentenced to three years’ probation.

During the last five years, nothing but hardships, storms, and struggles have come. I have taken rejection and been knocked down. I have undergone surgeries and been prescribed pain medication without so much as a conversation on the possible risks of the medication. The same agency that rejected me in active addiction told be at three years sober I was recommended for intensive outpatient. At this point, I had graduated college and was employed. Intensive outpatient would essentially make my treatment my full-time commitment; they suggested I quit my job, which in my opinion would put me five steps back, and I would lose everything I worked for.

I have had therapists, after four years of sobriety and telling them I couldn’t have a pill without the inclination to crush it up and snort it; telling me that maybe I could benefit from talking to my doctor about medication.

The past five years I have refused to do anything less than make myself better; going against the recommendations of courts, therapists, and “professionals.” I listened to my gut, and took advantage of those small opportunities of small intervention I spent so many years ignoring.

I went back to my roots, to church, and my life is much fuller because of it. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and a friend. I have been employed at Head Start for the last two years and have recently been hired as a Family and Community Partnership Specialist.

This is why I am sharing my story. I am a member of the Westmoreland County’s Drug Overdose Task Force. I see my community ravaged by the effects of addiction; there is no doubt in my mind, and with every ounce of my soul, I know I have gone through this for a reason. By the grace of God, I am able to be here today and I refuse to forget or allow the devil to bring me down.

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