Alcohol wasn’t a problem for Susan, or so she thought. She was determined not to follow in the footsteps of her parents who were alcoholics. When Susan was fifteen years old, her mother left. That’s when her father started drinking heavily. He was jailed after a fourth D.U.I arrest. Susan wanted to keep herself and her younger sister out of foster care so she dropped out of high-school, got her G.E.D. and got married. She took care of her sister until her father was released from jail. She held the family together and took care of everyone and made sure everyone thought she was okay.
To all appearances she was okay. She stayed married, and had two children. She never touched a drink but her husband did. He was an alcoholic. She finally ended the marriage, took her kids and went home to live with her father. While she was there she took the opportunity to enroll in school to become a Medical Secretary and a Certified Nurses Aid. She completed the training and worked at nursing homes and hospitals. She was always a responsible employee and was trusted with added responsibilities on the job.
Still, Susan never used alcohol, but when she married for the second time she married another alcoholic. She tried to make it work she says but, “I couldn’t keep everyone happy. I was working multiple shifts and a lot of hours at the hospital. The kids were unhappy, something had to go.” So she ended her marriage.
Part of Susan’s job as a Nurses Aid required lifting heavy patients in and out of bed and wheel chairs. During one of her shifts she injured her neck. The doctors advised her to have surgery. The pain was intense, but she opted not to have surgery. She said she could deal with the pain. She was prescribed pain medication and took it as directed. After a while the prescribed dose didn’t help the pain, so she took more. Over time she started to like the way the pills made her feel. “Everytime I had a problem, I took a pain pill and everything felt better. That’s how I became addicted.” At 38 years old she was completely addicted to prescription drugs. She had to have it, not for pain anymore, but to live. Then the doctor stopped writing her prescriptions. Susan turned to heroin.
Susan’s life spiraled downward going from prescription drug addiction to heroin addiction. She lost her job and her family was torn apart. She got into some trouble and found herself in jail.
While Susan was serving time in jail she learned about City Mission’s Avis Arbor Women and Children’s Shelter, “The treatment team at the jail determined that my situation was a good fit for the program at Avis Arbor and I was sentenced here for a year.”
Five years of Susan’s life was spent addicted to prescription drugs and heroin. She’s been at the mission now for 61 days and is celebrating 18 months drug free. She shares, “I’m so grateful for this program and the staff.” She shared that she never had a church upbringing growing up. I’m learning the true meaning of love through the classes at the mission.”
Susan recently accepted Christ during a mission chapel service and plans to be baptized soon. These days Susan’s sobriety is stable, she’s growing in her faith, learning more about God and recovery. She wants to use what happened in her life to help others who struggle with addiction. “I’ve had some hard lessons, but I got through it. The longer I’m here, the more I learn.”