Kaitlin U. and Her Family Recovery Story
I am a mother of four: a four year old boy, twin three year old boys, and my youngest and only girl Charlie. I had tried to quit drinking throughout my time as a mother but even with treatment or being pregnant, I would always turn back to alcohol. After the birth of Charlie, my husband gave me the final choice of either leaving the house or spending time in treatment. My social worker knew about New Directions and quickly I was able to get into detox. I remember I called at 5 am and the intake manager drove in on their Saturday to help me get admitted, and by 5 pm I was on campus with a bed and a beautiful welcome basket.
The first few days in detox were hard – not because of the withdrawal, but because I couldn’t be with my three week old daughter. The day before Valentine’s Day, Charlie joined me at NDFW and I became a different person. During my other treatment experiences, I was distracted and distraught at not being with my babies and I couldn’t focus on my recovery. But at New Directions, I spent my mornings bonding with Charlie in Faith House, where I lived. Then I’d drop her off with Miss Jeanie and volunteer Peggy in the daycare, right next door. It was so nice knowing that my baby was safe and taken care of. I could visit in between groups and breastfeed, then go back into my clinical schedule. I was focused and driven for myself and my family.
Having a village to help support me and my family was incredible. There was always a pair of loving arms to hold Charlie if I needed to eat or talk to my sponsor. During Parenting Class, Miss Jeanie made sure my mind was ready to go home and be a sober mom for the first time with three toddler boys and a newborn. The bond I’ve built with Charlie has already made such an impact on her development, and I learned how to develop special bonds with all my boys.
Now that I have moved back home, I know firsthand how hard it can be to go to meeting with four kids. Finding a babysitter and the means to hire can be very taxing on the family. However, there is one meeting I never miss – the Thursday Night Alumnae Meeting. The boys love seeing all their friends, and my village is there to keep me strong. The kids can’t wait to go to the daycare with volunteer Jenny who makes them feel special and takes them to play in the playground. Being sober is one thing but being a family in recovery is life changing. I know that I wouldn’t be the loving mother that I am today without the holistic treatment I had at New Directions and the continued support of the alumnae family.
Carla B.’s Commitment to Giving Back her Treasure
When I first took a tour of New Directions for Women with my co-workers at Brown-Forman in the Fall of 2017, I had just moved to Orange County. I was blown away that New Directions for Women helped pregnant women, women with children, and that they helped women from a holistic perspective. The care that these ladies receive – it’s not just about their addiction, but about becoming a better mother, daughter, and friend as they journey to sobriety. It’s 360 degrees of care. I consider it a great privilege when I’m able to hear their stories of addiction to recovery. I’m just amazed by the positive impact that New Directions has had on women and children.
My grandmother taught me to always leave a place better than I found it, and my intention in life has always been to live by grandmother’s words and bring joy while doing it. So whatever role I need to fill to bring joy in others (whether that’s sharing gifts with the patients, donating furniture and clothing to the facility, or writing a check for partial scholarships). I want to do whatever I can to help human beings who are struggling get through to the other side. We all have struggles, and it is also our responsibility to help others. By doing so, we are blessed with joy in return.
I remember when I received a full ride scholarship to study abroad in Quebec during my undergraduate studies. I felt so proud and invested in that experience because someone believed in me enough to invest in me. It was definitely a self-esteem builder. I know the patients at NDFW start to believe they are worth it after they get a partial scholarship, because someone believed in them enough to help them change their life. When I attended the Circle of Life Breakfast fundraiser, we were asked to give $562. If everyone in that huge ballroom donated that amount (plus the matching gift), all patients for a year would receive enough scholarship funds to stay for the clinically recommended length of time. I got silent internally, and I heard that inner voice speak to me and it told me to “write the check!” And so I did!
Elle’s Recovery Story, Thanks to a Partial Scholarship
I was homeless and addicted to meth and heroin. I knew I needed help to stop, but I didn’t know I needed to learn how to live. For so long I was on the street without anything, I had lost the trust of my family and the custody of my daughter. New Directions for Women was my last hope and as soon as I arrived, I felt like I had a home. I remember there being butterflies flying around campus and children running around laughing and they made me feel safe. I was learning every day; I was learning about my disease about how to heal my past traumas that I had experienced. I learned about acupuncture and meditation and they really helped me heal too. Learning self-care and self-love was so important for me. It was taught to us in everything we did from waking up and making our beds to gathering for meals. Towards the end of my stay my daughter was able to spend weekends with me. It was amazing to be trusted with her because of the work that I was doing with my clinical team, with family group, and my parenting classes. The foundation of what keeps my life grounded to this day are the choirs, the relationships, the program, and the structure I learned at new Directions.
My insurance only covered 21 days of treatment, but with my scholarship I was able to stay in residential for 60 days and 30 days in NDFW’s Sober Living. At 21 days I still was trying to heal me, to get to the root of what kept me tie to my addiction, I was learning how to care for myself and to be happy again. At 21 days I wasn’t ready, ready to be a transformed woman nor a loving mother. Without my scholarship I don’t know if I would have been able to take my one-year chip this month, or have a job, or sustain my housing, or have my daughter and family in my life. I needed my scholarship for the days that made me a strong woman and a loving mother.
At New Directions I was learning every day; I was learning about my disease about how to heal my past traumas that I had experienced. I learned about acupuncture and meditation and they really helped me. Learning self-care and self-love transformed how I looked at motherhood. My insurance only covered 21 days of treatment, but with a partial scholarship I was able to complete a full stay, including time in the Intensive Sober Living. At 21 days I was still trying to heal and learn. I wasn’t ready to be me, or a loving mother. Without the support of my scholarship I don’t know if I would have been able to take my one-year chip on June 7^th^, go back to Saddleback College in the fall, or be able to work with my Mom and the courts to re-gain custody of my daughter.
Sophie P. and Advocacy Work on College Campuses
The support of New Directions for Women, along with the personal work I have done has enabled me to become the very best version of myself. I had a lot of struggles in coming to accept who I am and surrender. I was taught and empowered at NDFW to be proud of who I am and to stand in my own truth! And this has helped me stick on this recovery journey because I know my story can help others if I share it. I come back to celebrate my anniversary every year at NDFW, to give other women hope and to also regain the courage and strength from my “home”. I am grateful for the love and support I constantly receive from my NDFW family
My recovery allowed me to graduate from USC, where I’ve continued to work as The Haven at College’s National Director of University Relations. The Haven at College was created for college-age students struggling with substance use and co-occurring disorders. I’ve been given a platform on college campuses to educate and inform university administrators and peers about addiction and recovery.
Most people would never think a young person could be struggling with addiction in high school and/or college because we are “too young,” “we haven’t hit bottom yet,” “we’re just experimenting,” “we’ll age out when we graduate,” or “we haven’t lost anything” — all things that I used to tell myself to justify my addiction, but this is as a result of lack of education and awareness. There is also so much stigma associated not only with addiction, but recovery too. I now have the privilege of working alongside university administrators across the country in supporting students who are struggling with addiction, supporting culture change, disrupting the stigma of addiction and at-risk substance use, and providing the universities with a solution! Young people should not have to choose between their recovery and their education — they should be able to have both. I choose to share my story openly with others in hopes that young people understand that it is okay to ask questions about their substance use, it is okay to ask for help, and that being in recovery is not a death sentence. Also, as a half Chinese, half English young person it is important for me to be out. Other cultures see addiction as a moral failing, rather than a disease. I hope I can help educate and change the way people view addiction to disrupt the stigma and shame. Hopefully my story can resonate with others who may come from a similar background.
I have been able to see the impact of my advocacy specifically at my alma mater, USC, where The Haven started in 2012, I have had the privilege of being invited to work alongside Student Affairs Committee on the university’s strategic plan to enhance student well-being and disrupt the at risk substance use culture on campus. We are working on changing alcohol and drug policies to make campuses safer and more inclusive of other communities, such as recovery communities. Students, young people, families, and University administrators reach out to me when they need or someone they love needs help. This is through our commitment to raising awareness and disrupting the stigma of addiction on college campuses. I stood alongside 15 other graduating Haven students at USC in 2018 when I graduated with my MSW, many of which I have been honored to serve as an advocate for them on their journey to recovery
I hope to give young people hope and the courage to find help if they need it. It was important for me to know that there were other people on my college campus, a whole community of students who were in recovery and whose lives had become better as a result of them being sober.
Darlene Q. “I Am the Face of Addiction”
There was a time in my life where I would have shied away from publicly identifying as an addict. There is a definite social stigma attached to addiction, alcoholism, and the face community sees that being. But now, as I have grown more comfortable with myself, I am comfortable saying “I am the face of an addict.” Addiction is a part of who I was, and who I am. My unfortunate journey is now a part of my strength.
28 years ago, on November 6, 1991, I checked myself into a recovery home. My path before that was filled with guilt, shame, hopelessness and helplessness. I was held by the shackles of addiction with using and drinking daily. My journey into addiction started at the age of 16 where I drank at parties in High School to feel normal. Moving nine times growing up, I was always the new kid. Each new state and city meant I started over finding my place. That coupled with a learning disability and additional trauma in my youth, I felt stupid, depressed and unworthy. Drinking brought me happiness and I found solace in it. Then alcohol wasn’t enough. I began to experiment with different drugs and ways to numb myself. Something which “felt” good, turned really bad quickly! So quickly, that within a few short years I was incarcerated. My only saving grace was a court system that gave me the tough lessons which took everything away. I mean EVERYTHING. I was basically bankrupt, homeless, and in HUGE trouble. The last thing I lost was my family. They couldn’t take the abuse from my behavior, and they left my life through tough love. I had hit my bottom and needed help. One phone call to the Alcoholics Anonymous hotline in California lead me to New Directions For Women Recovery Home. The place that turned my life around.
My life changed forever because of New Directions. With their guidance, I have not gone back to the life I led previously. After an 8 month treatment stay at New Directions, I acclimated back into society and gained all of my losses back, and then some. Now, I am proudly clean and sober for 28 years. In those 28 years I have paid a lot of attention to a lifestyle and program which works. I guard my life against drugs and alcohol with all my being. I was quietly sober in the beginning, doing what was needed and required. However, I realized that was not enough. I needed to help others to a greater level. I knew that meant not being quiet anymore but shouting from the mountain tops that I have walked a path that many other women have as well. I can show them the way. I can be the face they need as hope that their life can turn as well. I haven’t been anonymous about my journey for quite some time now. And with that, I hope that I have touched more lives that I would of by staying quiet and anonymous.
A giant platform for my life’s work is recovery for women, and recovery for the children that addiction affects. I care very much for the women that follow me. The women that come to a dark place where a decision happens to become the woman they were always meant to be. A woman of addiction’s tragedy, and a woman of strength, experience, hope, and drive to fly free from the shackles of addiction. Now being a mother myself, I see the grave impact that a mother’s addiction has on her children. From in the womb effects of mental retardation and birth defects, to the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual affects to those babies outside of the womb. I have a life’s drive to end addiction one woman at a time, one child at a time, and one family at a time. My wish is for that mother to give those babies the best start in life, until they grow to be phenomenal adults. Every woman deserves to be a blessing to her children who in turn are a blessing to her.
With my life’s platform, I took my experience, strength and hope to a new level. On November 11, 2018, just around my recovery anniversary, I celebrated life one more time on the stage of the Classic International Woman Pageant. I stood on that stage with my journey behind me, and new possibilities ahead of me. I put myself out there to give my platform a bigger voice. I proudly said, this is who I am! I am an addict with a missionary’s heart! I desire to be a huge voice in my community and to be of service to those who still suffer. Many people also see a pageant girl in stigma’s eyes. In many circles It is seen as a superficial presentation of one’s self. Society is here again misunderstanding the reality. Pageantry is more about us as women having inner beauty! Having the beauty that shines from the inside, not the outside. I learned through this new experience that pageant girls are intelligent, driven, goal setting, outspoken women who have a wish to be a stronger voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are a sisterhood of charitable women who care very much for society’s ills. We have hope for a better future for all, and we hope to promote our causes in a larger platform.
Since my crowning and title received of Classic International Woman 2018, I have made many personal appearances and social engagement presentations where I stood up for women in recovery and women with addiction. I have been a positive voice for change in society. For the hope and resolve that is drastically needed.
I am the face of addiction! I am the face of a new hope for all women who suffer. I am the face of a tragic life turned around. I am the face that any woman can become the woman she was always meant to be. I am the face of going beyond that and becoming a huge voice in my community! I am Darlene Quinn, and I am the face of Classic International Woman, the woman that any addicted person with my journey can become!