Sara began using alcohol and prescription opiates recreationally in high school and college because it helped her deal with her anxiety and stress. She was a good student, worked hard and graduated with honors. She moved in with her boyfriend, Brad (not his real name). After graduation, they married, had good jobs, rented a house and filled it with new furniture. For a while life was good, but then Sara began to realize that items were going missing from the house and found out that Brad was addicted to heroin and selling things to pay for the drugs. She refused to try heroin and encouraged Brad to seek treatment.
However, in February 2014, Sara broke her elbow, which set off a chain of events that led to a tragic spiral into addiction. The break was very serious and Sara was scheduled for surgery five days later. She was sent home with Percocet to get her through until the surgery. She and Brad went through the Percocet in three days, leaving Sara with nothing to help her deal with the pain. Heroin was cheaper and more available than buying prescription drugs illegally and so her addiction to heroin began.
In August, Sara’s parents, Gary and Joann reached out to a friend in the police department for advice on how to navigate the situation. He said, “There is no protocol. The only wrong thing you can do is to do nothing.” They worked tirelessly to try and navigate the addiction treatment system, becoming more and more frustrated at the delays in getting Sara into treatment. Finally, about three weeks later, they were able to get her into the Intensive Outpatient Program at the Women’s Recovery Center.
For the next 12 months, Sara was in and out of treatment. Pam and Carrie, counselors at the Center, urged Sara to get into residential treatment, saying that she needed a clean break from her past and more structure to stay clean. Through the ups and downs of these frightening months, Gary and Joann created a support system with family and friends as well as through their faith organizations, counseling and support group meetings to make it through the ordeal of Sara’s addiction. “The best advice we got was that you didn’t cause this and you can’t fix it,” says Gary. “Feeling guilty isn’t useful and doesn’t help.” Family Therapy sessions with Pam helped them understand the fine line between helping Sara and enabling her and they began to set firm boundaries and stick to them.
In October, 2015, Sara was arrested. Understanding the seriousness of the situation, the magistrate gave Sara the maximum allowable sentence: 90 days in jail, or until a bed opened up at Matt Talbot for Women residential program. Looking back, Sara says, “My brain was totally overcome by the addiction. I no longer had any control.”
Sara stayed in jail for 35 days and then entered Matt Talbot for treatment. This time things finally clicked and she successfully completed her treatment and got her life back. Today, Sara has been drug free for 17 months She has a full time job in a field that she loves, has a good man in her life and is expecting her first child in August. As her dad says, “Even as a small child, Sara would not take advice. She always had to figure it out for herself.” Well, she finally has, and life is getting better all the time.