Andrea is soft-spoken, a little shy, but speaks openly and frankly about her experience with the disease of addiction and has a humbling story of transformation. At her worst she was addicted to heroin, homeless, and lost her kids to her mother because she was unable to care for them. Andrea says she did not know how to stand up for herself, which often got her into trouble when her friends and family pressured her to engage in dangerous behavior. Being sent to prison for four months was a wake-up call, and she spent long hours in her cell praying for the strength to change her life.
When she left prison in January 2012, she knew she needed to get into a treatment program right away, and was determined not to slip back into her old ways. The structure of the recovery program and community of supportive at Pathway Society was exactly what she needed, “When I came to Pathway Society I didn’t feel alone; I’d felt alone my whole life. There were people like me who were clean and sober who showed me that I could be clean and sober, too. They paved the way.”
Her experience at Pathway Society was wonderful. An attentive student, she actively participated in meetings and worked one-on-one with her counselor, Albert, to learn important life skills that she had missed out on, “I learned how to set healthy boundaries. I learned about self-care, I learned who I was and who I wanted to be. Before going in to treatment I did what everyone else wanted me to do instead of listening to myself because I wanted to be accepted. I learned how to stand up for myself and when I left I didn’t give in as easily to the pressures of those around me.” The most valuable thing Andrea took away from her time at Pathway Society was the ability to be a whole person, and to live life on her terms.
A caregiver by nature, Andrea is in the early stages of becoming a drug and alcohol addiction counselor, “I want to help people like myself, the people who have gone through the things I’ve gone through. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but this is like a calling. She loves being a part of a community of healers, “Taking time to help clients is the most wonderful feeling in the world. The other day we had a client almost hang themselves, and to be able to step in and prevent that was incredible.”
Andrea sees her story of transformation as an inspiration to those who don’t think they have the strength to get the help they need, “I am the person I always wanted to be, but was too scared to try to be; I’m going to school to become a counselor, I have a new baby and I have a relationship with my two older children. I’m doing things that I never did before because I was always in my garage getting high.” When asked to compare her life now to the life she lived before, she said, “Enjoying life is a whole different high.”