Angel says that Pathway’s program “worked its magic” on her, helping her to make positive change in her life. She will celebrate ten months clean this week. When Angel entered Pathways, she wanted to further her efforts in sobriety but she knew she needed help to so- at Pathways she found the support and programs she needed to continue her recovery.
For Angel, crystal meth was a way to lose weight after giving birth to twins, and to keep up with her hectic everyday life. She led a “double life”; committing fraud to counteract her young family’s financial troubles, and becoming addicted to meth to keep her weight down and energy level high. She felt like she was solving all her problems, not realizing that these decisions were only the beginning of the true trouble to come. Angel explains that her mother was a user, and that “I used to wonder ‘what does she love more than me?’ Once I started using too I understood.” Meth was a way to numb the pain and fear Angel had for her family’s situation, and a way for her to take back control- not realizing that this was a false sense of and that her addiction would eventually rob it from her. Angel was incarcerated for fraud in 2012.
At this time, Angel’s father was terminally ill with congestive heart failure. Angel was granted one night under parole to return home, say her goodbyes, and then return to prison. Angel got home to an open door, her grandmother and a family friend standing alone. Her father had died the night before, as Angel waited to be released from jail. She was hours too late to say goodbye. This realization was enough to bring Angel to her knees, where she surrendered to the fact that she needed to change: to stay out of prison, get clean, and be there for her family. After beginning recovery at Elmwood Women’s Facility prison, Angel requested to be sent to a residential treatment facility after being released. She entered Pathway Society, Inc in February of 2014.
Angel says she went to Pathways willingly, but that “deep inside I didn’t know if I could change.” She decided to take the suggestions that Pathways offered and test to see if they worked; happily, they did. Angel laughs when she explains how much she’s changed since beginning her recovery; and says “even my facial expressions are different now.” The biggest impact of Pathways program was the staff: Angel says that they “lead by example because they’re addicts just like us”, and that the staff, especially John Harris, is an inspiration because he is “living proof” that recovery really works. The FASCA/Fed group work also made an impact, because this separate group had specific classes in criminal thinking, relapse prevention, and anger management. As the only girl in this specially designated group, Angel says that the men “became my brothers and my immediate support.” Pathway Society also helped Angel look for work while still in-house treatment and she was employed at Good Will before even leaving Pathway, so that Angel knew she had a job waiting for her upon her release.
Angel is happy to share her story because she has “so much gratitude- I’m going to do anything that helps Pathway.” Angel considers Pathway her foundation and she now wants to enter San Jose City College’s drug and alcohol program in order to become a substance abuse counselor: anything, Angel says, to “give back what was so easily given to me.”