Brenda -- Finding a future in Sobriety
Brenda had her first Valium at the age of 7, seeking to escape the horror of childhood abuse. It was the beginning of decades of abuse of prescription pills – until she found the path to a drug-free life via the Champion Center. “I never drank and used drugs to party and have a good time. I didn’t know that.”
Instead, the use of copious amounts of pills was a way to escape the demons of abuse – first as a child, and later as an Army soldier raped by a sergeant. The aftermath of that abuse included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The 55-year-old has now been free from addiction for eight months.
But at one point in her life, she was using 300 pain pills a month – opiates, benzodiazepines, and others. In addition to trauma, she suffered from the intense pain of a broken tailbone. “I took anything to make me feel better. In my mind, I thought I was functional.”
Most of her drugs were prescribed, but if she found herself running out, she’d buy more out on the streets. “I was spending $1,000 a month out of my pocket,” on drugs.
Her emotional and physical pain intensified when her sister died a quick death from cancer. “Here I was killing myself and she didn’t have a choice.”
Though she was a military veteran, she had no idea her insurance would cover addiction treatment. She was a virtual shut-in, leaving her home only to attend church services. She was barely eating and continuing to abuse drugs.
One afternoon, she came home from church and took a few pain pills. She asked herself, “God, is this what you’ve got for me?” She recalls the television going quiet, and hearing a voice respond, “This is not what I have for you.”
A few minutes later, she noticed a pamphlet on a table, picked up somewhere weeks earlier. It was for the Champion Center. She called immediately, and found out her insurance would completely cover her treatment. “At that point in my life, I knew I was dying. I was sick. Real sick. I knew I needed help.”
When she entered the center, she was also ill with emphysema. She wasn’t sure she’d survive the detoxification process. She was scared. “I didn’t want to die anymore. That’s what I was doing. I didn’t want that. I knew there had to be a better way.” In treatment, she received counseling from PTSD and trauma counselor Todd Langus, Psy.D
She felt great shame at being raped, and from abusing drugs. Counseling helped her live with that. “With Todd I was able to get everything out in the open and get the tools to deal with the issues. Yes, it happened to me. And I can survive.” She sought solace and advice in the all-female primary group, and in classes that dealt with anger management and how to cope with “triggers,” or stimuli that prompt a desire to engage in addictive behavior.
She challenged counselor Turtle Klein, who told her she needed a “sponsor.” A sponsor is someone who helps a recovering addict stay drug and/or alcohol-free.
Brenda argued that God was her sponsor. “Turtle told me that God provides people to help,” which convinced Brenda to find the right person. She now volunteers several days a week at the Champion Center.
“If I can do it, so can other people. It makes me feel good. If there’s something I have to say that might help somebody, there’s no better feeling. I’ve done my best to share and spread the news of this place.” She appreciates the professionalism of the staff.
“If I didn’t have a house to move into, I would have wanted to move in here. It’s safe here.” She lives day-to-day now.
“You’re not cured. The disease is always there.” Now eight months without drug abuse, Brenda’s life has changed. “I have a mind. I can think. I can see things clearly. I see things the way they are. I’m straight and not loaded. I see life real today. I do have hope and faith. I do have a future now.”