My name is Christina & I'm a grateful recovering addict. I am the Lead Admissions Counselor/ Peer Support Specialist at Buffalo Valley Recovery Center. I am married, and have two beautiful daughters - my seven year old, and my 10 year old step-daughter. I feel very blessed to have my family together today.
Six years ago, I was a client at Renewal House, but my journey began much earlier in life. Growing up, I had a very good life. I was involved in extracurricular activities, my parents were strict and I went to church. People often have an image in their heads of addicts “ but my life was normal; I wasn't neglected/abused...my life was really good.
My older brother introduced me to pot when I was 14 years old. From there, I began drinking and smoking pot, progressing to excessive drinking by high school. I drank so much in fact, that I ended up with Pancreatitis. Between the ages of 15-18, I went to rehab 4 times unsuccessfully. I was labeled incorrigible at age 16 by a Licensed Therapist. At 17, my parents had me sentenced to a court-ordered long-term teen drug home, a program lasting 1 ½ years. Although I would turn 18 during the program and no longer be a minor, the court still mandated the full sentence. I ran away from the home several times, and was finally kicked out.
At that point in my life, I had not done any hardcore. Then, I met a guy. A bad guy. He was violent; he stole, & robbed people. He was controlling & made me do things I didn't want to do.
Over the next three years, I witnessed a robbery homicide, I watched a double murder occur in my apartment and I was kidnapped and severely beaten. I was prescribed OxyContin as a result of my injuries, which led to me smoking cocaine and heroin. As a result of these new hardcore addictions, I had a habit to feed and was slowly lured into becoming an escort and being controlled by a pimp. Along with several other females, we were taken city to city/state to state and forced to post ads online in order for our habits to be fed.
In 2004, I was given a 5 year probation sentence. I never reported to the Parole Officer. Instead, as a victim of human trafficking, my lifestyle evolved into using drugs and prostitution. When I was arrested in 2006 during a large prostitution bust coupled with not reporting for parole, I was sentenced to 2 ½ years.
How did I get to this point? From being raised in a Christian family to now involved in a human trafficking ring.
Once I was released from jail, I did "OK for a while.
In October 2008, I became pregnant. While the nurse was congratulating me on my pregnancy, all I could think about was the fact that I had not slept in 3 days and my diet had consisted of Ecstasy and Alcohol. I told the nurse what I had been doing, and she held my hand, looked me in my eyes and told me it was ok because I didn't know then, but now I do.
No recovery information was given to me. During my pregnancy, I stopped using the hard drugs. I did smoke pot and my daughter was born with THC in her system. The hospital contacted DCS, however I was told by the caseworker that they don't do anything for marijuana. In 2009, my daughter was born in August and my husband was arrested in November. Following his arrest, I relapsed and was using morphine with-in 2 months “ the first time I used a needle.
At this point, I knew I needed help. I had an innocent baby to take care of, and I was using needles; something I had always said I would NEVER do. I found Renewal House, a place I could bring my daughter with me, and got on the waiting list in February 2010. I continued to use in the meantime, once again doing whatever it took to support my habit. I even went to Knoxville for a weekend and didn't come back for my daughter when I was supposed to. When I did not come back, I was reported to DCS for abandoning my daughter.
That was when reality hit. I was close to losing custody of my daughter, I was an addict and still on the waiting list for Renewal House. My daughter was placed in the custody of my parents until a bed was available for me. In July 2010, I was finally accepted to the program. I came to Renewal House with my daughter.
If it had not been for Renewal House, I don't know if I would be alive today, much less have my daughter.
In 2011, my final wake-up came. I fell asleep driving and slammed into the back of a car driven by a women with her 8 year old son while under the influence. I claimed the accident was a result of me dropping my cell phone, but I know I nodded off while driving.
I needed to stop. For myself. For my daughter. It was time. And I did.
In April 2014, I started working at Buffalo Valley Recovery Center. I remember my Dad telling me "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life, and I thought to myself, I want to work in recovery. He was right. I love what I do. I help others just like I used to be every day! I married my daughter's father in August of this year, and we have a beautiful family.
I have been clean 5 years and am SO grateful for Renewal House taking a chance on me. Renewal House gave me the strength and life skills to begin my road to recovery with my daughter. I wasn't going to leave her again. There is no other place that allows a family to heal together. Renewal House has never turned their back on me, and is always available!
Thank you Renewal House, you saved my life, and taught me to love myself, so that I can love others. I have a wonderful life today, and I thank God everyday for Renewal House.
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