Andrea was taking up to 30 pain pills each day, going to different physicians in order to maintain her addiction. At that time, she was married with two young children. She felt fortunate to be able to stay home with her children, but her marriage was in trouble. “…even though my mind was clouded with drugs, I always had a dream…to become a teacher.”
Andrea stated that she would never forget the day she informed her husband that she wanted to go back to school: “He said that I was too stupid to go to school.” After that, she just continued to take pain pills. This time in her life Andrea was a period of profound loneliness, and she felt physically and emotionally drained.
Eventually Andrea’s therapist suggested that she needed to enter a drug treatment program, and that she should consider a Methadone Maintenance regimen. He called the ARTS Adult Outpatient program and set up an appointment for her. “ I knew this was my last chance. I was running out of options. I needed to get my life in order, and most importantly, I wanted to be a good mother to my children.”
As a client in the Adult Outpatient program, Andrea wanted her husband to be with her, to be supportive of her during this difficult period, but he was not. Instead her counselor provided her the support she needed, which was critical to her early recovery. She had been dependent on drugs for many years, which meant that treatment was a challenge that required dedication and effort. “I worked extensively with my counselor for months. I had to work through my pain, my tears, my depression, and my feelings. I had to learn how to live life all over again, and to change my thinking pattern.”
Andrea’s commitment to her recovery was strengthening each week as she actively participated in treatment. She was more social and began to make new friends. She also was becoming more assertive and independent. Her husband, unfortunately, continued to criticize her, and their deteriorating relationship eventually led to a divorce. “Once again I was feeling lonely and depressed. I knew that I didn’t have the drugs to turn to; I had something better because I had my family, friends and counselor…I was overwhelmed with all of the support I had.”
Working with her counselor and friends, Andrea decided to go to school. She met with a college advisor, applied and passed the entrance examination; she remembers this as one of the happiest days of her life. She was enrolled in Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). In addition, she started dating and later married a man she met in school; he was very supportive of her and encouraged her to continue with her education. Andrea graduated and subsequently received her teaching license, and after working in an elementary school, she returned to UNC for a Master’s degree.
“I learned that with a lot of work and effort, anything is possible…I also know I will always be a drug addict: a recovering drug addict. …The counselors at the ARTS (outpatient) clinic are very caring. They all want to see us grow and succeed in our recovery. They do not get us clean and sober; they provide us with the tools we need to obtain a healthy and happy lifestyle…As far as I am concerned, the ARTS clinic saved my life. As time goes on, it gets easier, but I know it will always be an ongoing process in my life. To everyone that works at ARTS, thank you!”