Sandie tasted her first sip of alcohol at the age of nine. The alcohol was provided by an adult family friend. Not long after, she was given marijuana by her stepfather; she was barely in the sixth grade.
Perhaps they didn’t realize the potential impact of their seemingly small gesture. These were among the first encounters of what was to become Sandie’s twenty-five year-long struggle with drug addiction.
Sandie’s drug use only intensified. By the time she was in high school, she had tried LSD, cocaine, mushrooms, and more. It was by chance that she discovered the drug that truly trapped her.
“I was looking for cocaine with some guys I was hanging out with,” said Sandie as she recalled her first high from methamphetamine in her early twenties. Instead of using cocaine though, they supplied her with her first dose of crystal meth.
After trying the drug just once, it immediately became her drug of choice. “Meth was what I had been looking for. It took the pain away,” said Sandie. Sandie’s past includes years of trauma and abuse from previous relationships.
“The first thought that crossed my mind was that anyone could say anything to me, and it wouldn’t make me cry.” The numbing affects that methamphetamine had on her was something she will never forget, and for years, it was something she craved. The drug took control of her life.
Sandie was arrested multiple times because of her substance use, but it didn’t stop her from using. “The first thing on my mind when I would get out is that I am going to get high,” recalled Sandie.
Sandie is the mother for four: one boy and three girls. She doesn’t have custody of her children, and CPS is involved with all. She was never interested in stopping her drug use until the birth of her youngest daughter, Casey.
“I was sitting at my friend’s house with my newborn,” Sandie recalled. “She was using [meth] and she was holding my baby. When she offered me drugs, I told her no. I didn’t want to raise any more babies around that drug.”
It was then that Sandie chose to follow up with her initial intake appointment at CODAC. Walking up to the door at Mother’s Caring About Self (MCAS), an intensive outpatient treatment facility, was one of the most intimidating moments in her life.
When there was no immediate answer after ringing the doorbell, she contemplated turning back. Just before she did, a friendly staff person answered the door. “I am here for my intake,” Sandie said bravely.
Sandie has now been a member with MCAS for nine months. Her recovery has had a few setbacks but those are far outweighed by her self-growth and dedication.
“Learning how to be honest and trust the treatment process was the hardest part,” she explained. “For me, lying goes hand in hand with my drug use, but MCAS made it feel very safe for me to be honest.”
It is through honesty that Sandie has experienced a breakthrough in her journey of sobriety. Relapse oftentimes happens in recovery, and when Sandie relapsed and used meth for three days in September of 2012, she had the opportunity to lie.
However, when she walked back through the doors of MCAS with her husband, Sandie was greeted, not by judgment, but with genuine care.
“All of the sudden, the whole staff team came running out and I never felt so cared about and like I meant so much before,” said Sandie. “They simply asked me if I was ok and I began to cry.”
Sandie confessed that she had relapsed and was comforted in knowing that she will still have the support she needs for treatment. “I learned that [the staff] isn’t going to attack me and that they are here to guide me through this. I really love MCAS,” said Sandie.
She revealed that her greatest support comes from the team at MCAS, not only from the staff, but from the women there as well. Sandie has formed deep friendships with others in recovery who have endured similar life experiences. She has many goals for herself and her recovery and she knows that it will take hard work to accomplish them.
“I want to get my children back in my life,” she said. “But, I don’t want them back in my life if I am not an honest and sober parent. I have to change, not just for them, but for me, in my heart.”
Even if Sandie doesn’t get her children back, she still vows to choose a life of sobriety. “I didn’t know what it meant to be in recovery until MCAS. I’ve learned to trust the people that are working with me and that they really do care.”
Sandie is currently in the process of applying for a job in the veterinary field. She has a passion and love for animals.
Her own dog — a pit-bull named Blue has been therapeutic for Sandie. “She has helped me deal with some PTSD resulting from my previous relationship. She is comforting and safe and makes me want to be a better person.”
Both Sandie and Blue share similar stories. Blue was rescued by Sandie from an abusive owner. They have helped each other heal from a traumatic past.
Sandie hopes to one day have her own dog rescue where she can assist in the recovery of animals while she continues on with her own recovery journey.