Lifeline Connections has been providing services for many decades, supporting individuals and families with mental health, drug, alcohol, adult residential, court, youth, detoxification and sobering programs. People who have had adverse childhood experiences are at greater risk of substance use as teens and adults. Here are some stories of former Lifeline patients who have struggled with addiction and other ACEs-related problems and their journeys to resilience and recovery.
Christi, age 43
Christi’s childhood was marred by a series of traumatic events whose effects lingered well into adulthood:
- Her parents were both addicts and alcoholics.
- At age 4, she was kidnapped and thrown into a garbage can.
- At age 7, she was kidnapped and raped.
- At 13 she rebelled and got pregnant with her first child; fortunately, she wasn’t drinking or using at that age.
- At 14, she was in a common law marriage trying to raise a child.
- She had two children before age 18 by a controlling, abusive alcoholic. A few weeks after they split up, he was killed in a car accident.
- At 19, she started using marijuana and cocaine.
- At 23, she began to use meth with friends, claiming it allowed her to go to work and take care of her kids. She paid for her habit through waitressing. She used every day for 20 years and got good at hiding her use. But she was drinking more, too.
Christi tried to get clean in 2013. She thought she could do it alone with no recovery. She stayed clean for three months, until she started “faking it” again. After a week at Grace Lodge, she realized she could not get clean without mental health and substance use counseling. She decided to go to Lifeline. Here’s how she summarized her experience:
“It was the best decision I ever made in my life. I was so hungry for recovery that I could literally taste it. I was so happy to be in treatment. I was able to obtain all of the things that I lost, including my sense of worth, peace, spirituality, and relationships. With my willingness, my faith, and Lifeline, I am now living and so grateful to be doing so.”
William, age 47
As a child, William was beaten and taken advantage of by a family member. He felt his family didn’t care about him. His behavior got him kicked out of the house and onto the streets. “I was like a triple tornado running from people and ruining lives.” He spent so much time institutionalized that he did not know what life was like on the outside.
After 15½ years in prison, five prison terms, 23 felonies, seven which occurred in one week after his brother’s death, more than 20 years of methamphetamine use, and seven treatment centers, William was finally done. He felt suicidal and knew he needed help.
At Lifeline Connections, William was able to put his ego aside and begin to identify mental health conditions that needed to be addressed. Managing his mental health became a big part of his treatment and remains a big part of his recovery today. “Once you deflate the ego, start listening, take direction and find God, things get better.”
Today William has an “amazing job” in construction, lives in his own house in a committed relationship with all of his children, and is a new father to a seven-month-old daughter. He has rebuilt family relationships. His mom calls three or four times a week and tells him she loves him and how proud she is. When asked about his short term goals, he responded, “Being a better man today than I was yesterday.”
Nancy, age 64
Nancy was diagnosed as bipolar, with PTSD and chronic depression following a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt when she was 23.
“My childhood was unbearable, full of abuse—mental, physical and sexual,” Nancy reflects. “I was sexually abused by a hired hand when I was five. I learned to stuff my feelings at a very early age.”
Her father was an angry alcoholic whose beatings landed her mother in the hospital at least two times a year. Nancy watched her father hold a loaded shotgun to her brother’s head when she was 11. She lived in constant fear.
Her addiction began at age 13, when she started using and drinking. Weekend use escalated to daily by the time she was 17, sometimes before school.
In 1989, she went to her first treatment center, “mostly for my children and because I was planning my second suicide attempt.” She stayed clean and sober for more than six years before she relapsed. “My meth addiction took me to the point of losing my home. The home I’d had for 20 years and raised my kids in. For the next five years I was homeless.”
After her third suicide attempt her family gave her an ultimatum: either she go through treatment (for the ninth time) and stay clean and sober, or she couldn’t be a part of their lives anymore. She entered Lifeline’s residential program in September 2010.
With the help of classes, therapies and counseling sessions, she was able to work on abuse and self-esteem issues. After 45 years of addiction, she changed course. She learned she was a person worthy of love and respect, a person with choices.
“My life today is full of miracles. I have a wonderful loving and trusting relationship with my family and friends. My friends are loyal and respectful. They’ve loved me when I couldn’t love myself.”
Chris, age 48
Chris’s introduction to alcohol at age seven was accompanied by sexual molestation. “By the age of 10, I had been molested countless times by countless men and it always involved alcohol. I was then introduced to marijuana, amphetamines, and cigarettes and like any “good” addict I did these in abundance, as much as I could get and as much as I could do.”
By age 13, he was drinking a fifth of alcohol a day and was homeless and alone. His many years of addiction included involvement with the criminal justice system. Some friends referred him to Lifeline’s detox program.
It took several trips through detox and nine trips through Lifeline’s residential program, but he “stuck it out” and is now clean and sober. “Lifeline Connections truly changed my life. Lifeline gave me basic skills to build on and showed me a plan for living. They taught me that I am somebody who matters and most importantly they taught me to love myself. I have a life today, not just a painful existence. I have become a productive member in society that only comes from an addict who truly found recovery.”