How to Support Family in Treatment

When your loved one enters addiction treatment, you’re filled with a unique combination of emotions from relief to uncertainty. In times like these, you can find comfort in knowing you are doing all you can to encourage them. Here are five ways Cedar House’s Clinical Director Kathleen Smith recommends you can support your loved one while he or she begins the recovery journey:

1 – Educate yourself about addiction.

Addiction is a complex disease. If your loved one is struggling with substance use or co-occurring disorders, one of the most important steps you can take is educating yourself about their condition. Visit https://www.samhsa.gov/ and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/ to discover prolific research about a variety of health topics that can help you learn about their diagnosis and try to gain a better understanding of what your loved one may be thinking or feeling. In doing so, you’ll find that instead of being emotionally reactive or judgmental, you can take a more empathetic and thoughtful approach to supporting your loved one as they go through treatment. The more education you have the better you can help them succeed in recovery.

2 – Listen to understand.

The most vital skill for you to hone while your loved one is in treatment is listening. Whether you’ve been through treatment yourself, or have no experience with addiction, this is essential. Every situation is unique. Your loved one may be starting to develop a clearer picture of his/her disease and want to share these developments with you. If that is the case, be sure to listen with the intent to understand what they are going through versus listening to respond or react. This is an important distinction. Even though there may be continued conflict, your best move to begin repairing that relationship is to simply stop and listen.

3 – Attend family group sessions.

Family group sessions are an excellent tool for supporting your loved one and mending relationships. For clients whose relationship is not so volatile, we strongly encourage families to take advantage of this opportunity. The essence of family group is the power of learning together. You’ll uncover not only a better understanding of your loved one’s addiction, but also techniques that will be useful as you move forward together in recovery. In these bi-weekly evening sessions, we cover a variety of topics, including family roles and boundary setting for when clients are ready to return home.

4 – Take care of yourself.

Remember to take care of yourself. Management of your own behavior and boundaries is critical in your loved one’s early stages of recovery. While it’s key to learn that you can’t control how someone else will behave or react, you can take the important step of working on issues you may have to be sure you’re ready to be supportive. If you find that you are not ready, seek out individual counseling of your own while your family is getting counseling in their treatment program. Attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or other mental health support groups can help you to process your own trauma and reaction to addiction. Do not underestimate the importance of self-care.

5 – Commit to consistency.

Addiction is notably inconsistent. To counteract that challenge, prioritize consistent communication with your loved one. Schedule time to talk about how they are progressing. Make a commitment to call a few times a week or every day to check in for 10-15 minutes. This will give you an opportunity to hear about their day and learn more about their recovery, while also giving them another outlet for sharing. Following through with that commitment to practice communication in small doses is an instrumental part of their behavioral change. If possible, try to attend visiting hours when you can. Showing up in person to practice that interpersonal communication will make a significant difference in your relationship going forward.


Your efforts to support your family while they’re in treatment are integral to their success. By learning about addiction, listening to their needs, attending group sessions, practicing self-care, and committing to providing consistent communication, you are giving love and support in a meaningful way as they begin their new life in recovery.

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Weathering the Storm

Pinpointing the initial force that led someone down a destructive path can be impossible. The circumstances surrounding Bryanna’s addiction combined in a whirlwind of chaos that ultimately led to a perfect storm she knew she had to escape.

The events of Bryanna’s childhood contributed to self-destructive behavior at a young age. She was continuously molested as a very small child. As a result, she said, “I didn’t understand the ramifications of my unhealthy behavior. It lessens your sense of self-worth as a female.” In a series of damaging relationships as she looked for acceptance from the opposite sex, her teenage years were fraught with irrational actions and the beginnings of her chemical dependence. She was pregnant at the age of 19 and married at 21, but the young couple split when she found out she was expecting their second child.

Bryanna said, “I was looking for this type of love because I hadn’t learned that you have to love yourself. There will be turmoil and things that will surface in life. That’s why it’s so important to love yourself first.”

She started drinking more and spending more time in bars in her twenties. As a mother, she said, “This erratic behavior was not something my kids should have had to endure.”

What finally sent her overboard was the volatile relationship she had with the man she met four years after her divorce. He was abusive and compulsive in a way that Bryanna regretfully allowed at a time in her life when she frequently self-medicated. Her drinking got progressively worse, and together they began to occasionally use drugs as well. For a time, she was able to maintain a job even though she was often drinking before and during work. She and her then boyfriend would go out and behave irresponsibly; then he would get violent.

When she found out she was pregnant with her youngest son, Bryanna stopped drinking completely. She stayed sober until he was about three months old. That’s when she had to place a restraining order on his father and move on a regular basis to evade him. She said, “He would get extremely possessive.”

Eventually, he crept back into her life, and their drinking habits resumed. Bryanna found herself fighting her demons again. When she’d reflect on the time spent tolerating his abuse and not being present for her sons, she became angry with herself and would self-soothe with alcohol. She got to a point where she was drunk all the time and said, “It was just a big storm. Total destruction.”

After being kicked out of her house, Bryanna attempted rehab at different facilities seven times without much success. When she showed up to pick up her kids one day and was obviously drunk, her oldest son refused to go with her and called the police. With no where else to turn once she was released, she called her brother. He brought her to Cedar House.

Bryanna felt strongly about keeping her youngest son with her during her residential treatment, so together they moved into Maple House (Cedar House’s program for women with children) as soon as she completed withdrawal management. She opted not to tell his father where she was in hopes that she’d find success in her rehabilitation this time. He issued a court order while she was there and gained custody when she didn’t show up. This was the final straw that made her realize she had to complete her treatment and change her life.

She attributes much of her success at Maple House to the other women there with her at the time. She related well with her roommate and some of the other clients who were going through similar situations. She said, “They inspired me. We could talk each other through it. We convinced each other that we needed to give the program the time that it needed and see what tools we might gain.”

At Maple House, Bryanna learned the valuable lesson to “play the tape all the way through” and still weighs out all the possible outcomes before making a decision.

Once she finished the program, she moved into a sober living home with her youngest son and got a job with Sempra shortly after. She had an associates degree and the ability to learn quickly, so getting accustomed to her work in data entry came easily to her. She attended AA meetings regularly and continued to work on her relationship with her sons. She said, “They still love me and want to be in my life. I’m so thankful. Not everyone gets that reconciliation with their children.”

After nine months in sober living, she moved into her own place with all three of her children. Sempra hired her full time, and she has since been promoted to Corporate Account Analyst after assisting with the launch of a new department within SoCalGas. She also started her own business that helps small start-ups analyze and implement technology solutions. Later this year, she will graduate with her Bachelor’s Degree.

One of the most important lessons Bryanna learned on her path to recovery is the value of hope. She believes that we are all put here for a purpose, and it’s essential for people to find hope in their struggles. She said, “Like when steel is shaped from fire, I feel like that’s what I’ve been through. We have to always learn from what we experience to find our purpose.” Thanks to compassionate care and undeniable determination, Bryanna has weathered the storm and come through stronger than ever.

Rise above the storm

Top Workplace

The team at Cedar House is honored and grateful to be recognized as a Top Workplace in the Inland Empire. Our staff is dedicated to treating every client with dignity and respect. They exemplify our core values of excellence, passion, integrity and compassion. Being a part of this team provides employees with a special opportunity to participate fully in the Cedar House mission. This is what our employees had to say about the award:


“Cedar House is a great place to work because everyone is very compassionate with not only the clients but also with one another as coworkers.”


“Cedar House believes in promoting employees from within.  That can only be maintained at a high level if the employees are well trained.  This is the case.  Our leadership will not let us fail.”  


“There are so many positive benefits here. We are all treated with great respect. There is much camaraderie in this work place.”


“Cedar House has always treated its employees and clients like family and displayed sensitivity when their employees are faced with managing life outside of the workplace so that it’s employees can be focused while at work.” 


“For me to work at a Top Workplace is the best feeling since I went through the program, I know firsthand how well the program works. It makes me feel like I am doing my best while at work and in my everyday life.”      


“Cedar House is a great place to work due to our company feeling like a second family. The coworkers are very encouraging and helpful and are willing to go that extra mile to make sure your needs are met.”


“I love working at Cedar House Life Change Center.  It is a wonderful place to work. We are all a team here and work together to help addicts find a new way to live.”

Top Workplaces 2021
Top Workplaces 2021

Finding the Light

“She saw a light in me, and I’m forever grateful to her.”

When Kelli came to Cedar House amid the darkest days of her addiction, she couldn’t see the beautiful light within her. But her caring and compassionate case manager Salena could. In uncovering the rubble of Kelli’s depression and addiction, Salena discovered a spark of light and encouraged her to shine.

Kelli started drinking when she was fourteen years old after her parents divorced. At the age of sixteen, she was raped which triggered her drinking habit to worsen. She said, “I was partying every weekend. I didn’t want to feel, and drinking was my escape from reality.”

She made the decision to enlist in the US Army at the age of 24, but that plan was thwarted when she found out she was pregnant. Her drinking continued, and four months after her first son Micah was born, she found out she was pregnant with her second son Jonah. Kelli was a severely depressed, single mom. She said, “I felt hopeless, and I wanted to die.”

When she told her mother that she didn’t want to live anymore, Kelli was placed on her first 5150. While she was in the hospital, her youngest son’s father went to court, exaggerated her condition and got full custody of their 18-month-old son. After months of fighting with Jonah’s father, she was finally granted 50/50 custody back.

Kelli said, “In 2020, that’s when my drinking career took a turn for the worse. I was constantly arguing with my mom and Jonah’s father and his girlfriend. In September of 2020, I was ready to end my life. I called my sisters to let them know how I was feeling and was placed on my second 5150.”

That’s when she made the decision to enter into rehab. On September 25, 2020, she began residential treatment at Cedar House. She said, “I remember being terrified and scared and sad all at once, especially leaving my boys, but I also knew they didn’t deserve a mother like that.”

Regarding her time at Cedar House, Kelli said, “My case manager Salena was everything I could have hoped for in a situation like that. The staff were wonderful. They really helped me find my voice and myself again. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

Kelli graduated from Cedar House on November 27, 2020. In January, she gained custody of her younger son, but the battle continued with his abusive father. When the court decided against her when they reconvened in February, Kelli used the tools and techniques she learned at Cedar House to embrace the pain she was feeling. When she returned to court in March, she was able to prove that she had finished rehab and continued going to meetings. She was granted custody again and faithfully documented evidence going forward to ensure that she maintained full custody of Jonah to protect him from harm.

She said, “I truly believe God got me sober for this, to fight for my son and to be his voice. I had to fight for myself so I could fight for him. Just because you get sober doesn’t mean bad things aren’t going to happen to you, but you can have a new way of handling hard situations that I learned from rehab and AA.”

Kelli is now 16 months sober and is studying psychology in school. She is the secretary for her Wednesday night meetings and loves being of service. She said, “I love sharing my story because I want to give people hope.”

She offered this message to people battling addiction: “Don’t ever be afraid to fight for yourself because you never know who you’ll be fighting for. If you’re serious about change, get a sponsor, work those steps, go to a meeting. Today my boys are happy and healthy, and they are my why.”

Thinking Clearly

“What does Misty want?” That’s what Misty’s counselor asked as they worked through her addiction. With her judgement clouded by alcoholism, Misty struggled to pinpoint the answer. But over time, as she continued to work the program, she began to think clearly and discover the truth about what she wanted for her life.

Raised in a dysfunctional family, Misty was a lonely child. She was sexually abused as a young girl and fell into depression. During high school, her family moved around frequently, and she found herself using alcohol to numb her feelings. In her 20s, she was deep into the party scene, using alcohol not only as a comfort but also as a method to feel bold and glamorous. Misty said, “It was a comfort. It was my medicine. It gave me courage to talk and be bolder. I was wittier and prettier when I drank.”

But in retrospect, she said, “I didn’t realize how lonely I was.”

When her boyfriend went through AA, she discerned that her family had suffered with addiction when she was growing up but thought it would never happen to her. As she dipped deeper into her own alcoholism, she would lose her inhibitions and “confuse all kinds of things with love.”

Misty’s first husband was an abusive alcoholic. They had two children together, but Misty continued her drinking habits. She admits that she was a functioning alcoholic but didn’t realize it at the time. She was able to keep up with her job while drinking only after work and on weekends. She said, “It became an issue when I started having a drink before work. It became a necessity; my body needed it to keep going.”

That daily alcohol abuse lasted 4-6 years, and did a great deal of damage in her life. But she wasn’t thinking clearly. Even when she lost her job, Misty did not worry. She said, “Drinking takes your cares away and becomes your life.”

She became homeless when the house she was living in was sold. She said, “I didn’t care as long as I had more alcohol.” She became a bartender and bounced from place to place for a place to sleep.

Finally, she began to feel miserable when she was drinking. She said that she became a “mean drunk” and that suicide became a tempting alternative. After a couple of failed suicide attempts, she said, “I knew I had to quit but didn’t know how.” Fortunately, a doctor told her about the withdrawal management program at Cedar House.

For six days, she detoxed from alcohol at Cedar House, followed by another 106 days in the residential program. During that time, she said, “I learned so much of myself and why we turn to alcohol. It wasn’t just three hots and a cot for me.” She learned that she had developed a mental disorder in connection with her alcohol abuse and worked with her counselors to heal. About the staff at Cedar House, Misty said she was most impressed with “their understanding of the disease; their knowledge; their experience; and their ability to pinpoint where I needed to start.”

She felt safe at Cedar House and worried about “what’s going to happen when I get home.” After graduating from the program, she made an effort to rearrange her room and her life when she went home. When she found herself starting to get complacent, she went to a meeting her friend was leading. From then on, she has gone to a meeting every day. She said, “You can only take it one day at a time. You have to truly work the program. I am definitely a changed person.”

Misty’s Case Manager Salena gave her a packet with information on feelings and emotions when she was at Cedar House that Misty continued to refer to for answers. She knew that the question: “what does Misty want?” was an important one that she needed to learn to answer by understanding her own feelings. She said, “Those questions are hard when you’ve been clouded.” She is proud to say that a year later, by taking it one day at a time, she is a changed woman who is thinking clearly.

Misty

Blessed by the Program

When Tammy reflected on her Cedar House experience, she said that she has been “blessed by this program since day one.” The program took her from a deep addiction to methamphetamines and opiate pills to a new life where she is able to support other women suffering in a similar way.

Tammy grew up around drugs and alcohol. She entered the foster system at age 13 and spent her teenage years in and out of foster homes and juvenile hall. She started using meth and drinking every day. For more than 37 years, Tammy suffered with substance use disorder. During those years, she not only spent time in county jail and prison, but she also lost her children which drove her deeper into her addiction.

Tammy came to Cedar House on April 15, 2019. She said, “This was the best decision I have ever made for myself.” After two weeks in the withdrawal management program, she began residential treatment for 90 days. At Cedar House, Tammy learned about her addiction and how drugs affected her brain. She learned about the release of dopamine and endorphins and about how long it takes to recreate new neural paths in her brain. She learned coping skills and grounding techniques as well as how to identify red flags in her life. In addition, she was able to reconcile her trauma and PTSD from childhood. She said, “Today I have 2 years 3 months and 18 days clean and sober.” Before treatment, she had not been able to stay clean for more than 18 months which was during the time she was incarcerated.

Cedar House hired Tammy as a Perinatal Support Specialist in 2021, and she enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor. Since graduating she has taken her recovery very seriously by regularly attending Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and staying connected to her sponsor and sponsor family. She said, “I have taken what I have learned from this program and have changed into a positive and responsible woman who loves living life clean and sober. I have found a new way of living. I love Cedar House and all the staff here. I have been blessed by this program since day one.”    

She found a new life in her recovery and was happy to share, “Today my children and three beautiful grandchildren are in my life, and we all have a beautiful relationship. My children have forgiven me for my past and are proud of me. We now go bowling, camping, amusement parks, and fishing together. I am so blessed with where I am in my life today. I am thankful to my higher power and to Cedar House and to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.”

Tammy

Keeping the Faith

“I would have never thought I’d be where I am today. I rely on God, and I believe Cedar House is where it all started.”

Joe came to Cedar House “hungry for change”. He was tired of living a life filled with drugs and alcohol. His life was consumed with fighting, breaking promises, and feeling miserable. 

“It was really terrible. Every time I drank, I wanted to fight. I turned into a different person.” 

Several DUIs, broken relationships and severe injuries later, Joe was blessed with a family intervention. His sister and brother-in-law came to his house to encourage him to seek treatment for his addiction. Joe surrendered and decided it was time to change his life. 

Initially, though, Joe struggled with beginning rehab. His first attempt at entering treatment was foiled when he got drunk on the way and missed his appointment. Once he was admitted to Cedar House’s residential program, he found himself wanting to leave and resisting change. He said, “I had the mentality that no one could tell me anything.” 

But all that changed once he was able to see clearly, change his ways, and learn about his faith. 

“What touched my heart and changed my life was when they brought people to share their stories. I thought, ‘I want to do that. I want to come back and tell my story.’”

After one month and 34 days, Joe graduated from Cedar House and continued his spiritual journey. He began attending church regularly and getting involved in a recovery group ministry. His newfound faith and sobriety gave him a new lease on life and greatly impacted his family dynamic. He became “the light and the bridge” for his family with consistent prayer and support.

“I love learning and reading the word of God.”

He also enrolled at Valley College to pursue a career as a drug counselor and graduated from Leadership University at his church. In both, Joe is able to share his testimony with others suffering with addiction. He’s honored to fulfill that mission as part of his recovery and his faith.

“I’m fully committed to God. I want God to use me fully to help more people.”

– “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found.” – Luke 15:32

Joe

Finding Herself

From a sheltered child to a rebellious young adult, Donna’s upbringing sounds typical, until we dig a little deeper. In spite of the challenges she faced, her strong will and moral compass gave her the strength she needed to find herself and overcome her addiction.

Growing up in Fontana since the age of ten, Donna was the oldest of three. That meant she was typically required to be responsible and helpful. Despite that position, she found herself struggling with low self-esteem, insecurity and a constant fear that she would get in trouble. The Air Force recruited her after high school, and she began boot camp. Soon after, she was sent home on medical discharge because of her flat feet. This sent her spiraling into a stint of rebellion. But even with those innate insecurities and defiant attitude, Donna was not interested in drugs or alcohol. She said, “I liked being in control of my own faculties.” 

A year and a half after being discharged from the Air Force, Donna met her ex-husband. Not only was he physically and verbally abusive, but he was also an alcoholic and a drug addict. They had a son together, and her ex continued to abuse her. When the baby was six months old, his father abused Donna so badly that he was arrested and spent the next two months in jail. At this point, Donna’s parents began to threaten to take the child from her, causing her to feel caught between losing her son and staying with her abusive husband.

One day when their son was about two years old they were packing to move, and her husband convinced her to try a line of speed. Her life changed immediately. When she was high, she had the false sense that somehow she was in control of her thinking and more productive.

“I was instantly addicted. After that, I lost years.”

In the next five years, they had three more children while Donna was in the depths of her addiction. She found herself in a vicious cycle of being abused and using meth. She tried an outpatient program in 2000 and was able to stay clean for three years. During that time, she gave birth to her youngest daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy. 

“I thank God everyday that she was born. I was meant to be her mother. My job is to make her life the best possible life for her.”

It wasn’t long after her daughter’s birth that “the perfect storm came.” Donna’s struggles with her abusive husband and lack of family support sent her back down a dark path. From October 2003 to October 2004, her world was in turmoil. With three toddlers at home and two older children in school, she found herself falling deeper into her addiction. Her ex-husband was frequently traveling as a truck driver, which left her alone at night to smoke. One of her darkest memories was looking into the bowl she was smoking and thinking to herself, ‘I wonder if I smoke this whole thing if it will it kill me.’ She remembers a time when her small children were banging on her bedroom door needing her attention, and, by the time she opened the door, the kids were asleep just outside her bedroom. So much time was lost. There were many days when she would send them to school with dirty clothes and faces then sleep for 18 hours at a time.

Finally, Donna’s mother showed up at her home and took the children with her. By the end of the week, Donna joined them at her parents’ house. Her husband had informed her parents about her addiction and where she hid her stash. This enabled her parents to confront her directly and demand that she seek help.

“I realized I was just so tired; I was done.”

With the combined efforts of her parents, her brother and her husband, she was admitted to Cedar House on Tuesday and went begrudgingly. The first meeting she attended that night was an NA meeting with a guest speaker who told a story that Donna completely related to. 

“It’s like he told my story. I realized this is where I need to be. These people understand me. I embraced it.”

Her counselors guided her through the process to recovery, giving her the tools she needed to stay clean and be a better mother to her children. 

“I appreciate all my time there. It was a good four weeks.”

When she left Cedar House, she immediately started building on that foundation. She entered a perinatal program, went to NA meetings early in the morning and again in the evenings. Her ex continued to drink and abuse her, and she knew she had to “find an exit.” With the help of her brother and newfound family in recovery, she was able to break up with him and move on with her life.

After some soul searching, Donna found her passion. She enrolled at the Art Institute and graduated with her AA in 2012. She channeled her creativity and love of baking into creating unique cakes and artwork. She started her own business making pixel art and found success networking in the Fontana community.

“It’s really fun. My biggest thrill is watching other people enjoy what I’ve created.”

Donna

Setting Goals to Make an Impact

“The biggest thing they did for me at Maple House was teach me how to set goals and accomplish them.”

Over the years, Stephanie has set goal after goal for herself and, as a result, has impacted so many people. With each achievement, she found herself wanting to make more of a difference for individuals, families and communities. What began as a goal to get her education and pay it forward in recovery developed into serving people in need at the local, county and now at the state level.

At the age of 16, Stephanie found herself addicted to drugs and struggling to get by. She was homeless at 18, dealing drugs and living in an abusive relationship. 

“I was a meth addict. I lost my whole family. I lost everybody and everything.”

When she became a mother, she carried on with the same bad habits until forced to go into rehab to avoid prison time. Even with no drive or expectations that she would complete the program successfully, Stephanie did what she needed to do. Ultimately, it turned out to be much more than a court mandate for her. Her innate work ethic and ambition took over once she had an opportunity to see things clearly. 

For almost 50 years, Cedar House has been known in the community as a “good place to start.” That was certainly true for Stephanie. Cedar House changed her life for the better by instilling hope in her, educating her on how to stay clean and teaching her to set goals for herself. 

Life at Maple House with her son taught Stephanie that she needed to make some significant changes to be the mother her son needed her to be. She learned life skills and parenting skills there that she never even realized she lacked. From there, she was able to become a responsible mother and begin to see new opportunities for herself on the horizon. Setting small, manageable goals became a key part of her life.

“Little things turned into big things.”

The staff at Cedar House knew she wanted to change her life and recommended that she apply for a receptionist position there. She got the job and found herself wanting more. While working in reception and living in Cedar House’s transitional housing, Stephanie was inspired by the staff to pursue her education. She enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College and graduated with her Associates Degree in Human Services in 2008. 

“I didn’t have a lot of opportunities because of my record. If it wasn’t for those opportunities Cedar House gave me, I wouldn’t have been able to succeed.”

She began working for Mental Health Systems, Inc. as a case manager and regularly attending NA meetings. The turning point came when she was able to realize the potential she had to make an impact when she combined her work ethic with her empathy for clients in need.

“I believe in people. It’s great to inspire hope in people.”

At that point, she set a new goal for herself, and by 2013, Stephanie graduated with her BA in Human Services and began working for San Bernardino County as a contract monitor. In that position, she ensured that people were getting the treatment they needed.

In 2018, she graduated with her Masters in Public Administration from Cal State, achieving another tremendous goal. She moved to Sacramento this March to join a team that analyzes government programs. 

The staff at Cedar House has continued to work closely with Stephanie over the years and is incredibly proud of her growth and development as a leader in the substance abuse/mental health field. She attributes much of her success to the lessons she learned at Cedar House and the faith they had in her ability to achieve her goals.

Tony Robbins quote

Fierce Encouragement

The harsh reality of Zehara’s upbringing came to light when she came to Maple House. She said that her “inner child was crying out for help.” She recalled that, at the age of 11, a classmate noticed bruises from the abuse she was receiving at home. A teacher got involved, and, before she knew it, Zehara and her siblings were taken away from their home. Throughout middle school and high school, she fought with other students and got into trouble frequently. By the age of sixteen, she was pregnant with her first child. She had another child when she turned 21 and moved into a home for single mothers. The second baby’s father asked her to move in with him in Barstow, and so she did. His mother, a drug addict, also lived with them. Even when Zehara and her boyfriend broke up, she still spent time with his mother. One day, Zehara said she was “bored and curious,” and this woman introduced her to meth.

“She handed me my first pipe. From that moment, I was hooked.”

               She started smoking meth every day. Soon after, she got involved with a man who was nearly 50 years old. He was an addict and a dealer. Her addiction escalated, and she went from smoking to needles. She would leave her kids with his mom and spend all her time on the streets with him selling and using drugs.

               After she gave birth to her third child, she was able to stay clean for a couple of months. One day, the newborn had a seizure, and they rushed him to the hospital. The doctors found meth in the child’s system, and he was taken into CPS custody. Zehara suspects that his grandmother must have smoked near the baby because she was staying sober at the time. Next, CPS took her other two children, and Zehara started using again.

“When they took my kids, I went downhill.”

              She confessed that she used drugs continuously during this time. Even when she had to pass a drug test to continue visitation with her children, she used someone else’s urine to get by. Eventually, she stopped going to get tested altogether. She said, “That’s when the once-a-week visitation turned into once-a-month because I kept messing up.”

             When she got pregnant again, she said, “Time was ticking. They were going to adopt my kids out. I was still using drugs, but I’ll be damned if they’ll take my baby.” With that newfound determination, Zehara came to Maple House, but she feared that she had waited too long to get her kids back.

“I had it in my head that they were going to take my baby. So what’s the point of getting help. What am I doing this for?”

              The more discouraged she got, the more her case managers would push her to stay focused on her goals. They reminded her that she needed to get sober for herself. She said, “I lost hope, but Maple House kept encouraging me. I learned so much about myself. My inner child was crying out for help, and my inner self got help. I got a lot of things answered about myself. Maple House really pushed me. I didn’t give up.”

                After completing 118 days of treatment, Zehara moved into a transitional home for six months. Now, Zehara lives with two of her children in her own apartment in Redlands, and she has reconnected with her family who have been a strong support system for her in recovery. She will receive her high school diploma in two weeks from Redlands Adult School and hopes to one day work at Cedar House. 

              Zehara reflected on her experience: “I was young, dumb, naïve. I dated a drug dealer for 6 years. I didn’t pay attention to my kids. Maple House gave me a whole different view of life and taught me to keep moving forward.”

“If it wasn’t for Maple House, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t think I was worthy. Maple House changed my life.”

Zehara