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.


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.”


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


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.”


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.”


Quality Problems

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of stress to get things back that we lost, but these are quality problems to have.”

Nowadays that is the message Jim shares with clients at the recovery center where he works. He enjoys interacting with the clients and sharing his experience because of his great appreciation for how far he has come in his own recovery journey. 

Jim’s struggles with addiction started about ten years ago. After long days at a stressful job in the medical field doing lab work frequently from a coroner’s office, he would drink to unwind and erase the disturbing images he had seen throughout the day. 

“It progressed to a more constant thing. It really took hold after a while. I needed it every day.”

As his alcoholism worsened, his relationships became strained. He attempted treatment for the first time in 2011 but only maintained his sobriety for about nine months. The next year, his wife left him. After that, Jim managed to “keep it together for the most part” as a single dad, but drinking continued to be a part of his life.

Another pinnacle came in 2017 when Jim got a DUI. He went back to treatment for thirty days, but immediately returned to his old habits. His wife came back and took their kids with her. This sent Jim back into treatment hopeful that a different facility would make a difference for him. It did not. After 90 days of treatment, he got out in September and started drinking again a month later.

The following year when his kids came for a visit, he drank the whole time. He had gotten to the point of drinking a gallon of whiskey a day. When he showed up in his parents’ driveway one afternoon, he was inebriated and said things that led them to call the sheriff’s office and have him admitted in Arrowhead Regional Psychiatric Ward. After eight days there, his social worker through the Department of Behavioral Health had him admitted in the Men’s Residential Program at Cedar House.

November 2, 2018 was Jim’s first day at Cedar House. He stayed for 111 days and has maintained sobriety ever since.

After his other failed attempts at treatment, why was Cedar House different? He says it was the caring staff and family atmosphere he found there. His case manager Michael connected with him and even nominated him to be “Res. Pres.” 

“I’ve always been a people person but was never really given the opportunity. I started to really care about the other guys.”

He followed his case manager’s example. He respected his approach to treatment and could see that being of service in recovery was a key to sustaining it.

“I really took to heart all the tools I was learning.”

He sought out a sober living facility after graduating from Cedar House on February 2, 2019. He became House Manager a few months later then began working as a landscaper for a children’s foundation. When he got a phone call from a childhood friend offering him a job at a treatment center in Corona, he knew it was the right move. Now, Jim is happily employed as an Admissions Coordinator where he can give back to the recovery community. He has been reunited with his daughter after several years apart. With 22 months clean, Jim still has daily stress and struggles, but now he perceives these challenges that life hands him as “quality problems” to have as he holds tight to his loved ones with gratitude and dedication to recovery.


The Company She Kept

As a teenager, Sabrina overcame the challenges of bouncing around numerous foster and group homes, frequently being rejected for her sexuality. She emancipated from the system and prepared herself to start school. The company she kept, unfortunately, led her down a dark path instead.

The young woman with whom Sabrina had a relationship since the age of 15 was a drug addict. She used meth on a regular basis and tried to convince Sabrina to join her. Sabrina wasn’t interested. As a matter of fact, she argued with her girlfriend time and again begging her not to use. But, ultimately, there came a time when Sabrina lost that argument and was persuaded to try using meth herself.

She was living in a group home in Pasadena when it happened. Sabrina said, “I can’t count how many group homes and foster homes I had lived in.” Her girlfriend and roommate surprised her by using meth in her room while she was in the shower. She said, “I was scared of meth. I wouldn’t touch it.” When she entered the room and saw that they were using, they fought for a long time before her girlfriend finally said, “If you love me, you’ll try it.” And that was the final straw. 

Shortly after that first experience with meth, Sabrina and her girlfriend, both addicted, were kicked out of the group home. She was homeless, hadn’t started school and was barely getting by with cash aid and food stamps. Even at times when Sabrina wasn’t interested in getting high, her girlfriend would manipulate her into using. 

Sabrina lived under a bridge on a binge in Pomona for three years. During that time, she met up with an old boyfriend which led to an unexpected pregnancy. She said, “I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I went into labor. I was so high and so skinny.” 

The paramedics immediately took the baby girl away, but that was a turning point for Sabrina.

“I fought tooth and nail to get her back.” 

Her social worker asked if she would be willing to go to rehab in order to gain custody of the baby, and Sabrina wholeheartedly agreed. She called everyday to inquire about getting into a residential program. In March 2018, she was admitted to the Maple House program. She simply wasn’t ready. During her stay at Maple House, she was rude, disobedient and angry. By May she had made very little progress, and her behavior led to her dismissal from the program.

A few months later, she entered another rehab program where she served as kitchen coordinator and began to make some progress toward sobriety. She got in trouble there for breaking rules and was dismissed from that program as well. Next, she tried an outpatient program and continued staying clean and sober. She moved into a sober living facility. When one of her drug tests came out questionable, she had to leave that home, too. 

“I ended up losing my home and losing faith again. I went back to the streets in Pomona.”

On February 21, 2019, her social worker managed to get her back into the treatment program at Maple House. This time she was ready. She loved her counselors and learned so much from them. 

“They really helped me through it. Rosanna opened my mind. Rita taught me to cook and gave great advice. They were always there to listen, and they motivated me to do good. I could talk to them instead of getting angry.”

At Maple House, Sabrina learned the importance of surrounding herself with kind-hearted people who not only care about her, but also continuously build her up to be the woman she was born to be.  She has been sober for nearly two years and is the proud mother of two young girls.


A Life Changing Year

“When I look back at 2020, it wasn’t a bad year. It was life changing for me.”

With no real support structure or authority figure in her life, Erica dropped out of school in 8th grade. A few years later, when her mother was $49 short on rent, they were evicted from their apartment and became homeless. At the age of 18, Erica moved from place to place with her mother seeking shelter anywhere they could find it. 

“The environment was bad. I tried to adapt to it, trying to fit in.”

That’s when her addiction to meth began. She said, “That drug destroyed my life.”

Erica tried numerous times to get clean. She entered different rehab programs, but always returned to the same people and the same bad habits. When she gave birth to her first baby, and the baby tested positive for meth, she managed to stay clean for a few weeks. But it didn’t last. After having another baby born positive for meth, she knew she had to make a change. She knew that one more dirty drug test would mean she would lose her girls permanently. 

After 25 days of staying clean in outpatient, she was able to enter the Cedar House residential program on February 28.

“I went in knowing I had to survive 90 days. I did it with my head held high.”

Erica maintained a positive attitude during treatment. She knew this time needed to be different. She learned that “30 days can change a habit, but 90 days can change your life.”

Six months later, Erica was reunited with her baby girls. Now, she lives in transitional housing and owns her own car. 

“I’m a whole person now. Cedar House taught me to move forward and accept the consequences.”

Erica has been clean for a year now. Yes, that means she got clean during the pandemic. What a remarkable challenge! It’s one that Cedar House has helped hundreds of people take on and conquer over the past 12 months. 

“I think it’s a blessing that Cedar House never closed because there are a million people out there in need.”


Keep on Trucking

Robert’s story is unlike any other. With a dark, violent past, he struggled to see a future without drugs. But after 90 days at Cedar House in 2013, he has built a successful trucking business and is a proud father.

Eight years ago, Robert’s life was out of control. 

“The addiction was a struggle for me. I couldn’t get up in the morning without doing dope.”

He was up to a quarter ounce of meth a day and couldn’t stop. His wife of 13 years was also an addict, and, according to Robert, their marriage was “nothing but violence and drugs.”

When Robert caught her cheating, he said he “went over the edge.” He received a felony charge for threatening to kill her, but, because of a mental health diagnosis, he was released into the care of Cedar House through the STAR (Supervised Treatment After Release) program.

“They welcomed me like I was part of the family.”

His experience at Cedar House truly changed him. He could finally see a way out of the dangerous lifestyle he had known for so long.

“They really cared for me. They showed me a different way of life that I really wanted.”

After completing treatment, Robert began working at a casino but wanted to pursue a different career path. He called a trucking company that was hiring and got declined because they saw a felony on his record. He went straight to the courthouse to prove that it was not accurate, and they hired him a few hours later. His life was on track until he re-married a woman who unfortunately was an alcoholic, and this marriage was also a struggle.

“I wanted so many times to do drugs again but didn’t.”

Finally, he made the decision to leave the relationship and move to Arizona. A few years later, he went to CRST Trucking School and earned his Class A license. Six months later, he bought his first truck. Robert is now an owner/operator of his own business. He bought a house in Laughlin, Nevada, and is in a new, healthy relationship.

Through his earlier challenges, Robert lost custody of his daughter, but, after eight years, he has re-connected and hopes to re-gain custody soon. His 21-year-old son pitches for his university’s baseball team, and Robert couldn’t be prouder. 

He recently paid a visit to Cedar House to share his success and thank his former case manager, Michael Harang.

“I had been through life-long drugs before Cedar House. Michael was the best person. He lifted me up.”