Looking Back Update
It’s been one year since we first shared Brenda’s story. We caught up with her to see how things were going. She’s still receiving treatment with THS and still enjoying working with Paula. As Brenda says; “Paula is still my favorite person…I love her dearly, we get along like real family members, we get along great.” Brenda is healthy and well, still loving all the good things life has blessed her with since she stopping using. Read on or click the video above to hear Brenda’s story and how she knew it was time to stop, to seek help, and start her recovery.
It Starts Small
One of the scariest aspects of opioid use is how easily it can slip into your life and change it forever. What’s worse, you can become addicted after taking just a few pills. Sometimes you’re hooked after being on pain medication for a small injury. Something sends you to the doctor: a broken toe, a sprained wrist, wisdom teeth removal. You’re sent home with a prescription: oxycodone, hydrocodone or codeine. You take your medication and before you know it the bottle’s empty and your body is craving more.
That’s how it was for Brenda, a patient of Therapeutic Health Services’ Shoreline Branch. Brenda was prescribed pain-killers because of a toothache. She would never guess she’d become dependent on them so quickly. As Brenda puts it, she never took the drugs to get high, she took them because her body needed it.
Brenda described most of her days when she was using as staying at home and popping pills, hardly doing anything for most the day. Brenda wasn’t trapped alone, her husband also developed an addiction. Together they wasted day after day taking pills at home. It wasn’t long before they found themselves buying pills off a drug dealer. It’s difficult to imagine: a grandmother, a servant of her faith, a kind woman, buying drugs on the street at prices that broke her life.
Time to Stop
Eventually Brenda reached a point when she disconnected from the person looking back at her in the mirror. Brenda describes herself as a fashionable, attractive person, but reflection showed she was losing that spark. That’s when she and her husband decided they were done. They were done with the constant cycle of buying and taking drugs and wasting days doing little else. Brenda and her husband connected to a methadone provider and started their recovery. Brenda says it saved their lives.
Recovery isn’t instantaneous, for many it’s a long and difficult process. Brenda and her husband are still in recovery. Brenda came to Therapeutic Health Services’ Shoreline Branch six years ago, and her quality of life as seen a huge boost since entering treatment. Brenda is proud of herself again, she gets out of the house and spends time doing what she loves, like spending time shopping and engaging with her church community No longer trapped by her addiction Brenda is free again something she says, you can’t put a price on.
What Tomorrow Brings
Brenda is deeply grateful for the care she has received and for the peace her treatment has provided her. Brenda thanks “Jesus for her recovery, for Therapeutic Health Services, her counselor Paula Wolfe, and for the creator of methadone therapy and medication assisted treatment.” Brenda feels that these forces saved her life and she is grateful for them.
Support Those in Need
Brenda’s story is unique, but it echoes the stories of so many in our community who struggle with opioid addiction. With our region and nation in the throes of an opioid epidemic, your support is needed now more than ever. Your contribution to THS gives us the power to provide quality, effective treatment to more people like Brenda. This is what counts: saving lives and creating new futures. Join us and donate today.
We had a chance to check-in with Betty, a patient of Summit/Seneca Branch whose story we told a year ago in a patient story video. Betty is doing well and staying healthy in this time of uncertainty. Betty is in the high-risk group for Covid-19, but her local neighbor community has really rallied around the challenge and she and her neighbors are getting help picking up groceries and such. As Betty puts it, she’s really thriving right now. She hasn’t seen too much difference from her regular routine and luckily both she and her family are well. Betty wanted to share about her new volunteer job she’ll be starting soon where she’ll be visiting patients at Swedish Hospital and providing communion for those who request it. Her faith and her volunteerism are a big part of who she is and Betty is grateful to have the opportunity to serve others where and when she can. If you haven’t heard her story or if you’d like to catch-up, you can click the video above or read below to hear about how Betty has spent years with the support and care she’s needed at THS.
The First Thing You Need to Know About Addiction Recovery
Is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery can take many years and even after a long period of sobriety, relapse is always a possibility. Betty is a patient at Therapeutic Health Service’s Summit Branch. Her story of recovery highlights the time it can take to reach recovery and what it takes to get there.
Betty Became a Patient of THS in 1981
She was 30 and pregnant with her daughter. Betty had been addicted to heroin for several years. She was in need of real help. At that time methadone was just starting to be used in the long-term treatment of opiate addiction. Previously Betty had tried a 21-day detox program that used methadone, a new treatment at the time. “It was a three-week program, so there was no time for counseling and other issues in your life. It was very hard to get the benefit of methadone in such a short time” Betty recalled. “A lot of treatment goes along with methadone. It’s your mind, body, and soul, all those have to be addressed and that takes time.”
Betty’s Addiction Was a Traumatic Experience
When asked what she remembers of that time, Betty said “Before I got on methadone I was totally lost. I had a habit and I didn’t know what to do about it, I just know I didn’t want it. Every moment is spent trying to figure out what you’re going to do for your next fix.” For Betty, methadone provided the stabilization she needed to move past her addiction.
The relief was just…Even the first day the relief was just…amazing. Just knowing I didn’t have to do things I didn’t want to do. I probably would not go to prison for the rest of my life. I could start rebuilding a life. Methadone was a real miracle for me.– Betty Hopper, THS Patient
Now 68 and Retired
Betty is living the kind of life she always wanted to. She exercises regularly, lives in a beautiful, no-fuss apartment and is heavily involved with her church. Betty helps her church community in a number of different ways, including helping at their regular homeless feed. Knowing she can help others, provide treats, and study her faith means the world to Betty. Her recovery through time has made these things possible.
Betty Wants Others to Know That Methadone Isn’t a Way to Get High, It’s a Way to Get Well
I’d love for methadone treatment to be destigmatized. It’s really important to me because it’s affected my life so much. The perception is so opposite what’s really happening at these clinics. If people realized what we really do here, they would have a whole different view of methadone clinics. We have real treatment. We have groups, we have counselling, we have doctors, we have all kinds of outreach programs available through the clinic that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
– Betty Hopper, THS Patient
Betty Receives Daily Methadone Treatment
Through a low-level maintenance dose. This helps her have peace of mind as she goes about her day. She’s seen the benefits of treatment through time. Having been sober for 20 years, Betty looks forward to growing old with grace knowing she has the support she needs.
Thanks to Methadone and Regular Counseling
Therapeutic Health Services has been helping people like Betty recover from addiction to opiates for nearly 50 years. Recovery through time has improved and through their efforts, thousands of people have recovered from addiction. Each day the care staff at Therapeutic Health Services is helping people to create the lives they want to live.
We Hope That You Will Join Us
In supporting the recovery of hundreds of people like Betty. With your support, people in need can take their next step in moving past addiction and into a brand new life. Please show your support and donate, you’ll be part of creating a new tomorrow, today.
The story below was originally posted in April of 2019. We want everyone to know about Debra and her story of overcoming a lifetime of addiction and health struggles, to create the life she always wanted.
A Hard Start
Debra had a hard start in life. She was born addicted to heroin, her parents were both users before she was born. At the age of 13, Debra decided she was going to try heroin. Debra asked her father to shoot her up. He begged her not to. Debra told him, that if he didn’t give it to her, she’d go find someone who would. So he shot his 13-year-old daughter up with heroin. Debra had been addicted for decades until she began treatment at Therapeutic Health Services.
Treatment and Recovery
Debra has been a patient receiving Medication Assisted Treatment (methadone) at Therapeutic Health Services’ Shoreline branch for two years. For the last year, Debra has been completely clean from heroin for the last year. Her cravings being managed by her medication-assisted treatment and she is exploring the underlying cause of her addiction through regular meetings with her counselor.
Recovery has opened a new door for Debra. She was recently cured of Hepatitis C. Debra had been trying to get the cure for quite some-time after the treatment was released. The problem was she was frequently relapsing into heroin use and would have to continually restart the treatment process. She remembers feeling frustrated with herself and her condition. Debra had a path to being free from the disease, but her addiction was a barrier. Finally, with the help of Medication Assisted Treatment and her counselor, Paula Wolf, Debra was able to complete the process and is now 100% Hepatitis free. Debra fought hard to overcome this horrid disease, which claimed the lives of both her parents.
Loss of her Husband
The last year has been incredibly challenging for Debra. She lost her husband in April of 2018. He died from complications from methamphetamine use. As she puts it “he was putting it in his morning coffee each day.” Debra was devastated and it was this pain that helped her commit to becoming clean
Having sold her and her husband’s home, she found herself without a place to live. Living with addiction for most her life had a negative impact on Debra’s relationship with her family. With no other place to go, she showed up at her son’s house and said, “I know I haven’t always been good a mother to you. I know I wasn’t there for you when you needed me,” He welcomed her into his home without hesitation and she’s been there since.
Today and Tomorrow
Debra is now living each day as best she can. She’s involved in her church and has been trying to find ways of being helpful within her faith community. Her hope now is to find a way of using up her time. “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” she said. Debra knows the key to preventing her relapse in the future will be working hard on her treatment plan goals, staying involved, and finding pro-social activities that support her recovery.
Recovery can be a long and challenging road. There is no cure for addiction and like most chronic illnesses, it needs to be managed for life. Care at Therapeutic Health Services recognizes this. Our team understands that patients need time to heal and move past their addictions at the pace that’s right for them. Now that Debra is clean, she can start working on finding herself, discovering who she is when she’s not using heroin. Our team is there with her, every step of the way.
Support Those in Need
To support patients in recovery, like Debra, please consider donating today. Help give people struggling with addiction, the support they need to restore their lives and rebuild their futures.
Kelly’s story, sadly, is one we’ve heard too often before. She grew up in a home where her parents often did drugs, started using meth as a teenager and ran into trouble with the law at a young age. As an alternative to jail time, she entered into the King County Drug Court program, where eligible defendants (generally low-level and non-violent offenders) can choose to receive substance use treatment instead of going to trial. Upon successful graduation from the two year program, charges may be reduced or dismissed. As the main provider of King County Adult Drug Court Services, Therapeutic Health Services (THS) works directly with the courts providing intensive drug, alcohol and mental health treatment, case management, life skills training, employment and educational services, pro-social activities, and community reintegration for court-involved individuals. Drug Court creates a non-adversarial courtroom atmosphere where the judge and a team of people including prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, case managers and THS treatment staff work together toward the common goal of breaking the cycle of drug abuse and criminal behavior. Kelly graduated the program and spent several years clean and sober.
Old Issues Creep Back In
Recovery is a lifelong process, and sometimes relapses happen. Kelly started using alcohol heavily several years after graduating the Drug Court program. As she puts it, “I was like a half gallon a day alcoholic. I think I spent like two years in a blackout.” Soon, Kelly turned to heroin, “I started just smoking it a little bit at first and started drinking less and less and less and I thought that was a good thing. I thought the alcohol was killing me and it just felt better to be doing heroin…it was just a little bit and then it became more and more and then it got more and more expensive.” Kelly’s habit became so expensive, that she started committing crimes to cover her costs; “We were stealing cars and breaking into houses and [committing] burglaries and all kinds of stuff to get the drugs.” Kelly was arrested and was facing significant jail time, but she remembered the King County Drug Court program. With a young daughter at home, she wanted to re-enter treatment and finally try to put addiction behind her.
Eager to Change
The second time around, Kelly was a King County Drug Court rock star. The program is rigorous. Random drug tests are performed at least twice per week. Participants meet with their counselors for individual or group counseling sessions a minimum of one to two times per week. They attend sober support meetings weekly, complete community service and appear before a judge at least monthly. Kelly spent each day getting up early and participating in groups and individual counseling sessions for most of her day. Kelly remembers this time in her life as being intense, but critical to establishing the sobriety she has now. Kelly feels that “Everything Drug Court does, they do it for a reason. You know, you need to step back away from everything else you’re doing. You’ve got to make your whole world and your whole life about recovery. I think Drug Court drives until you’re able to do it yourself.”
Earning Every Day
Four years on now and happily clean and sober, Kelly is a hard-working restaurant manager and life is going well for her. Kelly really connects with her job and she’s been growing in her role, taking on new responsibilities and being rewarded for her hard work. Kelly values the skills she’s acquired at THS. As she puts it, “I’ve learned about productivity and how to set and meet labor goals. I think I’ve learned a lot from this place about managing, you know, and I think I can take that with me anywhere…I’m grateful for that.” Recently, Kelly and her daughter took a trip to Disneyland, a trip she has been promising for many years. They both enjoyed the rides, the food, and all the fireworks each night. Kelly had to spend a year saving up for the trip and she knows it was worth it.
Great Things to Come
Kelly has even more great things planned. “Right now, I’m looking forward to the future. I want to buy a house and I do this positive thinking thing. I think in my head what it’s going to look like. It’s exciting, you know, to be able to do that.”
In 2016, THS was able to collaborate with the producers of PBS’ Frontline series on a documentary entitled “Chasing Heroin.” Many of the people featured in the documentary are THS patients. The documentary also outlines how over-prescription of opioids led to the current national epidemic. This vivid and compelling film shows the despair of heroin users and how Seattle-based agencies and community members are working to serve these people in need.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (Methadone, Suboxone®)
As seen in the document, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a form of treatment used to address opioid use and help an individual to stop using opioids. Patients in the MAT program at THS receive services towards wellness and prevention. These services include assessments, medical evaluations, medication management, case management, and individual and group counseling. THS uses both Methadone and Suboxone® as well as Vivitrol® in medication-assisted treatment. To connect to MAT and opioid use treatment, visit our MAT Get Help form here.
King County Drug Court
Featured prominently in this documentary, King County Drug Court is one of THS’ flagship programs. Operating as a partnership with King County, Drug Court is unique in that it depends upon a non-adversarial courtroom atmosphere. The judge and a team of people including prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, case managers and THS treatment staff work together toward the common goal of breaking the cycle of drug abuse and criminal behavior.
When you talk with Scott, you hear a guy that knows his mind and can explain where he’s coming from. With every question his response breaks down his experience and tells his story. He makes it easy to relate to each of his challenges and the hard work it took to overcome them. Scott started using heroin when he was 15. He didn’t achieve sobriety until age 38.
“I’ve been going at it since I was 15. Got into a car accident, got prescribed Oxycontin, got caught going to multiple doctors, they took them away, then got introduced to heroin at a young age. It’s the same story a lot of people have. They get into painkillers and bam.”– Scott
Burning Out, Year by Year
Heroin addiction was hard on Scott. His body, mind, and family were all on the line when he was using. “Life was horrible, I’d been to treatment nine times, I’ve overdosed several times, I’ve had multiple abscesses. Life was horrible, once I started using drugs at least” said Scott. He financed his habit by lying to and stealing from his mother. “I was a worthless person. I didn’t work, if I did, I would cheat, steal. Just basically my life or world would revolve around heroin or opiates” said Scott.
Scott’s mother kept encouraging him to go to treatment. As Scott puts it, “I tried multiple treatment centers, nothing seemed to work…It just seemed like every time I’d go through treatment, I would do great, and then I’d get out and I would last maybe a month tops.”
Making a Change
It wasn’t until Scott decided he was fed up with the life he was living that treatment started working for him. He’d just overdosed again and spent time in Harborview Medical Center. Scott spent 3 months at home while his body healed. Scott made up his mind, he was sick of lying, cheating and endangering his health. He committed to treatment and leaving addiction behind.
“It was the first time I wanted to do it for myself, so I went into it a whole different way. Before I’d always go into treatment like ‘Okay I got 30 days until I get out, time to party!’ This time I looked at it like, it was a big worry when I got out, about what I would do, how it would work out…Definitely a whole different way of looking at life when I realized I was tired of getting high all the time.”– Scott
Life Today, Plans for Tomorrow
Life for Scott is better now because of his recovery. Sober for two years and recently married with two children, Scott’s been working a steady job for the City of Seattle for the last seven years. His wife, who is also in recovery, is clean now and their relationship is healthier than it’s ever been. Together they are looking for a home, planning for retirement, and looking forward to more time together. “I love getting up every day, my kids got everything they need, I got everything I need, and my Mom doesn’t have to worry about me asking for money” Scott said.
Scott works for the City of Seattle, a job he got through the Conservation Corps, a work-training program operated by the Cities’ Parks and Recreation department. The program provides employment to those experiencing homelessness, or who are undergoing addiction treatment. The Cities’ Parks and Recreation department explains the program “provides job skills and carries out projects that benefit our citizens and our environment.”
While in the Conservation Corps, Scott worked hard, commuting 6-8 hours a day just getting to and from the job site. His dedication and effort paid off. After he finished the program, he was offered a position with the City, where he’s worked since.
Grateful Thoughts and Humble Advice
Reflecting on his recovery, Scott feels methadone played a big part. He feels that the combination of methadone and counseling made it possible for him to take his mind off his addiction and focus on making his life better. “Treatment is here for you, you just need to know you’re ready to commit, then get to it.”
The Therapeutic Health Services team had a great year, especially on our website, where we saw a 118% increase in total web traffic! You have our sincerest thanks for visiting our site, sharing us, and connecting to care with us. We wanted to take a moment to compile some of the great stories, videos, and posts we shared in 2019.
Brenda’s Story – Recovering from Opioid Addiction – Brenda’s fall into opioid use stripped her life of the joy and happiness she lived for. Brenda almost lost everything, but when she decided to enter treatment her hard work helped her win it all back and more.
Betty’s Story – Recovery Through Time – Betty’s life teaches us about how opioid use disorder is a chronic condition and MAT isn’t a cure. However, with care, support, and treatment, Betty has lived a beautiful life confidently knowing she has the support she’s needed.
Rachelle’s Story – Life isn’t always kind, and Rachelle was dealt with some of the worst curve balls life can throw. She was diagnosed with cancer, fell into drug use, and had her child taken away from her…but she didn’t give up. When she became pregnant, Rachelle took that as the inspiration she needed to take her life back into her own hands. Her story of taking back her child, beating cancer, and beating heroin, is a testament to the power of hard work and quality care.
Debra’s Story – Debra had a harder start to life than most people can even imagine. She was born addicted to heroin and was actively using by age 13. Debra’s life was a struggle for survival, but after decades of use and intermittent treatment, she made the decision to finally quit. With the support she needed, Debra met her goal.
Dwayne’s Story – The promise of success, the power of potential, that’s what Dwayne possessed when he started a new career. A young man with talent and skill, he was set for the big leagues, but what started as an after-work calmant quickly took over his life. Dwayne didn’t let heroin stop him, the story of his recovery and fresh start are an inspiration for anyone.
Central Youth Development – Developing Youth and Making Bright Futures – Our Central Youth Development program is serving youth where they are by partnering with Seattle Public Schools to provide quality services and youth development. Their California summer trip with students took them on a tour of many of the biggest and best colleges in the state. Check out this fun video and story and see why the Central Youth Development program are the best at what they do; developing youth and making bright futures.
I’ve Been There, You Can Do This – Peer Support Specialists at THS – Marissa is one of our amazing Peer Support specialists. She uses her knowledge and experience gained in her own struggles with addiction and mental illness, to better help, connect, and serve our patients. Marissa’s story is one of our favorites from 2019.
Losing it and Getting it Back
Dwayne has a relaxed sort of charisma. He’s well dressed, well-spoken, a very charming person to speak with. Life hasn’t always been kind to Dwayne, but when you speak with him you can tell that life’s challenges have not held him down. Despite falling into drug use, addiction and nearly losing everything as a young man, he realized when he had a problem and needed help. He came to THS and with the tools, he was given, Dwayne rebuilt his future.
Challenges and a Bright Future
Born and raised here in Washington, Dwayne started adult life with a challenge, “(When I was) 18 years old my Dad basically said you have three months to figure out what you’re gonna do. I’m kicking you out when you graduate.” Not one to miss a step, Dwayne took this as an opportunity to strike out on his own. He entered a trade school not long after and worked small jobs while he got through school. Dwayne left with the skills and drive he needed to make it. He took a job at a small company and found that he was incredibly talented in his craft. Dwayne kept getting better, kept expanding and growing in his position, but his trajectory would soon be cut abruptly.
A Troubling Influence
The owner of the small company Dwayne was working at had a troubling habit of bringing cocaine and heroin to work. It didn’t take long after starting there that Dwayne was offered some. As Dwayne said, “He introduced it slowly…after work, on the weekends and then it just kind of rolled from there.” Dwayne took to using it more and more, always for fun and never because he needed it. It didn’t take too long before he slipped.
Dwayne had a promising start to his career, but addiction made him lose sight of the life he was building.
I was at the top of my game and eventually you lose everything, you lose your job or your business, then you lose your friends, you lose your family…You’re always asking for money because you spend everything that you had and then you’re just completely down and out.Dwayne
“(I) remember one day I woke up and I felt really awful…when I smoked more of it [heroin] the sickness went away…I knew I was addicted of course” Because of the unique way in which opioids work on the brain and body, the typical withdrawal symptoms ‑ anxiety, muscle cramps, nausea, and jitters – become severe and debilitating. This is why Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), which uses medications like methadone and suboxone to keep withdrawal at bay, is the most effective way to start the process of recovery from opioid addiction.
Connecting to Care
Dwayne connected with THS in the hope of entering the MAT program. He’d tried methadone on the street and found that it took his sickness away “It gave me a good sense of well-being, centered feeling again. I felt like myself and I never felt intoxicated on methadone” said Dwayne. When he came to THS, he was assigned to a care team who worked together with him to provide the care and recovery support he needed. By working with his counselor and physician, Dwayne was given the tools he needed to rebuild his life. It wasn’t easy, but with hard work, caring support, and evidence-based treatment, Dwayne was able to start again.
Success and Recovery
Today, 25 years since entering treatment and moving past his addiction, Dwayne is now a successful business owner. His talent, skill, and drive helped him take back all he’d lost and more. He still receives treatment, but it doesn’t define him. His care is the same as any chronic condition, he sees his provider and gets the support, therapy, and medicine he needs. Dwayne wants others to know what worked for him in his recovery; “Find something to do and just immerse yourself in it. Be so busy that you don’t have time to think about anything else.”
Meet Marissa, Peer Support Specialist
Sitting down with Marissa is like sitting down with a friend you’ve known forever but haven’t seen in a while. She’s both energetic and relaxed, which is perfect because Marissa is a Peer Support Specialist at Therapeutic Health Services (THS). As a Peer Support Specialist, Marissa helps people in need connect to mental health treatment. Marissa is the person at the door welcoming new patients. She’s the voice on the phone reaching out to people who are taking their first tentative steps towards treatment. Marissa loves being the person who helps empower patients on the path to recovery. “My job is not to solve people’s problems. My job is to support people in finding the answers to their own problems” Marissa said. There’s a reason Marissa is a peer; she’s been where many of THS’ patients once were. Marissa struggled with mental health and addiction for a long time.
A Hard Road
Marissa was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder* when she was 13. She spent half her life taking medication she didn’t need. As she puts it, this changed her outlook on life for the worse. Marissa started using methamphetamines when she was 15. She began to use alcohol and other drugs to help her cope with the mental health symptoms she’d been experiencing. It was a dark time in her life. “You know I’ve been there I’ve been hospitalized over 20 times…when you look at me you don’t see somebody who was addicted to drugs,” said Marissa.
Life became even more challenging when Marissa found out she was pregnant. It was when Marissa met with her OB/GYN that they found that she wasn’t bipolar. Her doctor changed her medication and she entered evidence-based treatment for both her mental condition and her addiction. With time, hard work and compassion, it wasn’t long before she was living life on her own terms. Marissa said, “I’ve been off my meds for 10 years now and it’s the strongest I’ve ever been.” Being someone who’s been there, Marissa speaks to what is important to remember when in treatment, “It’s just about being honest and vulnerable…It’s a difficult transition but we (THS) provide hope…to people who are ready to take it back.”
On Being a Peer Support Specialist
Marissa takes her years of experience struggling and recovering from mental illness and addiction and uses them every day in her role as a peer support specialist. “I love just being that light of hope…they feel connected because they’re like ‘Oh you know, you’ve been there, you’ve gone through what I’ve gone through’” said Marissa. She says that when she sits down with a patient and is honest about her recovery, she can establish an instant connection. “I just really like supporting people to where they can get to the next step in their recovery,” said Marissa.
Having gone through recovery herself, Marissa is a living example of the hope that everyone should feel about their own recovery. “There is hope and I think a lot of people lose that side of that hope because they think it’s always going to be like this. (They feel they will) always going to be a slave to their addiction” said Marissa.
Sometimes We Trip, Sometimes We Fall
Marissa is the first person to tell you that recovery is not an easy or linear process. “I relapsed almost six years ago while I worked here” said Marissa. “This organization just rallied around me because they get it. They understand that it’s part of the recovery process.” Marissa took time off work to recover and given time, treatment, and lots of support, she was soon back to work helping patients. “I’m very vocal about it especially with co-occurring* clients, because when people relapse it’s part of the addiction process and they don’t realize that” said Marissa.
New Home, New Room
Marissa’s position with THS is the longest job she’s ever had. It’s given her the opportunity to get off disability and become an independent earner, an accomplishment she is very proud of.
“I’m not on any type of assistance. I’m a single mother. It’s just me and my son and I take care of us independently and because of this job I am able to buy my own home. (My son) will have his own room for the first time since he was a baby.”Marissa Brooks, Peer Support Specialist
Marissa was able to create a beautiful life and future for herself and her son while spending her days providing the support and care needed to help dozens of others in recovery.
Don’t Have Doubt, We Can Help
Marissa wants everyone to get the care they need. “I think that if you are ambivalent at all, just come and talk to a staff member. We are so client-centered. It’s always about what is best, what will foster the client’s wellness and treatment…We work for you” said Marissa.
*Co-occurring Disorders or Dual Diagnosis is the condition of suffering from a mental illness and a substance abuse problem
No one chooses to become addicted, and there are many reasons why people use and abuse substances. It doesn’t take long to reach rock-bottom – losing everything, including your children and your health. Rachelle, a patient at Therapeutic Health Service’s Snohomish/Everett Branch, never imagined she’d lose her life to addiction, but she almost did.
A Challenging Diagnosis
Rachelle was diagnosed with cancer at age 25. A diagnosis that shocked her and stopped her from living her best life. As a mother of a young child and a young adult herself, Rachelle had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Working as a truck dispatcher and no stranger to hard work, Rachelle knew how to juggle priorities, but she couldn’t do it all. Rachelle turned to using cocaine to get through the day, to help her stay awake and remain focused. She felt she needed it to handle the stresses of being a single mother, a cancer patient, and working full-time. Soon cocaine wasn’t enough, and she started using heroin. Everything went downhill fast after that.
Heroin’s Effects on the Brain
According to SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
“Heroin use alters brain circuits that control reward, stress, decision-making, and impulse control, making it more difficult to stop using even when it is having negative effects on your life and health. Frequent use also can lead to tolerance and withdrawal, so you need more of the drug just to feel normal.”SAMSHA “Tips for Teens – Heroin”
Even though Rachelle knew heroin was hurting her mind, body, and relationships, it was incredibly difficult to stop. Rachelle didn’t want to use, but withdrawal kept her from quitting. She was rapidly losing everything; her home, her car, and soon her son.
Losing her Son
Not long after becoming addicted to heroin, Rachelle’s 5-year-old son was taken from her. She continued to spiral out of control. “At that point, the thought of losing everything that I’ve ever loved, I just was doing anything and everything to numb that pain. It was hard, it was super hard” said Rachelle.
In a few years she and her boyfriend (who was also addicted), became pregnant. Five months into her pregnancy she realized it was time to quit. Time to get her life back together and put a stop to the pattern of addiction that had held her down for the last three years. Rachelle said, “I got pregnant, which was an eye-opener ‘cause I couldn’t imagine losing another child at that point. That was my motivation to get clean.”
Rachelle was contacted and referred into service at THS.
“Basically, I came in here, bawled my eyes out, laid it all out on the table. I mean it was rock-bottom for me. I wouldn’t be able to live through having another child yanked from my hands. I was doing anything and everything to support my habit: stealing, car theft, the whole bit. I was at the worst time in my life…This place saved me.”– Rachelle
Working Hard for Recovery
Rachelle worked incredibly hard when she entered treatment. She was determined to end her addiction and recover what she’d lost. Rachelle offered an ultimatum to her boyfriend, either he joined her in treatment, or he had to go. Her boyfriend entered treatment one month behind her and they’ve both been clean since then.
Rachelle and her boyfriend, now fiancé, are both 5 years clean. Their baby was born healthy and Rachelle now sees her eldest son every other weekend. They even have a new baby on the way! Together with her fiancé, they are working on buying a house with room for their whole family.
Reflecting on Success
Joy Jack, Rachelle’s counselor had this to say, “Working with Rachelle has been a really rewarding experience for me, because many people who come to our program are not as successful and don’t know what they want when they get here. Rachelle was somebody who did have that focus on making recovery her priority.” Joy later added that she was incredibly proud of Rachelle, her fiancé, and all the hard work the two had put into their recovery.
Rachelle’s life is now back on track. Reflecting on her life now she said, “I have my kids now and that’s everything to me, that makes me rich in myself. I’m happy with life now and today. I can’t really ask for more. I’m pretty blessed.”
Every day we care for hundreds of patients like Rachelle. Our counselors support our patients to help end their addiction, set goals, and build their future. Your donation helps us to continue creating new futures for the adults and youth we serve. Your support helps us to achieve our mission of fostering healing and recovery.
Looking Back Update It’s been one year since we first shared Brenda’s story. We caught up with her to see how things were going. She’s still receiving treatment with THS and still enjoying working with Paula. As Brenda says; “Paula is still my favorite person…I love her dearly, we get along like real family members, we get along great.” Brenda is healthy and well, still loving all the good things life has blessed her with since she stopping using. Read more..
One-Year Check-Up We had a chance to check-in with Betty, a patient of Summit/Seneca Branch whose story we told a year ago in a patient story video. Betty is doing well and staying healthy in this time of uncertainty. Betty is in the high-risk group for Covid-19, but her local neighbor community has really rallied around the challenge and she and her neighbors are getting help picking up groceries and such. As Betty puts it, she’s really thriving right now. more..
The story below was originally posted in April of 2019. We want everyone to know about Debra and her story of overcoming a lifetime of addiction and health struggles, to create the life she always wanted. A Hard Start Debra had a hard start in life. She was born addicted to heroin, her parents were both users before she was born. At the age of 13, Debra decided she was going to try heroin. Debra asked her father to shoot more..
Kelly’s story, sadly, is one we’ve heard too often before. She grew up in a home where her parents often did drugs, started using meth as a teenager and ran into trouble with the law at a young age. As an alternative to jail time, she entered into the King County Drug Court program, where eligible defendants (generally low-level and non-violent offenders) can choose to receive substance use treatment instead of going to trial. Upon successful graduation from the two more..
In 2016, THS was able to collaborate with the producers of PBS’ Frontline series on a documentary entitled “Chasing Heroin.” Many of the people featured in the documentary are THS patients. The documentary also outlines how over-prescription of opioids led to the current national epidemic. This vivid and compelling film shows the despair of heroin users and how Seattle-based agencies and community members are working to serve these people in need. Medication-Assisted Treatment (Methadone, Suboxone®) As seen in the document, Medication-Assisted Treatment more..
Meeting Scott When you talk with Scott, you hear a guy that knows his mind and can explain where he’s coming from. With every question his response breaks down his experience and tells his story. He makes it easy to relate to each of his challenges and the hard work it took to overcome them. Scott started using heroin when he was 15. He didn’t achieve sobriety until age 38. “I’ve been going at it since I was 15. Got more..
The Therapeutic Health Services team had a great year, especially on our website, where we saw a 118% increase in total web traffic! You have our sincerest thanks for visiting our site, sharing us, and connecting to care with us. We wanted to take a moment to compile some of the great stories, videos, and posts we shared in 2019. Patient Stories Brenda’s Story – Recovering from Opioid Addiction – Brenda’s fall into opioid use stripped her life of the more..
Losing it and Getting it Back Dwayne has a relaxed sort of charisma. He’s well dressed, well-spoken, a very charming person to speak with. Life hasn’t always been kind to Dwayne, but when you speak with him you can tell that life’s challenges have not held him down. Despite falling into drug use, addiction and nearly losing everything as a young man, he realized when he had a problem and needed help. He came to THS and with the tools, more..
Meet Marissa, Peer Support Specialist Sitting down with Marissa is like sitting down with a friend you’ve known forever but haven’t seen in a while. She’s both energetic and relaxed, which is perfect because Marissa is a Peer Support Specialist at Therapeutic Health Services (THS). As a Peer Support Specialist, Marissa helps people in need connect to mental health treatment. Marissa is the person at the door welcoming new patients. She’s the voice on the phone reaching out to people more..