My name is Nancy and I am a recovering addict. I am the mother of the two most adorable, respectable, lovable, responsible, supportive kids in the whole wide world. My clean/ sober date is September 8th 1996 – the day my son turned two years old and the same day I went into detox.

When I was asked to speak tonight, I did not think twice. I will never say no to FIRP because they never said no to me. I like to go back and give hope to the women in treatment and let them know that recovery is possible.

My addiction started with Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine powder, any kind of pills, heroin and crack cocaine. I was a high school dropout and felt that I could never go back to school.   It was too late for me. I was a full blown addict. I was born in Puerto Rico the youngest of four sisters.  My father abandoned my mother when she was pregnant of me. We were very poor and my mother was not able to feed her four little girls. So, my mother came to New York in 1968 and left us with family members.

A year later she sent for us and we lived in New York with her sister and her husband in a three room apartment. My mother was on state assistance and worked in a factory in order to save money and get an apartment.

I was first introduced to Alcohol at an early age. My grandmother owned a bar where people played billiards and I was exposed to a lot of alcohol including watching my uncles drink every day. My mother was very strict and did not allow us to have any friends or receive any phone calls. We had a curfew and if we were even 1 minute late, she would ground us for weeks. This didn’t keep me from drinking and smoking cigarettes in the school bathroom with my peers. Later on, I found out my father was an alcoholic.

Then my mother met someone and got married and we moved to Connecticut. I remember going to Crosby High School to register, that would have been my first year of High School. I was 15 yrs old.

I never went back to the school. Instead I ran away from home because “mom was too strict.”  I met my “first love” at the age of 15, married him at 19 and then he divorced me at 29 because of my drug use and lifestyle. I was drinking and using drugs every day.  By that time I had given up on motherhood and thought I could not have any children. Then at the age of 32, I had my beautiful daughter Amanda. It was 1992 and then another gift, my son in 1994. I did not realize it then–but my children were going to be my motivation and lifesaver to get clean and sober.

My mom…my rock, confronted me and said she was going to call DCF because the way I was living was not appropriate for my kids. I always knew it was wrong but I could not stop. I knew she would and two weeks later my sisters, my mom and my step-dad did an intervention. I admitted to having a problem with drugs and agreed to go to treatment. I remember a couple of weeks before the intervention, I wanted to die and looked at my babies faces and did not have the courage to end it.

I met with a counselor after I was admitted to detox and told her I needed help and did not wanted to leave my children. The day I was discharged I was given an appointment for an interview at a program called Families in Recovery or FIRP as it is called. I went for the intake and was offered a bed for me and my two children.  My children and I went to FIRP in September 1996.

My Anthony was two and my Mandy was 3. My children, for the first time, finally had three meals a day, had the chance to play with other kids, and my son was wearing diapers instead of towels. It was hard right at first and I still felt like I wanted to leave.  Thank God I stayed because 30 days into treatment, I was looking out the window and felt free. For the first time I no longer had to figure out how to get what I needed. Despite the restrictions of the program, I felt free….the obsession was lifted.  What a feeling!!!!

I successfully completed the program at FIRP in March of 1997 and knew then I did not EVER, EVER have to do this again as long as I did not get high. MY children and I moved to a transitional housing for families. That was not easy either but I did it. While living there, I was able to get my High School diploma with the help of some wonderful people. While I was at FIRP I had filled out an application for permanent housing and in December 1998, I moved to Bridgeport where I had my first Christmas clean and sober with my children. I had my diploma anda Certified Nursing Assistant certification and in 2000, I started working at Carlton Convalescent Hospital. Then in 2004 I went to Southwest Community Health Center until 2007, when I decided I wanted to be a counselor and work in the substance abuse field. I have been preparing to be certified substance abuse counselor since then—the only thing left for me to do is take the test.

That has been one of my most challenging goals to accomplish, but once I complete that, my next goal is going to Springfield College.

Today, I am working at Operation Hope as a Daily Living Skills where I have been since 2009. My daughter graduated in 2010 from Notre Dame High School in Fairfield and is attending Southern Connecticut State University. My son graduated from Central High School in 2012.

I met my husband in 1996, started dating him in 1998, we engaged in 2006 and were married on January 14 of this year.  Then—something I thought would always be out of my reach—we closed on our first home on March 7 – just a little over a month ago. I truly, truly never had it so good. I have been clean for 17 years and I still do meetings and serve as a sponsor.

I am so blessed to have the support of my family, my friends and most of all my faith in God. As I share with you my story—I realize I AM A MIRACLE and by the grace of God I am able to say, I never had it so good. Maggie said to me that I never had to do treatment again and she was right.

I am grateful that I was referred to FIRP. I WILL ALWAYS GIVE BACK TO FIRP because of what they gave me – I was able to find myself. And life gave me an opportunity to be the best mom I can be for my children. I have gone from homeless to homeowner.

THANK YOU FIRP – Thank you Liberation Programs!