All of us have a story. Not all of us live long enough to tell it.
Sara came to Liberation Programs in need of our help and because we were there for her, she can tell hers.
She took her first drink at only 13 years old. What followed were many years of heavy drinking, well into her adulthood. In 1990, she joined the U.S. Navy. During her eight years enlisted, she found it easy to hide her excessive drinking – which continued unabated throughout her naval career. When she left the military, she was able to get sober and remained so for about 14 years.
Then Sara became involved with a man who became physically and emotionally abusive, suffering 26 black eyes, four broken ribs, and two broken noses at his hands. “He threatened to throw me out of the house. He threatened my life. He told me I had nowhere to go. I believed him.” Every day, Sara felt like her partner was waging psychological warfare against her as he prevented her from seeking help.
One day Sara finally reached her breaking point and called the police. A sense of relief came over her when her abuser was taken away, but what happened next devastated and stunned her: child welfare removed Sara’s two children from her care as a result of the domestic violence in her life. Shattered and not knowing where to turn, she walked into a bar.
Eleven long, agonizing months followed where Sara self-medicated with binge drinking and drugs, thinking that it was the only way to dull the emotional pain of years of abuse – trauma now made still worse by the unbearable separation from her little ones.
May 10, 2015 was excruciating for Sara – it was the only Mother’s Day she’d spent without her children. But she also began to feel hope for the first time in ages when she made the courageous choice to become addiction-free once more. She reached out to Liberation Programs where staff in the Families in Recovery Program (FIRP) helped her understand she could get her children back after she became more grounded in recovery.
Sara moved into a sober house where every day she committed herself to getting better – spending countless hours in group sessions, unpacking and trying to understand the trauma she had experienced. In a year’s time, she had made tremendous progress.
Even so, Sara knew that she still had more work to do. Ready to move on to the next stage of her recovery, she reconnected with FIRP. She remembers, “When I first came to the program, I was scared to death. I didn’t want to be around anyone – I truly didn’t like myself. My anxiety was out of control.”
People who know Liberation Programs well know that our philosophy has always been about treating the whole person. So, in addition to helping Sara gain more tools to support her recovery, FIRP helped her reconnect with life and the world around her. They encouraged her to take walks outdoors and go to outside meetings. When her godmother passed away, staff made arrangements to take Sara all the way to Portland, CT to attend the funeral.
Like Sara, many of the women at FIRP have become separated from their children due to crises and traumatic circumstances. At Liberation, we are in the business of treating the whole family, because addiction doesn’t just affect the addicted person, but it touches everyone in their life. FIRP is one of the very few programs in Connecticut where women can keep their children with them while they are in treatment. The staff members at FIRP were there to support Sara as she took the painstaking steps to get her children back.
After four successful months in the program, Sara moved into transitional housing where she continued to work hard on her recovery for another year. And her hard work continued to pay off.
Today, Sara has regained part-time custody of her two beloved children and they all live together in Sara’s own three-bedroom apartment. Sara has an excellent job as an office manager of a furniture store and she has become a Recovery Support Specialist, certified to hold group sessions to help others suffering the ravages of addiction and past trauma.
Now Sara is able to look toward the future with hope. She wants to continue helping others, and plans to get her master’s in social work and become a certified counselor. Sara credits our program for its pivotal role in her recovery: “FIRP is not just a set program, but a place where the staff tailors treatment to match your individual needs. They let me know how much they valued me as a person and believed in my recovery.”
This approach to treatment is part of Liberation Programs’ philosophy of care. We understand that to effectively help people break free from addiction, we need to value them as individuals and demonstrate our belief that recovery is possible for everyone.
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