Lisa's Story: Taking Control

"I'm really trying hard to get back on track..."

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Substance abuse can affect everyone. Throughout her life, Lisa was in unhealthy relationships that led to addiction, alcohol abuse and losing custody of her four children. Luckily, with the help of a trusted friend and United Way, Lisa was able to reclaim her life.

After attending cosmetology school and becoming a hair stylist. She moved in with her boyfriend, who was an addict, and began using herself. When Lisa realized that her addiction was out of her control, she quit cocaine cold turkey. She broke up with her boyfriend and started working in a salon.

However, she met another man, Jason, and became involved. He was a user and dealer and she began using again.

“I had gotten myself off cocaine without rehab, so I thought it would be okay to start taking opioid pills on occasion with Jason to have fun,” Lisa explains with chagrin. “I thought I could just quit on my own. With opioid addiction, you can’t even stand up. You are physically throwing up. You can’t shake off an opioid addiction.”

It turned out that the local drug task force was building a case against Jason and raided the house with a search warrant and found a slew of drugs. Lisa lost custody of her children then.

“I was completely devastated,” Lisa says. “That was the worst time of my whole life, the darkest time. I can’t even describe the guilt, the shame. Just knowing how I had let my children down. I was supposed to be taking care of them, and I had completely failed at that.”

After Jason went to jail, Lisa began to reduce her opioid use under medical supervision and earned back custody of her children and was able to get benefits to send them to school.

Through the kids’ school, Lisa met Vicki, and a friendship grew out of their connection. Vicki helped Lisa keep her daughter in school when she lost her benefits. Perhaps the most important thing Vicki did, however, was help Lisa realize that Jason's behavior was not acceptable and putting her kids in danger. 

“I was trying to take care of him, too,” Lisa explains. “I was trying to save him, and he didn’t want to be saved. He was poisoning my life and my kids’ lives. Being able to cut that off and presenting that opportunity to be able to change my life where I didn’t have to be dependent on this poison—that was a pivotal moment for me.”

From then on, Lisa turned her life around. Vicki helped her keep her kids in school and start attending financial literacy classes that will help her and her children stay safe and healthy.

It’s been a long journey to sobriety, emotional balance and financial stability, but Lisa and her kids have finally turned a corner. Lisa is working toward short-term goals: paying down debt, opening her own salon again, and buying a house. But, her long-term dreams are all focused on her kids.

“I’ve made a lot of bad choices that negatively affected not just me, but my kids," she admitted. "I am really trying hard to get back on track so that they have a good life and are not too affected now by what I put them through in the past.”

Lisa’s mistakes upended her family’s life like she never could have imagined. But with the help of compassionate people and United Way, she has been able to get life on the right track for her kids.

Without United Way donors, drug addiction counseling services and more would not exist to help families recovery. We appreciate your support in helping us support a network of quality education, health and financial stability programs in Northwest Indiana for all residents.

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