(Second in a series on drug and alcohol addiction.)
Life for the addict is a life that goes from euphoria to a life of loss, pain and shame. “It is not that you use, but what causes you to use. We all use because of something. Picking up the drug is just the end result,” says Ramona Davis, a teacher/counselor with the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER), a drug and alcohol treatment organization.
|DRUG PARAPHERNALIA —Here are some of the leftovers in a vacant house used by drug addicts.
Upbeat, her demeanor takes on a tinge of sorrow as she continues, “It is sad to say some have to die in order for others to live. But every time someone dies because of the disease of addiction, there is someone who looks for a way out.”
Recovery offers an amazing option for the drug-addicted soul. That option is a choice to live a life free of addiction, as a closed world opens to fresh opportunities.
Davis’ personality tends to provide a warm atmosphere when she enters a room. Greeting everyone with a beautiful smile and an air of confidence, her openness and sincere honesty is both receptive and refreshing.
Today, she possesses a heart full of love, joy and pride. She remembers vividly where she came from, is aware of where she is now, and is grateful for the path on which she continues to walk.
In June of 1995, Davis came to the realization that she could climb the mountains in her life through faith, determination and a strong belief within herself. With humility, she has endured the impractical and achieved the impossible. The loving wife and mother is now spending her life giving back and helping others walk that uncompromising bridge to sobriety.
The self-proclaimed addict is quick to admit she possesses “an addictive personality. When asked if it was peer pressure that led her on the path of destruction, she states, “I was always a leader.” The junior high pre-teen began her ascent into the world of drugs and her descent out of the world of reality. Marijuana, her “gateway drug,” was her steppingstone into a world where failure is at the core and reaching the bottom is inevitable.
The young teen’s progression carried her to environments that took her far beyond reality. Through it all, she managed to graduate from high school and find employment, while continuing to drink and experiment with a variety of mind-altering drugs.
Unfortunately, through this progression, she knocked on a door labeled crack cocaine, and it became “my chosen drug of choice.” The downward spiral took her to distant places she never imagined. But throughout her travels, like so many others, she refused to accept the consequences of her dependence on alcohol and drugs. But crack provided a downhill course that took Davis to the end of her journey. Not only did she lose a job that provided well for her family, she faced the possibility of the loss of her three children…ages 14, 6 and 2.
Her bad choices placed her life in the hands of an Allegheny County judge, and she found herself facing either a mandatory in-house recovery program or incarceration at Muncie. The choice she had to make was an easy one, and it became a wake-up call that changed the course of her life.
At that time, Whale’s Tale offered a program for mothers who were not only jobless, but homeless. They also provided a place where her children were able to stay with her throughout her journey. “Anxious to get my life together,” Davis completed the one-year program in a total of nine months. She admits “it was not easy,” but her desire to hold onto the children she brought into this world made her a recovery success story…one she loves to share.
Following her in-patient care, she continued on the road to recovery through group therapy and an intensive outpatient care program with Familylinks. Because of her achievements, the center of her heart is dedicated to the recovery of other mothers who have made destructive choices.
She remembers all too well from whence she came; and she is empathetic for those travelling that difficult road. Grateful for the counseling available for her entire family, Davis came to the realization that, “It was not just about me…it was about the whole family and, together, through Familylinks, we became a healthy family.” She now works at the organization on a part-time basis, helping others in the struggle.
Davis and her husband both traveled the roads of addiction and recovery together. The “healthy road” the couple is now walking is a testimony to the validity and success of recovery. Independently and hand in hand, their lives define the “Circle of Courage,” a continuing cycle of the recovery phases.
Today, they live the American Dream. Fifteen years addiction-free, they serve a God who Davis states “was working for us when we could not work for ourselves.” She and the man she loves have since married, work full-time jobs, and are loving, proud parents. Together, they have purchased their own home, and also own additional property.
Under the influence, they were unable to imagine the solid life they now possess. Their relationship, she states, is based on the memories of the past and a continued commitment of love and hope for the future. Extremely proud of each other, their accomplishments, she states, “are solely because we are alcohol and drug free.”
Open and honest, she willingly states that “anything that feels real good, I will take to the extreme. I had to learn how to stay clean; it was a long process. I know obsessive behaviors. That is the addict in me.” She advises others enmeshed in the struggle of recovery to “sit still, no matter how hard it might be, trust me…one day at a time…it gets easier.”
Her youngest daughter, who was two at the time she entered recovery, is now a 17-year-old senior, who will graduate from high school this year. Once again, mindful of her accomplishments and looking at the healthy lives of her children, she reiterates that “God was working for us.”
“I truly believe I had to go through what I had to go through in order to get where I am today. Because today, I am doing just what I believe I was chosen to do…and that is helping other moms who are addicted. I work hand in hand with CYF to help moms in need of treatment.” In so doing, she is helping others reach that impossible dream.
Davis is a symbol of the determination required to get through a part of her life that she does not hide deep within her. Instead, she chooses to share her story with the world, fully aware that her gift from God is life. Her gift to herself is her sobriety, and her gift to others is the encouragement to reach that which is reachable.