At A Reprieve for Women, establishing community is a key part of our recovery program. More than simply providing support, our community gives our residents a place to show up authentically, be accepted for exactly who they are, and encourage others on their own unique recovery journeys.
Maddi grew up in what she calls a typical household. She had a loving family, parents dedicated to her and her sister, food on the table, and a roof over her head. On the surface, all was right in her life, but inside, Maddi struggled with her confidence and self-image.
“Around middle school, I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough,” Maddi shared. “I felt like all my friends were ahead of me in every way: academically, socially, and lookswise. I always compared myself to everyone else, so I was never happy with myself.”
Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are often at the root of a person’s addiction. Drugs and alcohol become an escape that allows them to feel “normal.” In reality, they are masking their true feelings.
Beginnings of Addiction
Like many teenagers and young adults, Maddi experimented with drugs and alcohol with her friends throughout high school and college. She never felt like she had a problem with substances but continued to use to push down the negative image she had of herself.
“I really started to feel lost after my college years,” she said. “I took a job that I didn’t want, got into some bad relationships, and did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost.”
Hopelessness overcame Maddi as she saw all her close friends seemingly outpacing her by getting married and finding the jobs of their dreams. “I was at a standstill in my life and didn’t know anything other than to exist,” she said. “The only way I could handle this way of life was by taking drugs. I did not like myself without the use of drugs.”
The First Step to Recovery
Maddi continued to drown these feelings in drugs and alcohol until the consequences started to appear. When she ran out of money to use on her addiction, she suffered from a seizure due to withdrawals. Fortunately, she was home with her parents, who quickly rushed her to a hospital.
“I went to rehab for the first time in January of 2021,” Maddi said. “Coming from a family that didn’t know much about addiction, we didn’t have a clue. Whatever anyone recommended is what we did.”
After a short stint in detox and a 28-day inpatient rehab stay, Maddi returned home. “It was good, and I learned a lot while there, but it was only like putting a bandaid on a wound,” she said. “I was told what I needed to do [in recovery] but not how to do it.”
Maddi returned home and attempted to continue her life, returning to old habits, jobs, homes, and triggers. She was going through the motions of her recovery program, staying sober to make everyone else happy. However, she had a countdown in her mind for when she finished her outpatient program; that was when she could use again.
A Second Chance for Real Recovery
After completing her outpatient program, Maddi returned to using her drugs of choice while maintaining a facade of happiness for her family. Her family had begun to trust her again, and she didn’t want to lose them. But the pull of her addiction was too strong. It wasn’t long before her sister discovered the pills she was taking from other family members, and things quickly spun out of control.
Finally, one Saturday morning, Maddi’s family led an intervention to get her back into a recovery program. She fought with everything she had to avoid going back to rehab because she didn’t think it could work. Her family made plans for her to be a part of the Reprieve program. Despite her reluctance, she decided to at least give it a try.
“When I was in detox, Bo Mullins [Community Representative for the Reprieve programs] sat down with me and discussed just how much my parents really wanted to help me,” she said. “Detox was the lowest point I had ever been. I realized this would kill me if I didn’t try something new. I needed help.”
After detoxing, she packed up her things and headed to Tuscaloosa. “Getting to the Reprieve, I was terrified,” Maddi said. “I didn’t know what to expect or if things would work out. When I arrived, I immediately felt this sense of family when I walked through the door. All of the girls hugged me and made me feel at home. It was the first time I felt like I could breathe. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time, and it finally felt that I didn’t have to fight anymore.”
Finding Long-Term Sobriety at A Reprieve for Women
Once settling in at the Reprieve, Maddi could stop fighting and surrender to the process. She had time to think and could fully commit to living a life of sobriety. “I really, really wanted to be sober,” she said. “I was sick of hurting my family, lying, and all the other things I had done during my addiction,” she said.
Maddi realized how tired she was and knew she needed the welcoming, home-like environment that the Reprieve provided. Surrounded by a supportive group of people who instantly became her sisters, she began to work through the 12 Steps and came to understand her disease.
“I started to be honest with myself,” said Maddi. “I realized there were women out there that were just like me. People were standing with me, and I didn’t feel alone anymore.”
Maddi went on to stay at the Reprieve for an entire year. During her time there, she worked the steps, opened up about her past for the first time, and began to gain happiness, trust, and self-confidence. After 90 days at the Reprieve, her disease started to make sense, and the program started clicking. Maddi admitted that she was an alcoholic and an addict, which allowed her to move forward.
Relationships that will last a lifetime
“Everything at the Reprieve was amazing,” Maddi reminisced. “I have made friends that are like my sisters now, and I know that these will be my people for the rest of my life. They are some of the strongest relationships that I have ever had.”
Looking back at the people she had met and the things she learned during her year at the Reprieve, Maddi had a few things to say. “You need to take things one day at a time,” she said. “It is easy to be overwhelmed when you think of things, even two days in the future. Put your higher power first and give everything to God.”
Maddi also shared this advice for women starting their recovery journey. “You need to diligently work the steps and go to meetings. If you put effort into your recovery, you will see the results, and things will become easier than you could ever imagine.”
Today, Maddi reconnected with her family, again gaining their trust. “I’m able to have very healthy and honest relationships today. I now know how to handle the bad days without having a drink or drugs,” she said. “My life now is great. It really is.”