Clean and sober
Faye Carter has enough memories of her last drug-induced haze to know it’s not a place she ever plans to revisit.
After she went to court Oct. 16 to face charges of methamphetamine possession, Carter knew she was out of options.
Either she would go to jail, like so many before her, or she’d get a chance to turn her life around with the help of a state initiative aimed at giving drug offenders a second chance.
Her second chance came inside the walls of a two-story, 130-year-old Victorian on Bennett Street amongst the comfort of those who had been to the depths of drug addiction.
“Before I got here, I felt worthless, had no self-esteem. I felt I was less than anybody,” said Carter, 57, one of six women living at Hope House, a live-in haven that offers therapy, parenting skills and a second chance for women determined to stay clean.
“I always thought doing drugs was a way of covering up the pain,” said Carter, the product of a poor family and alcoholic father.
The home celebrated its first anniversary Thursday.
Instead of spending her days shooting or smoking meth, Carter attends meetings, cooks meals, and shares stories of 37 years of drug-addled living, usually one step beyond the law.
Now, 78 days into a three-month stay, Carter says she has no plans of ever turning back.
“I’m not afraid,” she said inside the house’s upstairs dining room. “There’s a
lot of love in this house. We learn that today we’re clean, and we don’t worry about tomorrow. I know in my heart I will be clean tomorrow and the next day, with help.”
The Hope House’s beginnings date to April 2000, when the Children and Families First Commission, born of a tobacco tax approved by voters, helped fund the home. Women at the home pay a fee to stay there 90 days.
They aren’t allowed to leave the home until they’ve been there 30 days, said program coordinator Kristina Perales. After 30 days, they’re required to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings; family members must also be willing to participate in therapy sessions.
If they have children, the women receive parenting skills, too.
“When you’ve been using for so many years, you may need some help in very basic areas,” she said.
Unlike some inpatient treatment centers, this one offers rooms with plush couches, wood stoves and ornately decorated meeting areas. Each room is decorated to match a client’s taste. Outside, the women plant a garden that will bear vegetables for their meals.
“We want the women to feel they can trust us, so they can feel safe,” she said.
Stacey Ringle almost lost her four children over her methamphetamine addiction.
Her mother and daughter both used drugs as she tried to escape them but failed.
“I couldn’t stop using on my own. I thought this was a better life for me and my children than jail,” said Ringle, who added that the use of drugs at her San Juan Ridge home “was like being part of the family. It was like a ritual.”
After graduating from drug court in 1999, Ringle tried valiantly to quit drugs, but family influences made it difficult.
“I tried to quit, but drugs were all around me,” she said.
The best part of being at the home is “that we can talk about my problems. This is like the family I never had,” said Ringle, who has been at the home 48 days.
“I know I’m not going to go back. I have to think of all the things I’m going to lose if I do, and when you’re doing drugs, you never think about that.”
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