Shandra struggled with drugs and alcohol for most of her life. She tried multiple times to quit, especially after the birth of her son six years ago but would always end up coming back to it. Even after attending different rehab programs over the years, Shandra could not manage to stay in recovery. She was one of more than 20 million Americans struggling with substance use, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“I always felt like I was not worthy,” said Shandra. “I’ve just always had all these problems, I could never get it together, and I didn’t have a good upbringing. I just never learned how to live a normal life.”
Today is a different story. After two years of being separated from her son and battling the same problems over and over again, Shandra was ready for change. A Vaya Health member, Shandra completed the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center program and knew she wanted to do long-term treatment this time around. Thanks to a partnership with Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), Vaya was able to get her into the new Transformation Village, which provides transitional housing for women, mothers with children, and female veterans who are experiencing homelessness. Today, Shandra has hope for the future and feels like she’s capable of so much more. Others see that in her, too.
“I’ve had the joy of watching her blossom and grow,” said Dana Davis, case manager with ABCCM. “She has moved from surviving to thriving and has worked hard in her recovery to maintain her sobriety and take back her life. The staff at Transformation Village are honored to support and cheer her on as she becomes who she was always meant to be.”
Each September, we celebrate the progress that those living in recovery make during National Recovery Month, as well as promote evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. Individuals like Shandra can live successfully in recovery because of the collaboration between partnering agencies and places like Transformation Village.
Vaya works with community partners to combat substance use and inspire hope, healing, and recovery. Not only does Transformation Village provide all the basic necessities, such as food and housing, but also life skills training, professional training certifications, and reintegration that leads to permanent housing. Eight out of ten leave with a living wage and permanent housing, according to the ABCCM website.
Coming from a small town, Shandra feels if she had just gone back there, she would find herself once again surrounded by the same people and problems which would lead her straight back to drugs and drinking. Now, between counseling and classes, attending Narcotics Anonymous, and working a job in renovations and remodeling, Shandra is not only keeping busy but also learning to love herself. At Transformation Village, she has stability, accountability, and understanding.
“There are lot of other places that are just more like institutions, but this is just really homey,” said Shandra. “You get connected with all these people. It’s like having a family.”
Shandra found the support and understanding she needed from her new family and connected with her faith by rededicating herself at Elevation Church. Shandra faced felonies, but through the program, those will be removed from her record if she does not get in trouble for a year. This opens up future job possibilities, which makes her feel like she has a second chance and can really do something with her life that she didn’t think possible before.
She’s now saving up to buy a car so she can get to work, attend classes at AB-Technical Community College, and visit weekly with her son. Reconnecting with him after two years was one of the most important things to her, even though she was scared at first that he would be upset with her after all that time.
“He was so forgiving,” said Shandra. “He was just so happy to see me and talk to me. He didn’t ask me all these hard questions that I thought he would – we just picked right up like we left off and it has flowed good ever since.”
The support Shandra receives is what continues to get her through, and it’s what she recommends for anyone else who wants to live in recovery. Whether it’s attending a group, counseling, or living somewhere like Transformation Village, it’s all about staying connected to other people. She wants others to know that it is possible.
“You are worthy,” said Shandra.