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Linda’s Story of Recovery Through POWER

When Linda was 25 she was an overwhelmed single parent of two girls.  She started using alcohol on the weekends as an escape.  That seemed normal to her, because that’s what people did in the household where she grew up.  Then she progressed to sniffing cocaine and to freebasing.  She still didn’t think she had a problem because she continued to go to work and take care of her children.  Being able to function interfered with attempts she made at recovery.  When the other addicts talked about being on the street, Linda couldn’t identify with their stories. Eventually her crack cocaine use increased to a point where, Linda says, “Everything I did was about using.”  She started doing things that were out of character for her, such as selling her clothes and furniture and losing jobs.  Then she got some very bad news….she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  “I was even in denial about the illness”, Linda says….until she found out she was pregnant.  She knew then that she had to do something. She went into rehab, and that was where she first heard about POWER.  But she wasn’t interested.  Linda didn’t want to go into a women’s residential program because she had always been distant with women.  Her only relationships were with men.  After completing rehab she ignored suggestions to go to POWER, went back to her old life, and relapsed. The second time she went to rehab she knew she had to find another program to go to afterward.  She decided to give POWER a try.  When she first got there she thought her therapist was crazy for suggesting she had unresolved issues.  Now she considers that one of the best gifts her therapist gave her.  “She gave me the opportunity to really look at Linda,” she says, “and at the issues I’d been running from all my life.”  With her therapist’s help she broke down barriers that had always held her back. And to her surprise, she got along with the other women. “We became like sisters,” she says. “We helped each other through rough periods; we talked about things we never wanted to talk about before.” When Linda graduated from POWER she left with tools POWER had given her to deal with anxieties and stress.   “If I feel like I want to use again,” she says. “I have tools to turn to.” Today, in addition to her two grown daughters, Linda has two sons….one in college and a 10-year-old. “Now,” Linda says, “I have the opportunity to be a model for my children.” Her children, her faith, and giving back are the three most important things in her life.  She works for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, educating women about HIV/AIDS and about protecting themselves. Linda says, “Giving back has been a huge part of my healing process, because people at POWER loved me when I didn’t know how to love myself.”   Now she does the same for others whenever she can. Clean and sober for 18 years, she wants people to know that treatment works.  “Addiction no longer has me living in bondage, “ she says. “I have been set free….what a victory!”

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