Brooke’s House Recovery Home for Women
The story of one Brooke’s House graduate in her own words.
By Naomi Pike
What is addiction? The DSM-5 defines it as a chronic, relapsing dis-order characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and mental illness. “Susceptibility to drug abuse and addiction is formed by the combination of heredity, environment, and the use of psychoactive drugs or practice of compulsive behavior” (Uppers, Downers, All Arounders *Physical & Mental Effects in Psychoactive Drugs – Darryl S Inaba, Pharm D; William E Cohen page 2-38)
I did not become an addict overnight nor did I ever aspire to be one but that is the modus operandi of the disease. Most professionals in the field agree that there are four main stages of addiction. The first stage begins with experimentation where a pleasurable reward in the brain occurs and there usually are no significant conse-quences. Therefore, the brain says it wants more. The second stage begins with indulging in “more” and doing so on a regular basis, which leads to tolerance because the brain then needs a larger amount to get the same effect. In the third stage, the body becomes dependent on the drug and use is at a high risk because it takes over life and logic and is now the top priority. In the fourth stage cravings are obsessive, and we become impulsive despite legal, social, health, and financial repercussions. Once you reach this level of addiction your body will tell you in the form of withdrawals that it needs the drug (shakes, sweats, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, body aches, agitation, and headaches). Once I plateaued at this phase I was in a primitive state and would go to any means necessary to calm the burning fire inside me. I put everyone and everything in jeopardy for my own selfish desires.
In my personal experience it seems as if addiction goes full force when a compromise to oneself transpires. This can happen in a number of different ways; we compromise our beliefs, our values, and ourselves, or someone violates us, or something traumatic takes place. In my case addiction evolved into an escape plan, a dead-end quest to feel whole by means of an outside source.
I was predisposed to disease because it was embedded in my DNA. Alcohol and drug use was normalized in my family, I was an adrenaline seeker from a very young age, and I was attracted to the void. It started with nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana before the age of 12. By age 14 I was a “weekend warrior” and cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and tranquilizers were introduced to the party. At 22, opiates and pharmaceuticals were being prescribed. In this chapter of my life, I was in a violently abusive, volatile, and toxic cesspool of a relationship, which manifested into an ominous future.
I sacrificed who I was and what I believed in to live for someone else. I didn’t recognize myself and hated who I had become. Satan took advantage of my vulnerability and seduced me in the manner of the ultimate substance …heroin. It had invaded my brain, took over my body and life, and conquered my soul. Being enslaved by heroin and the relationship, I went to depths I thought I could never reach and did things I thought I would never do. I had no self-love and felt incomplete. In turn I relied on drugs to numb the shame that was a direct result of my drug use. I felt worthless, inadequate, and lost. The more my obsession hunted for a chemical solution to a spiritual problem, the more lost I became. The toxic relationship eventually ended but I carried around an extreme amount of guilt and remorse, which kept me chained to my addiction and fueled my destruction. I was a self-made science experiment and polluted my body with every substance under the narcotic umbrella. Daily I was scamming, scheming, manipulating, conniving, playing with my freedom, and risking my life. I allowed myself to let go of all inhibitions, caused myself great bodily harm, ruined my dreams, and sold my soul. I was living on the streets, emaciated due to feeding my addiction rather than my stomach, and putting myself in dangerous situations. I committed crimes, had drug induced seizures, and overdosed countless times. My life had reached the point where cops, paramedics, judges, and attorneys knew me on a first name basis. I was con-spiring with the devil for my demise and volunteered for the grim reaper to dig my own grave. I thought I had no reason to live and unconsciously was looking for death and was compelled to ambush my life. There are things far worse than death and that was the way in which I was living. GOD had not abandoned me, but I abandoned GOD because I felt I was a disgrace. Contrary to my appetite for demolition, GOD had a higher purpose for me and resisted my attempts. I vividly remember my last overdose. When I had overdosed in the past it was as if I went into a deep sleep and woke up surrounded by police officers, nurses, and EMTS. This time was different. I could feel my heart slowing down and my breathing was suppressed. My brain was coherent to what was happening, and I was petrified! My brain was telling my body what to do but it would not respond. I could feel life slipping away. As I was staring death in the face, I begged GOD to save me. I was awakened by a stranger in a dark and isolated alley. He was an angel in the shape of human form who had just injected me with Narcan. GOD not only saved my life but a week later he saved me from myself. I was arrested and bond was revoked. GOD did for me what I could not do for myself; HE removed me from an unsavory environment and forced me to sit with myself. HE opened my eyes to see what I was avoiding the entire time… Naomi. There is a saying that goes, “You take you everywhere you go and can never shake your shadow unless you’re in the dark.” Sometimes the brightest light appears in the darkest places. At first, I was furious, defiant, and endured monstrous withdrawals. The struggle was necessary! Once some of the head haze cleared, self-reflection was imminent. GOD helped me realize and accept what I had been avoiding all along; I had a problem, and I was that problem. I picked up the Bible and the HOLY SPIRIT spoke to me and said, “What makes you think your transgressions are more powerful than my power to forgive?” This was a spiritual awakening for me. If JESUS died on the cross to forgive my sins, how could I not forgive me? I knew that in order to dodge despair I had to seek GOD’S boundless love and seek repentance. I understood that holding onto hurts and hang ups kept me chained in that place. I felt more freedom in the confines of my jail cell than I ever did outside those walls. I was sentenced to four months and enrolled in the Jail Substance Abuse Program. I went to the director and told her I needed a long-term treatment facility because if my feet hit the streets that’s what I would go back to. I had consumed drugs for a period of 27 years and that was all I knew. If I wanted to change my life, I had to change my way of thinking and do everything differently. I took a leap of faith and applied for Brooke’s House because that is what was recommended. I prayed “let THY will be done,” and I cried when I learned I was accepted. I was more anxious to go to Brooke’s House than I was to be released.
Brooke’s House welcomed me with open arms and without judgement. I was not profiled as a criminal and addict, but I was respected as a valuable human being. This was a far cry from the degradation and demoralization that came along with addiction. I had nothing to my name but my name and an opportunity to discover a new way of life. GOD bestowed a path with amazing people who would guide me on how to get myself out of the mud. My life began the moment I chose to get uncomfortable and do things out of the ordinary for me. From day-one, a wise woman advised me that to make lifelong changes you must learn to love yourself and have patience to trust the healing process. Brooke’s House taught me invaluable life lessons that I am forever grateful for. These are some of the truths that I am living by each day; Condition yourself to be honest, open-minded, willing, and do everything with integrity. Plant seeds in a sturdy foundation so your roots are steadfast and can withstand the storms. Develop a support network because staying connected is being protected. Emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual balance is key for a healthy life. If you want what the winners have, do what the winners do. If you don’t have what you want, then want what you have. Show an attitude of gratitude because a grateful addict will never use. Structure creates stability, responsibility, and self-discipline. Brooke’s House helped me learn how to build healthy boundaries and a means to communicate them. My past doesn’t define me, but it designs the person I am and want to be. Don’t settle for a life you think you are stuck with but build the life you want. Demonstrate reliability and a strong work ethic. Understand my limits but rely on the limitless majesty of my Higher Power. On this journey and in this program you gain a plethora of knowledge and coping skills, but you also must let things go that are not conducive to your recovery (people, places, things, behaviors). It centered me in a strong sense of self and solidified me with purpose. I understand that happiness is not dictated by my circumstances or what I have but it is my mind set and how I chose to perceive life. Success is not defined by what I accomplish or acquire but about the challenges I have overcome and the person my obstacles strengthened me to be. It is not about what I have, but rather who I have and what I do. During this transformative time, I was led to a fellowship and 12-step program. This has taught me how to have the humility to be transparent and humble. It is a simple program, but it is not easy because it is an internal job and you are responsible for your own recovery. It shed light on the fact that drugs are just a symptom of my problem. It is a guide to spiritual principles and how to apply them to all aspects of my life.
Brooke’s House originated from a tragedy and blossomed into a legacy. It is a labor of love and family, which offer a connection of protection. GOD’S healing hands and Brooke’s presence are evident in the miracles that take place. Everyone that is involved with Brooke’s House is driven by love and passion, which is a force that empowers and inspires women to renew themselves, restore their dreams, and fulfill their potential. They push you to be better and reach further. Today I am two years and five months sober, which I thought was impossible. I am no longer a part of the problem, but a piece of the solution. When I first got clean my plan was for the pain to stop. Now it is not about me, it is bigger than me. I am blessed to be employed at Brooke’s House and witness the phenomenal transformations take place that the women work so hard for. They help me with my spiritual development, service to life, and soul fulfillment. Everyday clean and sober is a victory! Life is a privilege that I will never take for granted because our time here is sacred. I don’t forget where I came from because I never want to go back. I have paid to be the person I am with my existence. It is by GOD’S grace that I am here today. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I have surrendered and know that HE is in control. If I try to operate on self-will, it will only cause chaos, disharmony, and imbalance. I have clarity now that to feel alive I first had to understand suffering and was given the gift of desperation. My life is GOD’S gift to me, what I do with it is my gift to GOD. I seek redemption, intend to pay my balance, and right my wrongs. I try to do this by being a living example of GOD’S favor and a glimpse of hope. Life is about coming home to ourselves and helping others on their journey home.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please seek help. As long as you have a breath in you, you have a fighting chance. We all quit using drugs someday, just make sure you are alive to see that day.
Special thanks to Kevin and Dana Simmers for their love and dedication to bring Brooke’s House to fruition, to Brooke’s House counselors and staff, my sisterhood, the volunteers, generous charities and donors, the supportive community, and everyone who contributes to this organization that has a profound effect on so many lives. It is a collaborative effort from everyone involved that makes the program possible.
The Brooke’s House organization consists of three major components. First, Brooke’s House is a 16-bed long term residential facility for adult women recovering from alcohol and substance abuse disorder. The Stone House location is the on-site IOP/OP counseling services building. The Transitional Housing residences offer long-term sober living for qualified graduates of Brooke’s House. Brooke’s House offers three social enterprise options to provide current residents a chance to learn new job skills, develop a positive work ethic, and help assist them in their transition back to the community. They are Brooke’s House Coffee & Chocolate Shop, Brooke’s House Thrift Store, and Brooke’s House Junk Removal Service. Visit www.brookshouse.org or call (240) 267-2230 for information on their social enterprise program or to schedule available services.
Donations are accepted and your support is deeply appreciated.