Trying to sift through 30 or so pages of notes of my day spent with 19 brave women in the midst of treatment at Karen’s Place, I come to the following conclusions: Addiction does not discriminate and that there are many stories, many roads to where these women came from, but there’s one destination — recovery.
Rebekah Deahl, 27, of Bristol, Tenn., did not fit my preconceived idea of an addict. She grew up with everything. Her parents were medical professionals, and she seemed to be on destined path of success.
Despite having everything on the outside, there was something missing. That void led to an eating disorder, specifically bulimia, and that led to a personal decline that resulted in addictions to drugs and prescription painkillers.
Her story is detailed, from contemplating, and in her words being rescued, from an abortion, to adultery and watching her then-boyfriend’s brother being bludgeoned to death by a baseball bat.
It’s enough for a 1,000 lifetimes, but despite the bad turns, she completed an undergraduate degree and worked as a social worker, a healthcare programmer and for the federal corrections system.
“There were times I went to work high,” she admitted. “It was my fix.”
She experimented with treatment, including Methadone and Suboxone.
“I used that treatment to my advantage to stay high,” she said. “I was going out of control. There’s periods of my life I don’t remember a thing.”
In July of last year, she overdosed on a cocktail of prescription drugs, but that didn’t stop her. She had married an Iraqi-war veteran who adopted her daughter.
However, it was another near death experience — this one a car accident, that moved her closer to recovery.
“It was half me, and half my parents,” said Deahl. “I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I couldn’t get clean by myself.”
On top of the addiction, her marriage was failing as an affair with a cocaine dealer during this time had another aspect of her personal life in limbo.
“My husband visited last month, and I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get out of here,” she said. “I’m prepared for whatever, but I know he knows that I am sorry and that was not the same person he fell in love with.”
Deahl has had sober periods over the years, but knows this is a different path — a path of deliverance.
She’s been at Karen’s Place for five months and will leave sometime this month.
“I’m excited for what the future holds,” Deahl said.
When asked about her daughter, she got emotional: “I’m looking forward to the birthdays, the trips to the mall and the relationship free from any drugs,” she said, wiping away tears. “My daughter has big plans for us, like going to see the Easter Bunny and other things. Those are the things I missed, and those are things I look forward to in the future.”
The biggest misconception I had about treatment was the structure. I guess I thought it was a 12-hour-a-day therapy session versus a 12-step process or other therapy models.
It’s not. Instead, it’s a lesson in life and being given the blueprint of living. It’s about perspective and putting what’s important in it to serve as the motivation to move forward on the path that’s right and prosperous.
And finally, it was a message of faith: a message of not only love from a higher power, but the power of the human spirit to care for one another despite your past, despite your upbringing and despite your circumstances.
My day on the mountain left me inspired that those at Karen’s Place are on the frontlines of fighting the epidemic that has destroyed lives, homes, families and the futures of so many. They are righting the wrongs of so many through compassion, love and faith.
We could all use a little time on the mountain counting our blessings.
JOSH BALL is a freelance writer from Paintsville. His “In Their Shoes” segments runs on occasional Sundays throughout the year. Read him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an idea.