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Samantha F., Medication Assisted Treatment

April 4, 2011

On October 5, 2009, Samantha F. made a decision: she was going to get clean, no matter what it took. “I was in jail,” she remembers. “I was there every day—they were sick of me. And I just had this vision: I saw myself in a dumpster, dead. And I knew that if I didn’t get help, I really would end up like that.” Samantha is a young woman with a bright future. She wants to go to college, perhaps to become a counselor. She likes reading, “especially urban legends and romances,” and writing poetry. She loves music, “mostly R&B, but also rap and alternative.” But the obstacles she has overcome to get where she is now separate her from many of her peers.

At thirteen, Samantha became involved in a relationship with the twenty-nine-year-old stepfather of a friend. “I was teased a lot in school,” she says. “I thought I was ugly. He was the first person who told me I was beautiful.” Samantha felt unable to tell anyone what was happening. “I wanted to tell my mother,” she says, “but I just couldn’t.” Instead, she drank, and was soon diagnosed as an alcoholic. She began self-harming, attempted suicide, and was hospitalized multiple times.

Samantha’s mother, overwhelmed, turned her over to the Department of Child and Family Services—so she ran away. At sixteen, she began using heroin and crack, working as a prostitute to support her habit; she was raped more than once and had frequent run-ins with the law. She overdosed repeatedly, and was once declared clinically dead. “It’s a miracle I’m still alive,” she admits.
Samantha began to turn her life around when she met her husband of three years. “He saved me,” she says. “He’s always been there for me, and I wanted to be there for him. When I met him, I threw my pipe away—literally. It broke. I told him I didn’t need it anymore.” But although Samantha stopped using crack, she was unable to overcome her addiction to heroin. “That was my real problem,” she admits. “I tried, but I got so sick. I just couldn’t do it on my own.” Samantha’s resolution finally prompted her to seek medication-assisted therapy, something she was reluctant to do. “It seemed like starting another drug,” she explains, “and I didn’t want to ask for help.”

At HAS/NEXA, however, Samantha has thrived. She has been clean for over a year and hopes to have completed treatment by next summer. In addition to the methadone itself, Samantha states that the counseling she receives at HAS/NEXA has been critical to her recovery. “It’s so helpful. I can tell them about anything and get feedback. Getting stuff out and processing it keeps me sane.”

Getting the treatment that finally allowed her to enter recovery began a series of positive changes for Samantha. She and her husband are now the parents of a healthy baby girl. She has completed her GED and been accepted for an apartment in a new CHA Mixed Income development. She has also reestablished relationships with her mother, brother, and sister. “Together with the baby, being clean brought my family together,” she says.

In the future, Samantha hopes to help other young women avoid what she has experienced. “I had to learn the hard way,” she states. “I can tell them that their true friends aren’t the ones who encourage them to drink and use drugs. There’s nothing down that road except jail, institutions, and death. What I’ve been through made me stronger, but I don’t want anyone else to go through it.”