24 Jul Cindy reminds us “Please stop the criminalization of addictions”
My name is Cindy and I am very grateful to have an opportunity to share my story with you. I grew up in Portland Oregon, have spent most of my life here. I love our fair city, primarily because I am an avid bike rider and love the outdoors. I especially love using our accommodating bike pathways for my daily commute. I am a primary care giver for my elderly mother who is now ninety years old. I find a great deal of enjoyment in having the privilege to care for the women who cared for me. I love arts and crafts because it allows me to express my appreciation to others in a tangible way. I give back to the community on a regular basis through a variety of volunteer commitments; with this process, I have established a positive work ethic.
I have not always had the privilege to contribute to the community in this way. I have suffered from substance use disorder and that spiraled into my gambling addiction. My lifestyle led to addiction driven crime and I was totally out of control.
In 2011, I was at the bottom of the worst downward spiral that I had ever experienced. Arrested for embellishment of company funds at our family business, I suffered a great deal guilt and shame at having victimized my brother but I just could not seem to control myself.
I knew I needed help for my addiction but did not know how to get it. While incarcerated, there were very few services available to address my addictions issues. I learned to advocate for services and to ask for help. I managed to get into one of the only two treatment services available for people who live in prison, Turning Point.
This program completely changed my life. I feel a great deal of sadness for the numerous women in prison who cannot get into programs because there are so few available beds. I am grateful for the services that were available for me but there definitely needs to be more.
After I released from the women’s correctional facility in January and I had the privilege of drug free housing at Bridges to Change, only because of a referral from my prison-based treatment.
I was able to access several programs that helped me; the cognitive behavior program did a lot to open my eyes to my past behaviors and develop a plan to change and an action plan to set goals and a path to accomplish my goals.
With this kind of support people who re-enter the community after prison are much more likely to be successful. Investing dollars to help people overcome their addictions and conquer a life of recovery.
It is difficult to find jobs with my past, however I am doing everything I can to live a life of recovery. One of my best moments of my recovery was to welcome my son home from active duty very recently.
While he was fighting for our county, I was winning victory from my past.
We need funding for individualized job placement for people with criminal backgrounds that are trying to move forward and be a good and responsible citizen. Please help us stop the criminalization of addictions and bring more funding to treatment services.