Susan’s story


Susan Z.
Sobriety date: 09/24/2016

My name is Susan and I am an alcoholic. I grew up in Northfield Village Ohio. I had two parents and a brother growing up. Everything was great until I was about 14 years old when I found out my father was not my biological father. I immediately started rebelling and getting into trouble I got pregnant and had my daughter at 15 years old, got married at 16, and had my son at 19. 

That marriage did not work out because he was abusive. I met someone else and had my youngest daughter at 22. I married this man and, as it turned out, he was abusive also, but I stayed with him for 12 years. After we split and I moved out, I played the victim feeling sorry for myself and using many excuses to do the things I was doing. By this time I was 31 years old, never had picked up drugs of any sort, but drank on occasion, and when I did it was to blackout to stop my brain from thinking.

In between this time I had a failed relationship with my real father. He basically told me I had no place in his life. So, with many resentments, and a lot of anger issues I had built up over the years, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I met this guy with a ton of prison numbers, and it was game on from there. He introduced me to a life I knew nothing about. It was fun until it wasn’t fun anymore. I noticed a change in myself and took my kids to my ex-husband and told him I would be back for them. They were for 8, 12 and 16 years old at the time. I never went back. 

I was experimenting with every drug out there until heroin was laid in my hand. I was in love, and it took me exactly where I wanted to be. The progression of this disease and my intense heroin addiction kept me out there for 15 years straight. I never once looked back. I didn’t care and thought I was only hurting myself. The legal consequences started coming and the only time I was ever sober was when I sat in county jail for small periods of time. The homelessness, the desperation, missing every milestone in my children’s lives for all those years. The street life was the only thing I knew at the time. I was selfish and self-absorbed. Heroin was my higher power. The last five years of active addiction, I didn’t even speak to my own mother. 

In September 2016, I believe I had my moment of clarity.

I knew something had to change or I was going to die. I contacted the person that introduced me to this life because he was now sober. He said he was an Alumni of the Ed Keating Center and his daughter is an Alumni of the Jean Marie House. I had no idea what any of that meant, but they did what they said they were going to do, and they helped me. On September 27, 2016 I arrived at the Jean Marie House, desperate and perfectly broken, knowing nothing about sober houses, recovery or 12-step programs–I was scared.

The Jean Marie House did exactly what it was designed to do. It gave me a foundation, my support group, and introduced me to the 12-step program that I needed so badly in my life. I am blessed to have the army of women that stand behind that house and what it stands for, and the Director, Katie Patton herself, for giving me that one chance I needed to change my life for the better. The Jean Marie House and a 12-step program has literally saved my life, and the gratitude I have for it is unmeasurable. Today, the things I’ve gotten back are countless. I am present today. I am a daughter, mother, grandmother and friend. I have the same job from when I transitioned at Jean Marie. I have been able to move up to a management position. People actually trust me today and I am accountable. I am still willing and do what I’m asked to do. I have a sponsor, I follow directions and take suggestions even when I do not want to. I sponsor women today and that’s a privilege…to be able to give back what was so freely given to me.


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