Celebrating Hope and Transformation:

Jesse’s story of her quest to belong

From a young age, Jesse embarked on a quest for belonging, relief from anxiety, and a tranquil existence, yearning to escape the loneliness that enveloped her home life. In pursuit of these comforts, she ventured down a shadowed path of substance abuse.

Alcohol initially seemed like the antidote to her isolation, giving her the illusion of camaraderie and temporary relief from her internal turmoil. Jesse felt a semblance of happiness in this new lifestyle fleeting distractions from her inner struggles and a newfound confidence she had longed for.

This was the beginning of Jesse’s journey through addiction. Soon after embracing alcohol, she began experimenting with marijuana and cocaine during her high school years. She confided, “Cocaine gave me the confidence that I craved my whole life, so I found it to be what truly started my addiction.”

A 4.0 student with a passion for learning, Jesse embarked on her college journey, brimming with excitement. However, her addiction, introduced a new vice – pain pills. This marked the pivotal turning point when her addiction commandeered every facet of her life.

Jesse recollects, “It happened so quickly. Pain pills led to drinking more and no longer just partying but using [drugs] to get through the day. I remember the day it happened. I was asked, ‘Hey do you want to try this?’ It was meth. I knew that any kind of drug would make me feel better and happier at this time, so I did it.”

Gradually, Jesse’s life became consumed by her substance use. She bartended while indulging in alcohol during work hours, and meth became her companion for sleepless nights spent studying. She tragically flunked out of college, as her addiction flourished, overshadowing her passion for education and life. All that mattered was getting high.

Residing in a destitute trailer without basic amenities, Jesse sold meth to make ends meet while maintaining the facade of a “functioning” addict. It was here that she hit rock bottom.

At this critical moment, Jesse realized it was time to change, yet she questioned her capacity to do it on her own. To her surprise, she found herself in a jail cell instead.

“I remember riding in the back of a cop car on the way to jail and thinking ‘How did someone that had so much charisma and desire for life end up here?’ It didn’t seem real to me,” Jesse recounted.

A year inside those confining jail walls compelled Jesse to confront her own choices and accept responsibility for her predicament. She longed for a life free from the shackles of addiction, but the path forward remained uncertain.

During her time in jail, Jesse requested a list of treatment centers and reached out to every one of them. Volunteers of America (VOA) promptly responded, offering her the first steps toward recovery.

“Walking into treatment was the scariest thing I have ever done. It was the most terrifying day of my life but turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made,”Jesse affirmed.

During her time in treatment, Jesse regained her lost confidence, the very quality she had sought during the start of her addiction many years ago. VOA provided her with the foundation for sobriety and taught her that she could thrive in life, rather than being broken and enslaved by her addiction.

“VOA acted as a guardrail for me when I was headed around the steep curve of my addiction,” she gratefully acknowledged.

During Jesse’s sentencing, a pivotal moment unfolded when the judge remarked, “You strike me as someone who will one day be speaking to men and women about addiction and why not to do drugs.” Little did she know that this was the precise path her life would travel down. A year after completing her treatment, Jesse assumed the role of a Recovery Health Technician for VOA.

Jesse shared, “Working for VOA offered me the platform to help others and utilize my experience through addiction as a positive light for others, instead of being ashamed of what I had been through.”

Volunteers of America equipped Jesse with the tools she needed to forge a successful, sober, and joyful existence. She discovered how to nourish her soul in a healthy way during her time in treatment and has continued to do so as a dedicated employee. She grasped the significance of self-care and prioritizing her well-being. Jesse is now a dedicated trail runner and weightlifter, tools she adopted during her time in treatment.

Jesse extends her profound gratitude to everyone who played a role in her recovery journey and her career at VOA. That includes every single donor, volunteer, and employee. Without the unwavering support she received, she believes she might not be here today.

Today, Jesse has earned a degree in psychology and also serves as a Recruiter for VOA. She married the love of her life, and continues to prioritize her sobriety and well-being.

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