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  July 4, 2012      
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Deborah Arch-Bennett

My story begins here ... December 5, 2004

My story is more about addictive behaviors than the drugs. But the drugs were there. Early in my life, the behaviors were present. I hated everything about my life; not in content but in feeling. I loved my sisters, but I wanted to be white. Everybody outside of our family was white. We lived in an all-white neighborhood and went to an all-white school. I loved my parents, but my dad touched me and my mom wouldn't help. This is a simplified version of a very dysfunctional family.

My first behaviors were fantasy because if I could pretend to be somebody else or somewhere else, I would be OK. By age 17 and after many suicide attempts, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. At age18, I became pregnant for the first time and was forced to marry someone who was not the baby's father because my family did not approve of him. By age 20, I was getting a divorce from this very abusive man, and I was pregnant again. This is where alcohol came into the picture. You can't do a lot of pretending when you have kids, so I quickly found out that I could "not be me" when I was drinking. My drinking took me into many abusive relationships, two more abusive marriages and three more children. In 2002, I moved back to New York from California — broken, depressed and divorced for the third time. I tried to pull it together and stopped using drugs or alcohol, but by 2003, I found crack and I did not have to be depressed anymore ... or so I thought.

By December 2004, my life was in ruins. I had lost my car, my job, had no electricity, no water and was arrested for credit card fraud. I was a 48-year-old "crack head," and I wanted to die. By some miracle my brother picked me up from jail. I told him I needed help. He refused. At some point a few minutes later, the words, "I am a crack head and a thief and I need help!" came out of my mouth. I didn't realize it until some time later, but I had completely surrendered on December 5, 2004. I have found no reason to use any drugs or alcohol since. My recovery has taken me in and out of relationships (still co-dependent) and in and out of depression (was on medication for five years), but recovery is so much better than addiction.

Today, I am two years and one month off cigarettes, three months off caffeine and I just graduated (7/10/10) from OTI with my Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor-Trainee (CASAC-T) pending. I am proof, at 54 years old that it is never too late to turn your life around. I came from being a molested, angry child to a substance abuse counselor in just five and a half years.

It is truly a miracle and I am so blessed. I will be pursuing my bachelor's degree in social work come spring and my master's degree in family counseling after that. My goal is to help Native-American families heal from addiction.

My name is Deborah. This is my story. What's Your Story?


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