At nineteen, Whitney is wise beyond her years and acknowledges that recovery isn’t easy. “I want people to know that it’s not as simple as just not using,” she noted. “You really have to dig into how you’re feeling mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You have to deal with things from your childhood and your self-esteem, but you don’t have to handle it all on your own.”
Today, Whitney has found her purpose in recovery at Somerset House, our program in Appleton for women. But, like all people in recovery, her personal journey is complex and challenging. Whitney first started using when she was 15, and it didn’t take long before she found herself in full-fledged addiction. “I had a lot of self-doubt and never really believed in myself,” she explained.
Last year, she was arrested and spent a month and a half in jail due to charges related to heroin. A local drug court mandated her to find treatment, and Whitney began a program in West Seneca. The program was extremely helpful, and she graduated with high expectations for herself.
Whitney’s next step involved a supportive living program in the southern tier of Western New York. While there, she relapsed with heroin. “Honestly, when the police arrived, I was relieved,” she noted. “I felt ashamed, guilty, and embarrassed. I didn’t realize how big my ego was at that point.” While this was a major low point for her, she was surprised at the reactions of her friends and family. “Everyone had open arms and empathy after I relapsed,” Whitney said. This compassion made it much easier for her to continue her recovery.
Life at Somerset House
After her relapse, she went back to the program in West Seneca. Once again, she did well. Whitney then admitted to Somerset House. “I think I’ve grown a lot while being here,” she said. “I can talk about things more openly now.” Whitney credited her counselor, Linda Werth, for helping her connect with new aspects of herself. “She really motivates me.” The program’s groups and counselling sessions have helped her to open her mind and find more self-awareness. “Somerset House has taught me how to be more responsible,” she explained.
At the moment, Whitney is getting ready to move into one of our Supportive Living apartments in Buffalo. Bob Davis, our Supportive Living vocational specialist, has already lent some help to Whitney. “He’s helped me with my resume, and he’s connected me with Access-VR’s Women in Technology program.” Her next steps involve enrolling at Erie Community College for computer programming. “I think everyone has a purpose,” she said. “I take a positive look at what happened to me, and I know that everything happens for a reason.”