When Stephanie Pleasants looks back on her life, she acknowledges, “There’s no reason why I should be alive today, but Healing Transitions gave me a life to look forward to in recovery. My calling is to provide the hope they gave me. I tried to stop using drugs and alcohol on my own, but now I know it takes a village to help someone recover.”
She describes her childhood as loving but troubled. Her parents were both in the military, and while life was good on the horse farm she grew up on, it was also difficult. Her father faced his own battles with alcoholism and would often take his two young daughters to the local bar where he hung out with his friends.
“Every once in a while, we would grab a drink from them,” Stephanie recalls. “It seemed like fun.”
Stephanie and her friends wanted to do what they saw their parents doing, so they would grab a drink, ride four-wheelers and go horseback riding – just like their parents.
Eventually, her father’s addiction progressed, and tragically, he committed suicide when Stephanie was 15 years old.
“I think that’s when my life started to spiral,” she says. “Seeing my father laying on the ground, seeing what he’d done to himself. I still hold that vividly in my mind. It marked me.”
The traumatic event spurred on even more partying and drinking, and while Stephanie says her mother tried to do everything she could to help her children, she was facing her own struggles trying to work through the grief of her husband’s death while raising two young children as a single parent.
“I didn’t really have any resources to go to counseling or anything like that,” says Stephanie. “I just woke up one day and realized I needed drugs and alcohol to keep going, to be able to function. It progressed so fast for me and before I knew it, several years had gone by, and I’d been swallowed up by my addiction.”
Five years later after her father’s death, Stephanie was homeless and in prison. Eventually, she was released, but she didn’t know where to turn for help.
“When I got out of prison, I was trying to make a change, but I didn’t know what change looked like. I didn’t know about recovery programs. I was trying to get a job, but it was very challenging,” she remembers.
As she began to try to pick up the pieces of her life, she decided to move to Detroit with her partner.
“That was a horrible mistake,” she says. “I was white-knuckling [my recovery]. Trying to do it by myself. And instead, I just started using drugs and alcohol again.”
She remembers her addiction “snowballing,” and for the next several years, she continued struggling with substance use. Eventually, she decided that moving back to North Carolina to be closer to family might help her finally get into recovery.
“By this point, I had a daughter, and I couldn’t take care of her,” says Stephanie. “My mom had always been my anchor, and now I felt like I was losing everything that I cared about, everyone that I loved.”
Her addiction had taken hold of her life and wasn’t letting go until she reached her rock bottom moment.
“I was driving to work one day, and I just started crying. I can’t really say why it was that moment, but I knew I wanted something different and something more for my life. I just wanted that syringe out of my arm,” she recalls.
Stephanie’s sister found Healing Transitions, but at first, she didn’t want to come.
“I saw how long the program was, and I didn’t want to come, so I went to another detox center instead. It was only like a week, and when I got out, I was just a few weeks sober, and I told myself, ‘I’m fixed.’ But of course, it wasn’t long enough, and I ended up back in the spiral of my addiction.”
She continued this cycle of entering a detox program for a few weeks, leaving and starting to use drugs and alcohol again, and then entering another program, until she was able to acknowledge to herself that she needed something more.
“I was able to take a deep breath, walk into Healing Transitions, stop trying to make my own plans for recovery and let someone else help me. It was hard. I kept telling myself I was going to leave the next day, and I did that for about three weeks, and then three months, and then I realized I was staying.”
Stephanie celebrates her first day of sobriety on October 12.
“That’s the day I didn’t have to put a syringe in my arm to live,” she says. “My peers kept me in this community at Healing Transitions. I learned more about the disease, about the stories I was telling myself in my addiction. I learned that it takes a village to help someone. I finally got the appropriate help I needed.”
After Stephanie completed the program, she started volunteering at Healing Transitions.
“I was trying to find my calling in life,” she remembers. “I was asking myself, ‘What am I here for?’ and ‘What am I supposed to do?’”
Last year, Stephanie graduated from Wake Tech Community College with her associate’s degree and became certified as a Peer Support Specialist at Healing Transitions.
Today, she oversees Healing Transitions’ Rapid Responder team, helping connect individuals who experience an overdose with local recovery support services in the area, including the programs available at Healing Transitions.
“I love it. I love being in the trenches. I love being able to reach out to people and just to be able to provide hope,” she says fondly. “Now I know I want to work in recovery and help someone else, just like they helped me.”
Stephanie says her life today looks like nothing she could’ve ever imagined. She’s engaged, recently closed on her first home, and raising her daughter.
“My daughter has her mom, and I’m connected with my family now. I’m not the one causing problems anymore. It’s amazing.”
As for her next steps? She’s looking to begin college soon and hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree to continue working with individuals in recovery for the rest of her life. Thanks in part to her time at Healing Transitions, she’s found her life’s calling and hope for her future.
Many women in our community are looking for the hope of recovery that Stephanie found at Healing Transitions. For just $55 a day, you can reunite families, inspire courage, and change the lives of women through one day of on-demand recovery access. Give today!