INTC Podcast: Overcoming Addiction featuring Sabrina Stewart
September is National Recovery Month. Addiction is one of the leading diseases that contribute to the death of many people. According to Addiction Center:
- Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment.
- Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990.
- From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug.
- Alcohol and drug addiction cost the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year.
- In 2017, 34.2 million Americans committed DUI, 21.4 million under the influence of alcohol and 12.8 million under the influence of drugs.
- About 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder.
- More than 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18 years old.
- Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are most likely to use addictive drugs
This episode, we sit down with Sabrina Stewart as she details her journey to recovery.
Sabrina, better known as Bri, has lived a challenging life. Originally from Inglewood, California, Bri was raised by her adopted mother because her biological parents both suffered from addiction. She constantly ran away from home, so she was placed in the system at a young age. Bouncing from group home to group home, Bri eventually got arrested and sent to a few juvenile detention centers. Her mother had enough of her reckless behavior.
By the time Bri was 18, she emancipated herself from G.L.A.S.S., a group home for Lesbian, Transgender and Gay individuals. She was placed in a transitional living facility where her life seemed to be going great, until she met a young lady who changed it forever. Bri was introduced to crack cocaine by the age of 19. Her life took a turn for the worse. She ran the streets of Los Angeles like there was no tomorrow. Prison became her second home. She did whatever it took to chase the high, including prostitution, robbing Johns, and stealing from stores. Her life was going nowhere fast and she really didn’t care. She went to a couple of treatment centers but she wasn’t fully ready to kick the addiction.
Bri’s second release from prison was her breaking point. She received a visit from a close cousin of hers who found her through a young man that worked in the police department. When she came, no words were exchanged, just a program in her hand that had a picture of Bri’s mother on it. She passed away while Bri was incarcerated. Something about that day made her look at her life from a different perspective and it resulted in Bri wanting more for herself. The loss of her mother was heartbreaking because she realized she’d never have a chance to say she’s sorry for all the things she put her through.
Because Bri believed that actions spoke louder than words, she decided to stay clean for her mother and the other the people struggling with addiction. After her release from prison, she went to The Walter Hoving Home in Pasadena, California. The faith-based house kicked her out because of her sexual orientation. Bri wasn’t willing to change her lifestyle in order to stay at the facility. She moved in with her aunt and decided to go back to school. Finding employment was difficult, but she was determined not to go back to her old life. Bri attended the Associated Technical College and received her certification in Telecommunications, Business Office Administration and Medical Assistant/Cardiac Tech. After taking all those classes she landed a job as the college’s printshop technician. She wasn’t sure what direction her life would take, so she continued to take odd jobs. It kept her busy and out of trouble. She eventually found stable employment with Coach USA driving for Amtrak.
Bri’s journey has been tough, but she is thankful to have made it through. She gives my angel (which is my mom) my wife cheri and my higher power. I can truly say that I’ve been blessed above and beyond.
Take a listen to episode 8.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)