Recovery Stories

Posted by Prelude on Sep 28, 2015 8:52:00 AM

StoriesRecovery Stories

Prelude celebrates those in recovery by offering hope to others who are struggling with substance abuse. The following stories were written about a few of the thousands of people who have changed their lives at Prelude. Like you, they too were at “Day One” of the journey and wondering if they had the strength to change their lives. We hope you will find your inner strength by hearing their stories. 


When Jan’s roommate asked her to stop bringing the people she was partying with to their apartment, it seemed like a simple enough request.  She understood her roommate being uncomfortable with noise and the people. And Jan had a simple solution: she took herself to the party instead of bringing it home with her. She had always used crack cocaine in the safety of her own home, but now she was moving beyond her own four walls.  Early one Monday morning she woke up after a two-day binge.  She was on a stranger’s couch, totally alone in a strange apartment.   Not remembering where she was or who else had been there, she was terrified. The experience scared her enough to get help.

JanShe went home, changed clothes and drove straight to Prelude.  Her initial recommendation was to enter our residential program, but she had to keep her job, which she knew she was still lucky to have, in order to make ends meet.  Instead, she started our Intensive Outpatient Program.  Four nights a week, she would face another experience that was beyond her comfort zone—a life of sobriety.  This time she embraced the experience, because even though it also scared her, she had to do it to live.

All through treatment, she admits she thought of using.  She had dreams about it.  Her counselors listened and supported her through those tough times. Her roommate, who had complained about strangers in the house now became her lifeline at home, often acting as a ‘doorman’ and sending away the people from her using the past when she couldn’t face them alone. If it hadn’t been for her counselors and roommate, she says she would never have made it.

She completed our Intensive Outpatient Program and for a while attended continuing care groups, all the while building herself a solid foundation in the recovery community by attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and getting a sponsor. 

Jan recently celebrated her year anniversary of sobriety.  While she no longer attends groups at Prelude, she still stays in touch, calling her counselors just to say hello and let them know she’s doing okay. She’s gained a lot in her life—a new job, a bank account, a new sense of responsibility and a new perspective. She sees people from her ‘old life’ and instead of thoughts of using drugs herself she realizes she doesn’t want to go back to that life.  Most importantly, she’s gained a new relationship with her Dad, whom she says finally has a reason to be proud of her, and tells her he is all the time. When asked how her life has changed since she’s been clean, Jan has a simple reply, “I have one now.”


Jenny knew what it was to have a life.  She ran her own business.  She had family and friends. She also had a meth addiction.  She thought she covered it well.  Since she was her own boss, there was no one to notice if she was late to work.  Being the only supervisor, though, and high most of the time, there was also no one to notice when one of her employees embezzled thousands of dollars. People told her she looked great.  They didn’t know that the weight she had dropped and the new found energy were the results of the meth.

But her family noticed. Her daughters would ask where she was going, and she would snap back that she was going to hell.  


She wasn’t far off…she was going to cook meth. Finally, her family had her committed, and the bottom dropped out when the Sheriff came into her business and took her to Detox. She stayed there for three days without saying a word, and when she finally did speak, it was to curse the staff.  On the fifth day, she went before the judge who wanted her to go to Residential, but would agree to Intensive Outpatient.

There were a lot of things to work out.  She felt shame about her drug use and her treatment of her daughters.  She was in a relationship she referred to as poison. Her business was in jeopardy. She says the addiction to meth had her at ‘a cellular level.' Nothing else mattered.

At Prelude, she found a sympathetic ear, and a counselor she says, ‘knew where she came from.”  There was no judgment, and nothing but compassion, and a lot of work, ahead, but with some help she could start to remember what it was to have a life again, and worked with that knowledge as a goal.

Now off meth for three years, Jenny is starting to rebuild her business.  She knows her relationships with her kids have suffered and is still working on feeling like a mother again.  She is still attending aftercare because she feels it centers her. She is aware that there is always a risk of relapse, but the knowledge of her thought processes around drug use have changed enough that just recognizing the risk is an achievement. She now knows that she has a place to help at Prelude.  She knows she will always be welcome, and we are there as long as she needs us.


Ken dodged a bullet. Almost literally. A high-speed car chase ended in a standoff.  On the run from drug charges, he found himself surrounded by police with guns drawn. It was like something out of a movie; only at that point, a Hollywood ending didn’t seem possible. The best he could hope for was a peaceful conclusion.

That’s when things started to get better, although it would take a while before Ken would see it that way. Ken was arrested without gunfire, and court ordered to Prelude.  He didn’t see then how tragically it could have ended, nor did he really buy into the treatment idea.  Still, he thought, it’s better than jail, and it might make the sentencing judge go easier on him. He came to Prelude’s Residential in body, but in spirit he was biding his time.

KenVisiting time was Saturday afternoon, and he always looked forward to it—it was a break from groups, and he got to see his five-year-old daughter. One of her first questions was always “When are you coming home?”  He didn’t know, and he told her as much.  He had promised himself that he would never lie to her. One Saturday she asked him why he was staying there. It wasn’t jail. That was easy to understand, and he could always proclaim his innocence.  It was like a hospital, but his illness would be a lot harder for her to understand than a broken leg or heart attack. Despite his promise, he didn’t know how to tell her the truth.

It was then he decided that maybe he should start seriously considering his recovery. Ken completed Prelude’s residential treatment program and started re-building his life in our Halfway House. Once he was on his own, not only did he visit his probation officer on a weekly basis, he found himself at aftercare groups.  Not because he had to.  He did it because recovery was hard work, and he needed, and welcomed the support. 

Today, three years later, he is sober and working.  He was recently enrolled in a management training program at his job and is looking at moving his way up.  He knows that life doesn’t always have happy endings or tidy conclusions, but now he sees his life just as life, not a tragedy in the works. Most importantly, he’s becoming the truthful father he always wanted to be, and someone his daughter can depend on. For us, he’s proof that treatment works.  He is a reason for hope. 


What makes a person initiate a change in their life?  Does it come from within?  Of course. Are there external motivators? Absolutely.  In Matt’s case, change was motivated from both places. 


Matt had been drinking for almost half his life.  In fifteen years, he hadn’t had more than two days sober. Yet, he maintained a sense of normalcy:  he held a job, met a girl, got married, and they had a baby.  It was after the baby came that he began to see his strongest external motivator—his family.  His wife asked him to come to Prelude for an evaluation.   His internal motivation got him in the door.   His reasons to change were all around him, and he knew it was time.

Matt came to Residential and did well.  He went on to our Halfway House and then Transitional Housing programs.  With more freedom came challenges.  He had a relapse, but chose to refocus and returned to treatment. Prelude welcomed him back and helped him move on from his temporary setback and regain his momentum.

After fifteen years, today Matt is sober and knows his reasons for staying that way are good ones. He strives to be the best husband and father he can be, and with a second baby on the way, has a renewed sense of excitement about being a good Dad.  Before treatment, Matt felt like he had a million reasons and motivations to drink.  Now he realizes the only truly important motivation—his family-- is the best reason to stay sober.

Cynthia (in her own words)

I was 51 years old by the time I reached Prelude. Alcohol and drugs were a part of my life for over 30 years.

I’ll never forget the day I walked through those doors.  I was so scared and so broken down by then I knew this was my last chance, or I would die.  The first person I came into contact with was the nurse.  She put her arm around me and told me that everything will be okay. I clung to her words; she was so kind and caring.  I was then taken to my room and introduced to my roommates.  I’ll never forget the fear I felt at that point. I knew I couldn’t live with or without drugs and alcohol and didn’t know if anyone was capable of ‘fixing’ me.   All the shame and guilt of my life was becoming a reality, and all I could do was cry.

CynthiaThe next day I met my counselor who I immediately felt a connection to.  She was so compassionate, and I felt like for the first time in a long while I was worthwhile.  Every day got a little easier and I became stronger, really starting to believe what my counselor and other staff were telling me, that I could live and be happy without drugs and alcohol. Every time I saw my counselor the guilt and shame became less and less and I told her everything and how I desperately wanted my children and family in my life. Through the years, I had slowly but surely alienated myself from the people who I love and love me. I had lost all their trust and really became nothing more than an embarrassment.  My children would not let me have my grandchildren without supervision.

I’d lost count of how many places I lived and how many jobs I’d lost by the time I reached treatment. I only had the clothes on my back and a small suitcase—I’d lost everything.  That’s where my addiction had taken me. 

Toward the end of my 28 days, my counselor suggested I go to a halfway house.  By this time, I trusted her completely to know what was best for me.  I ended up living there for a year.  I moved into my ‘first’ little apartment, I had a job for as long as I’d been there, plus I hadn’t missed a day’s work in almost a year’s time. I enrolled into community college and started school. Through this whole process, I discovered a passion for helping other women find recovery.  I now work for a treatment center and have the privilege of lending my expertise and life experience to others in need. Life comes full circle.

 Prelude Iowa: Treatment and recovery for addiction problems. Addiction help Iowa.

Topics: Recovery

We're Here to Help.

At Prelude, we work tirelessly to improve the lives of individuals, their families, and members of their communities.

From prevention to intensive residential care, Prelude offers a range of services to help you and your loved one lead a full, productive life.  Prelude Behavioral Services has been providing comprehensive services since 1969. We are committed to serving hard-to-reach and disenfranchised populations and to breaking down barriers that hinder access to behavioral health care for all Iowans.



Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts