From the March 1992 magazine.

A Change for the Better

At seventeen years old, I had my first baby, received my first welfare check, and started drinking and using drugs. For the next ten years, my drinking and drugging progressed to daily using and I had a total of three children. On Good Friday, after seeing my mother in the hospital, I experienced my first major blackout which lasted two days. When I got home I finished my children's Easter dresses and sent them to church. I felt so scared, embarrassed, and ashamed. I went to see my doctor and he suggested very strongly that I go into a treatment program and complete it. He also told me that he had sent five other black women there and they didn't finish. His last statement to me was that the people at the treatment center could help me if I let them.

When I went into treatment, my mother kept my children for me. I was in treatment with about thirty-one other people, more whites than blacks, more men than women. They were all older than me. All the while I was in treatment I thought I was different. If I was asked if I was prejudiced, I would deny it. When I completed treatment, I took the book Living Sober with me, thinking I could do it on my own, even though I had met four recovering blacks who were telling me that I needed to go to meetings because I couldn't do it alone. I was given a sponsor and I was told to go to her house every day to read recovery literature with her over coffee.

-- Juanita

Peoria, Illinois

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