My name is Violet Fitzgerald. I guess I was introduced to drugs and alcohol when Iwas 13 years of age that’s when I started drinking alcohol. Then smoking weed (marijuana) because my friends were smoking, actually I started smoking with my next door neighbor. I did that off and on for a little while and then I stopped smoking marijuana. Around the time I turned 16 years old my mother passed and when my mother died that’s when my addiction really set in as far as drinking and smoking. I started using drugs and alcohol, trying to cope with the death of my mother and 6 months later after my mother’s death my grandmother passed away. There, I felt all alone and I really started the drinking and the smoking and I started using other drugs. I got married at the age of 18 and my husband, he was a user too, so he turned me on to a lot of different drugs. My drug use became heavy and it continued through my 20s but by then I had lost control and could not stop.
During my heavy use I was living in New York. Later, I moved with my family to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I figured that if I changed areas, I would stop using completely, but that didn’t last long. I stopped for a couple of years after we got here but then I continued to use, I met some friends in the area and they were drinkers and I started back drinking real heavy just for fun, just to party, I thought. Then my drinking started escalating to going back to using drugs; I snorted cocaine, smoked marijuana, and then after that, by that time crack cocaine was on the scene and I started using that real heavy. That’s when my addiction spiraled out of control and I lost everything. I really got addicted, I guess that was about from 1985-1995, that’s when my drug use really took a toll on me and my family’s life.
The most damaging part of my addiction besides what it did to my life is the hard parts: leaving my family, leaving my children behind-because I was addicted, being out on the streets—I could have went back home but the fact that I couldn’t do it because my addiction, wouldn’t let me go. I just basically wanted to be out on the streets. I lost jobs, my home, and my family to a certain degree.
I started going to treatment programs. I knew I had a problem but I was in denial for a long time. I figured that if I did it certain times, did a little of this, a little of that, it wouldn’t be as bad, but it got progressively worse. Then I started going to treatment programs, and I guess I wasn’t really ready to stop using, because I would come out of the treatment programs and I would use all over again. I went to like 3 different programs and when I came to Samaritan Inns it was the 4th program. By that time I was just really tired; tired of using, tired of living the lifestyle I was using. Then I started hearing things, you know, I started getting the help that I needed. I guess I was finally open to taking responsibility for my addiction. In the 28 day program (Intensive Recovery Program) my counselor used to ask me everyday, ‘Why was I here?’ and I told her I just didn’t want to live the way I was living. I wanted to change my life, do something different. I didn’t want to live that lifestyle anymore. And those words stayed with me while I was in the Program.
I went to the 28 day program and then I went to transition for 6 months and I stayed there, and you know I really felt like I did what I had to do because I wanted to get my life together before I wasn’t able to. Then I left the transition (Transitional Living Program) and then I came to SRO and I stayed there for 4 yrs. And before, the other programs, I wouldn’t go [through the programs] to transition, I wouldn’t go nowhere. This time I wanted to do something different. I needed more structure, so as they say I stuck my stake, you know stayed in here. I knew that if I didn’t get the structure that I needed that I would end up back out there on those streets again doing the same thing. I just stayed here until it was time, not when I felt like it was time for me to move, but when God saw fit for me to move and I firmly believe that, because for me I believed that’s the way it happened.
I left SRO in 2007 into my own apartment, where I continue to live today. Today, I’ve been living in my apartment almost 4 yrs. And I work for two other organizations that deal with homelessness and drug and alcohol addicted women. Pretty much I go to my meetings regularly, I have a sponsor, and I focus on people that are trying to live their life in the recovery process in recovery.
It works, it really works. And I used to say it too, before, when I was in other treatments, I don’t know if I just wasn’t ready, I wasn’t hearing things. But I felt like it wasn’t the quantity, it was the quality of recovery I was given because I felt that when I came through Samaritan Inns that I got the best treatment, maybe it was because I was ready to receive that help. They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And that’s what happened, and as a result of that I just acknowledged 8yrs of sobriety. And for the person that I was, I never thought that I would be clean and sober. At one time I thought that I was going to die in the lifestyle. So I’m still here, I’m still grateful; I’m doing what I have to do. You know, I’m trying to help others they say and I feel that God put me in these positions as far as my current work so I can help others and I really like it.
This one job that I have, my full time job, I deal with the ladies, they come in and I tell them I’ve been through what you’re going through; I know how you feel, because sometimes they feel that because I work there, that I’m staff, that I think I’m better than but I have to break it down and say, no, don’t even think like that I know what you’re going through, I’ve been through it. I’ve been through the same struggles you’re going through, I had to take rules, regulations, and I had to go through all of that, you know what I’m saying? To go through all of that. And it’s true, I can feel their pain. It’s no different, we’re no different.