November 3, 2017 … Happy Birthday… in Prison!

“Sugarmann, let’s go, you have a visit,” the guard yelled as I just started my shift in the kitchen. “Great I can get a day off of working in the kitchen– Thank God!” 

I got dropped off at visitation. There was Nick, Sean, Maria, and Talia!! It was so great to see them. Anthony was missing though. I miss him so much. I miss my family. My heart aches when they leave. This is very difficult. I never want to do this again. I went back to my unit after the visit only to find my bunk 100% decorated in paper butterflies hanging from strings! Each one had a hand written message from the women in the unit. Brandy did the decorations; she made dumplings and baked me a birthday cake!! They sang Happy Birthday to me and I suddenly realized that I had NO camera. I could not take a picture of my bunk with the butterflies or the birthday cake that was baked in the microwave out of Oreo cookies and coke!!! NO CAMERA. There were no pictures of my 63rd birthday. Because there are no cameras in prison. There are no iPhones in prison. There is no Google in prison. There is no Facebook in prison. There is nothing here in prison. The women in my unit made my birthday bearable. I am so grateful to have these women in my life.

There is however, ONE Narcotics Anonymous meeting on Tuesday nights in prison. I chair the NA meeting this month of November. We do the readings and have a speaker share for approximately 20 minutes and then members comment. Christine spoke for me this week. She is a registered nurse who lost her license and is doing two years in prison. I walk up and down the unit every Tuesday starting at 3:00 pm, yelling that the NA meeting is tonight at 6:00pm!! Meet at my bunk to walk together at 5:30pm. And I tell them: “Chase your recovery the way you chased your dope…. if there was a pound of heroin or a meth lab at the bottom of the hill you would run there… NOW get your asses up and let’s go to the meeting!!!

Last night there were 10 women from my unit walking to the meeting together. It made my night!! These women have never been to an NA meeting or to rehab. So I shared that I am 63 years old and 34 years clean and my first time in prison. I have spent the last 35 years helping people. And I was helping people when the FEDS busted into ASI on October 8, 2015.

Does society know what is really going on with the sentencing guidelines? The mandatory minimums? The non-violent/ first-offenders?

Brandy from North Carolina was sentenced to 15 years for a drug charge, manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. She has 4 children. She had three years knocked off of her sentence giving her 12 years to do. She has never been to rehab. She has no knowledge of the world outside of prison. I keep picturing a little 8 year old kid using a cell phone and how a grown up like her is going to manage coming out of prison.

Bella, also from North Carolina was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiracy. I just read her paperwork from the courts. Oh my God she is not an addict and she never touched a drug. Her boyfriend who she lived with was a drug dealer. Bella was arrested and basically charged with conspiracy for “knowing” that her boyfriend was selling drugs. 12 years in prison. She does not even qualify for the RDAP (Residential drug and alcohol program) ! That is offered to addicts in prison and they are given 18 months off of their sentence! Bella does not qualify. This was her first offense and it was non-violent. She has been incarcerated for 10.5 years.

Gena is from Texas. She is serving 13 years. Gena was clean in recovery for 10 years and she relapsed. When she used, she started cooking meth and she caught a charge. First offense- 10 years clean, sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Kelly is from Florida. They call her “wink”. She is getting released on December 13, 2017 (my clean date!). I sponsor her. She will have served 17.5 years once she is released. She will be going to Tampa to a half-way house. This was a first offense for her also. She is extremely intelligent and has lost 17.5 years of her life. She is very active in NA in Prison. She is working the program. She has just started her 4th step. Her desire to stay clean and recover is awesome. She is a breath of fresh air!!

These are just some of the women I have met in here. It makes no sense to me that these women have never been in any trouble at all, and are punished to this degree. There are murderers who have been given less time than these women. Child molesters who have done much less time. The system is flawed. The government is flawed. It is upsetting to know that their are 1,100 female inmates in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison who are so unfairly mistreated. Who knows this is happening? Who even cares? What is the answer to this? It is unfair. The reality is: If these inmates would have been given a slap on the wrist and then promised to be given this hard sentence if they repeated the offense a second time I would bet everything I love that they would NOT repeat the offense. Why is it so harsh??? It makes no sense at all.

So I will have spent my birthday in prison, along with Thanksgiving 2017; my 35 years clean anniversary; Christmas 2017; New Years; and Anthony’s birthday.

I AM READY FOR 2018!!

Thank each and every one of you for writing to me and for remembering my birthday. All of you from the ASI veterans page are in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis. You are making my time tolerable. PLEASE keep writing and PRAYING for my family and me.

God Bless You– I love you all!!

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The Three Most Difficult Words Ever: “I Need Help”

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Happy 2017   ! I hope that you all have a peaceful, serene, healthy and love filled 2017!!!!!

I haven’t written for the past few weeks. It was a very difficult holiday season however many things became very clear to me over the past weeks !!!  I want to write every day; however when I sit down to write I get very emotional and I get blocked. Instead of trying to fight through it I get up and walk away.  So tonight as I was thinking about what I really needed to write about I realized that the reason that I wanted to start a blog in the first place was because of my passion for working with drug addicts.   Helping them change and become the person that they want to be deep down inside is truly a miracle.  I used the word “passion”.  Working with drug addicts IS my MAIN PASSION in life.

Since the closing of ASI I have been trying to figure out how I would get back into my work.  ASI was the future for my four kids.  We raised them watching us help addicts daily.  As a result, they saw the good, bad and ugly of this disease.  I had many addicts on my couch;  in my home while my children were growing up.  We taught them that addicts were sick people and the ones that we brought to our home were the ones who wanted to get better. Not all of them made it.  Many of them stole from us. My kids got attached to many of them and they got hurt when the addict relapsed and abandoned them.   ASI became a part of my children as well.   They all knew that ASI would be their home and their livlihood, just as it was from the beginning of their lives.  They went on to College and majored in Psychology.  They went on to do trainings and go to meetings and listen.  While they were fortunate enough to travel and chase some of their dreams, they knew deep down that they would end up running, working and living ASI just as they had all of their lives and just as they saw their parents do every day of their life.

It was pulled out from under them.  Probably one of the saddest things one could watch and experience.  I have never been given an answer as to why, after 20 years, there had to be that kind of ending.  Nobody has ever answered why ASI could not have continued with other owners. So in the meantime, we are struggling as a family to make it daily.  Sean and I both were unable to collect unemployment.  We have been selling our possessions in order to live.  As you know, Sean has been battling cancer…..he has no health insurance. We are bogged down with medical bills.  My children were not making enough money to take care of us, our house payment, our car payment, etc…..  I’m putting it all out there because each day I try to grasp at ANYTHING and it is always the same……..there is nothing there. As I am sure you all know, ASI was a lucrative business.  Making an income on this disease has always been a struggle for me.  I did the best I could to deal with that struggle by giving as much as I possibly could to whoever was in need and could not afford to pay.   I can feel that many of the people who do not like me are taking great pleasure in my pain and probably think I deserve this on some level.  There have been so many people who have lied to the FBI;  disgruntled employees, jealous, envious people who live in hate of others.  So many false accusations, so many untrue newspaper articles.  I don’t know that I would wish what we are going through on my very worst enemy.

I get on my knees in the morning and at night.  Now more than ever.  I never imagined going from having everything to having nothing.  I am trying diligently to get something set up for my family so that they may have an income.   I am most likely going away in June for a period of time.  I want them to be able to survive.  The only work I know is helping addicts.  My family operates as a close unit, borderline “codependent”.  haha
We are presently holding each other up.  I had a friend say to me, “Roz, put a status on Facebook or send a flier out and ask everyone who you have ever helped for $25.00 or whatever they want to donate…….”    I can’t do that.  I don’t know how to do that.   I’m going to continue to pray as I have been doing for the past 32 years.  I have a God who is loving, caring and who has helped me get through every storm I’ve ever been through since I was 10 years old.

We will get a break.  We will get a miracle.  Something phenomenal will happen and God will be there helping us to put our lives back together.  I want to thank all of you who have loved me unconditionally.  Whether you are clean or struggling to get clean.  Somebody always has it worse than I do.  I still get phone calls to help addicts who are struggling……thank God for those phone calls.  They keep my spirit alive.   Please pray for me and for my family.  I need many many prayers and I KNOW they work.  God listens to prayer and God helps those who help themselves.  I have been asking for a financial miracle.  I learned that it is okay to do that.   I would have never imagined that at 33 years clean and four children later that I would have achieved my dream and had it yanked out from under me at age 62.

I have been approached by some people to participate in something called FUND MY CAUSE. I am in the process of researching it and I am in hopes of it assisting me with a way to help addicts get clean and a way for me to continue with my PASSION.  I am asking that you be on the look out for this in my next blog.  I am really in need of your support in order to make this happen.   Please continue to read and support my blog.  I really need your help.

Thank all of you who have been there for me……..please continue praying for the addicts and family members of the addicts who are still suffering, both clean and struggling to get clean.

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