I’VE “RE-ENTERED” SOCIETY AS A FELON !

And so at 6:30 AM on June 19 a group of solid loyal dedicated women walked me down to R&D where I waited patiently for my family to pick me up upon my release of Alderson Women’s prison camp. A very very emotional day for everybody …….the feelings were bittersweet. I said my goodbyes to Brandy, Roya, Josie, Linda, Kelly & Cayla.   A group of women I shared much pain, many tears and genuine laughter with over the past year. This experience is something that I will hold dear to my heart and something that I will always cherish. One more time God knew what I needed in my life. I continue to be blessed and God continues to give me exactly what I need and not what I want. I’ve learned however that there is a very fine line now between what I want and what I need. This past year was spent soul-searching and working on myself.  I got into the cargo van mail truck to be driven to the parking lot and when the door opened, Anthony, Talia  and Sean were waiting patiently to pick me up. I have to say this was one of the happiest days of my life. As I stuck my middle finger in the air to so kindly say FUCK YOU Alderson, we started our journey home!!!  So now what? How do I begin my life all over again? How do I pick up the pieces of the devastating bomb which was dropped two years ago on our lives?  How do I begin? Where do I begin?  So I spent the past week at the halfway house experiencing what all of my patients have been experiencing for years! It feels so very strange to be home.  I have been released from the halfway house and am now on home confinement until July 20.    I think of the women in Alderson every day. I know what they’re doing I know what they’re thinking I know what they’re feeling and I pray that they all get to come home very soon.

The prison system is the absolute worst. The fact that there are prison camps and FCI’s and different levels of security that nobody knows about is ridiculous.  Alderson is a camp. It’s a very very low level security for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes. You would think that the inmates were nothing short of baby killers the way they are treated by the staff.  I am extremely grateful for my many many years of recovery and years of private therapy that I have had.  Thanks to this I was able to survive the brutal daily attacks on my self-worth my self-confidence and my self-esteem.  Living by my motto of “TREATING PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED and NOT THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU” is virtually impossible in that miserable environment. And unfortunately knowing that society has a preconceived idea of what a prisoner is and how they should be treated, one must be very thick skinned to survive going to prison. Once again there is prison and there are camps.

     As pretty much all of you were aware I became involved in the sex scandal that took place in Alderson. One of the young ladies who was sexually abused by the captain was someone who I was trying to help get clean.   When I made the decision to help her I was told by many of the inmates that I needed to stay out of it. I was amazed at how many women have been brainwashed and institutionalized.   They were genuinely afraid for me. I initially thought they were crazy until I first handedly experienced the retaliation that I endured.  I had a very light sentence of a year and a day giving me a 10 month bid.  Within those 10 months,  because of my decision to help this young lady, I was put in the bus stop which is a form of torture for over 180 days out of 310 days, I received three shots and I was shipped to a maximum-security county jail without explanation for a period of five days.  I was lied to and told that I was being taken there for my protection. The Warden and the Lieutenant are  who signed off on sending me to the county jail only for me to find out that they were both walked off of the compound by the FBI 24 hours after putting me in the county jail. The Warden so rudely asked me if I was SORRY implying that I should have gone to him and given him the evidence that I was holding probably so that he could destroy it.   He allegedly is being charged with obstruction of justice. Since this experience I have been suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as well as severe anxiety disorder. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would not do it any different. I am now trying to recuperate and get back on my feet so that I might fight and take on Alderson Women’s Prison Camp.   They have a serious price to pay. To allow 1100 women’s lives to be put in the hands of a group of unethical, illegal, abusive, power hungry authority figures is absurd. Nothing short of a Class Action lawsuit is definitely in order.  See, we as inmates are told that we are property of the BOP.  We are not humans and we are not citizens. Once again we are property of the BOP.   I have never been called “property”.   Nobody knows what goes on in prison because there is no conversation following the words “they are in prison”.  I have never experienced such inhumaness and unfairness in my life. There is no healthcare offered. The library is on the fourth floor of an old building with no elevators. The email is also on the fourth floor of that same building. The other email is located at the bottom of a very very very long hill.  My point is that these areas in the prison are not handicapped accessible.  My facility, ASI and MES,  was required to be handicapped accessible or we would be shut down.  There was a van that drove the handicapped places however it had no air conditioning. The bus stop which is a very large area similar to a lobby of a large hotel had approximately 20 bunkbeds in it. The bus stop is where the new inmates were housed and also where the disciplinary problems were housed.  They left fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. You could not sleep in the bus stop. Remember that I told you that Alderson women’s prison camp is a camp. It consisted of people who were first-time offenders of Non-violent crimes. The majority of inmates were charged with conspiracy.  If you know anything at all about the law, conspiracy is how the Feds cover their ass and make sure that they have something to charge you with.

Now i’m going to vent about the drug problem. I don’t think the country is aware of how many addicts are in prison who have never ever been offered or sent to treatment of any kind.  Prisons offer a program called RDAP.   It is a cognitive behavioral program for addiction.   RDAP  is offered to the inmates the last year of their sentence.    For example if someone is given a 10 year sentence and they are qualified to do RDAP, they are given a year off of their sentence. However when they get to prison they do nine years before they’re allowed to get into the RDAP program.  In other words they sit for nine years doing nothing before they start treatment. In reality it’s not that they do nothing because what they do do is get high. They use. The Suboxone problem in prisons is outrageous. A strip of Suboxone costs $200 in prison.  The best part is the prison does not drug test for Suboxone. Basically because it makes too much money on the sales of Suboxone through the commissary. It’s a joke and it’s a nightmare. Many of these drug addicts would be much better off if the judge would sentence them to two years of rehabilitation with the understanding that if they relapse after they complete rehabilitation then they would be required to complete their full sentence.  I would love to be able to work with an addict for two years in treatment.   I wrote a full program on supporting this idea. I would love the opportunity to pilot a program of this sort.  

Basically I am home praying about what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to rebuild what was stolen from me. Working with drug addicts is my passion. The opioid epidemic continues to be out of control and there has been a total of 83 ASI patients who have died of overdose since April 2016.  I am almost finished writing two books. Be on the lookout! My plan is to open a few outpatient treatment facilities and continue helping people get clean!   My other plan is also to never go back to prison! I thank you all for your love your support and your letters while I was incarcerated.I look forward to your comments and to your support. Stay tuned for my new upcoming YouTube channel! Yes I’m going on the circuit! I love you all and remember that God Got Us!!!!!!

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“Long Time NO Blog”

March 24, 2018

So I decided I should touch base with all of you who so generously and so kindly have followed “aheroinestory.com”. I am sorry to have fallen off the world of blogging, however I was not given a choice in the matter. For reasons that I will explain at another time. I was told to “refrain from blogging” about the daily happenings in the world of “Alderson Women’s Federal Prison”. So I refrained. It was in everyone’s best interest, as it was put to me. On some level I agree, on other levels I do not agree. However, I am scheduled to go home to Pittsburgh, PA on June 19, 2018. That is my top priority now. To get home in one piece with my health in tact.

Once I get home I will be able to go into depth about the many events that have transpired. You will be reading my blog or my best selling books! Stay tuned, one way or the other.

To say the least, I have met some very interesting women in here. A hand full of them will remain in my life forever. This experience is something that is extremely difficult to put into words. It is however, something that needs to be talked about. And I plan on doing that!

This blog, my readers, and my family are the reasons that I so graciously made it through the past 7 months. As you know, I had written a blog a few months ago, that I was forced to delete. There has been a series of events since then that I have agreed to not discuss in my blog for several different reasons. At some point I will be able to share this information with all of you. Now is not the right time.

In hindsight, I can see that writing has allowed me to preserve my sanity and it has made my time go quicker. That is a blessing. I just realized that being able to write in my blog from the beginning of my sentence has kept me focused and grounded as well as in this reality of actually being in prison.

I have met phenomenal women here. Women who I would have never had the opportunity to meet anywhere else. I feel a spark with some of them. A spark that says “we were supposed to meet; our paths were supposed to cross!”. Only in prison. Only in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison.

So yesterday, the Thursday flight came in from Oklahoma. Meaning that the new inmates were on their way in the door. So here comes Lacey! Everyone is hugging her and she is excited to see the entire unit. She is very cute with a bubbly personality. She was Roya’s girlfriend in the county jail. So I introduced myself and said, “well, uh this is a bit awkward, but God forbid I ever come back here on a violation and everyone is so happy to see me! I am not real sure how I would feel about that!”. She responded, “Yes, I know what you mean. I started my bid when I was 18 years old. I am 33 years old today. I was given a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. I was with my husband who was 24 years older than me. I was an angry, rebellious kid. I was always being put in the SHU. Always getting in some kind of trouble. I started using heroin in prison. My life started to really go down hill fast”.

“Have you ever gone to rehab Lacey?” I asked. Her response was, ” Well this is my third time back here on a violation. They were all three dirty urines. Now this time I turned myself into my PO. My Po said this is the behavior he wanted to see, and he would work with me to find a rehab that would take me. Instead, he sent me a letter in the mail telling me to appear in court. I knew what this meant and it was not good!”.

So now I am baffled. Once again, this pretty attractive young girl has spent 12 years in Federal prison with not once chance to attend rehab to treat the disease of addiction that she is clearly suffering from.

What is wrong with this picture? Something is very wrong. It is 2018. in 1954, the American Medical Association declared addiction as a disease. Why is this so difficult for people to understand?

Lacey went on to explain that she was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous in prison. She celebrated 18 months clean in the program. She is aware that the program works and she knows she will need to jump back on board to get clean and stay clean again. When sharing with another addict how the program works, there is a deep level of understanding that takes place. A common bond. It is the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. If lacey commits to staying clean and taking direction one day at a time, she will thrive in the NA program here. Lacey has committed to coming with me. Let’s see if she follows through!!

So I was here at Alderson for about two weeks when Ms. Kitty told me there was a girl in my unit who has been at Alderson for many years, and that she was interested in making extra money by doing my laundry.  Her name is Brandy A.

She found me in the microwave room. I was ironing my pants and I heard, “Hey are you Sugarmann? Are you sure you should be ironing while you are falling asleep?” I have had a sleep disorder since I was 1o years old when my father passed away. The past two years have been extremely stressful. I spent those years waiting to go to prison. My world had fallen apart. When I arrived at Alderson I was unable to walk without a cane. I would fall asleep while standing or sitting. I was terribly unhealthy.

I looked at Brandy and we laughed. She has been my guardian angel throughout my time here. She is God’s gift to me. Brandy is here and she is a first time offender. She was given 15 years. Her mother left her with her father when she was 9 years old. I can’t even imagine that. What the hell was her mother thinking? Brandy got involved with an abusive man at the age of 14. She had three children to him. She finally left him and raised her children on her own. She began cooking methamphetamine to support her family. She was then indicted for conspiracy to manufacturing. First time offender, never arrested for anything, never in rehab. The judge sentenced her to 15 years in prison. Jesus. When the judge said 180 months in prison, Brandy’s father hit the floor of the courtroom. Brandy’s ex-husband stepped up and took care of the children. She is grateful for that. Brandy is not the norm when it comes to being a prisoner. She works in the facilities. When she works, she works. She does landscaping and can drive every piece of John Deere equipment there is! She takes care of the compound when it snows. They wake her up at all hours of the night and she goes! Brandy is one of the few inmates who has changed her life on her own. She stopped using drugs while in prison. That is a major accomplishment. She keeps her distance from people and she doesn’t get too close. You can count the people she chooses on one hand. I can see how this happens. She has good clear boundaries. She is a true loyal friend. She is very trustworthy. After what I learned about friends and loyalty the past two years, she is breath of fresh air.

Brandy is a God sent to Roz Sugarmann. I am her prison mom. She cooks for us every day. Cafeteria food is awful. I lost 50 pounds between September and February. Brandy has been locked up for 10 years. She has never had the opportunity to learn about the disease of addiction. She gets 300 minutes a month on the phone and she divides them between her dad and her kids. She skypes them once a week. Her kids LOVE her and they miss her very much. They need their mom. She has maintained as consistent of a relationship with them as she can. I respect her for not giving up. So many other mothers have done just that. Brandy completed Alderson’s firefighter program. She is a certified Federal Firefighter. That is a major accomplishment too!! For the most part, the staff here at Alderson respect her.

I told my family that Brandy will be coming to Pittsburgh at some point! I am more than sure that if I bright only one person home from prison with me they will be grateful! LOL only ONE !!!

I  have many more phenomenal women who I have met in prison. Brandy has become family. The others have crossed my path each for a different reason. I am getting excited about coming home. The simple thought of driving out of the gate gives me goosebumps. and puts a lump in my throat. This has been yet another one of God’s experiences that I have to figure out for myself what the lessons are.

The mail has dropped off over the past few months. It is okay though. I know it is difficult to write letters on a regular basis. My main concern while I am here is my family out there- at home. This has been very hard on them. Harder on them than on me. They have had to realize what life is like without their mother. It has been almost like a death. They have grown in ways that others don’t have to until they lose a parent. I guess what I am saying is.. if you are a friend of mine or “were” a friend of mine and you think of me now and then. Please replace the thought of me with a phone call or a text message or anything you can to let my family know that you are thinking of them. It will mean the world to them. It will also mean the world to me.

I am excited to come home. I am excited to go back to work. I am excited to see my family, my dogs, my cats, my house, my patients, and their families!!!

God Bless You All!

Til my next blog…..

Just an update on Prison Life…

December 1, 2017

“Mum, I didn’t get to talk to you much during that skype yesterday, but I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to worry things will work themselves out. Remember how you felt when we finally got to go on vacation for the first time and how relieving it was? I’m just saying you guys have a habit of getting through times like this and it’s times like this that make you and Dad who you are. I’m gonna go now. I love you. Nick.”

I can’t tell you how much it meant to get this email from my son Nick. He’s special. Nick has epilepsy, and he has had it since birth. For those of you who know Nick, you know what I mean when I say “there is only one Nick Sugarmann”. He literally has a heart of gold but enjoys arguing more than he enjoys anything in life. Thanks for making me smile Nick. It isn’t an easy thing to do these days— Smile that is.

The holidays in prison is not something I wish on anyone. It is sad. So many women in one place who are not with their children or their family. My head was in the sand all of these years, like so many others. I’ve balanced out a bit, at first I was anxious and trying to adjust being on another planet in a totally unknown culture. My mind continually spun and I couldn’t eat or sleep. Never have I been treated so poorly for no reason whatsoever. i used to think, “well, if you break the law then you don’t deserve any thing good.” I learned quickly that this is so untrue. Because someone is doing prison time doesn’t mean they broke the law. Yes, that’s what I said. Because a person is in prison does not mean they broke the law. The majority of inmates took a plea. I took a plea. I took a plea because I was told if I went to trial and was found guilty, that I could be sentenced to 10-15 years. “WHAT?” So, I took a plea, even if I knew I shouldn’t. I agreed to a two year sentence because I didn’t want to take the chance on getting 10-15 years. How is this fair? I don’t get it. Regardless, these private prison “camps” area  waste of money and totally useless in the area of any type of rehabilitation for both drug addicts and white collar criminals.

I owned a full service addiction treatment center for 20 years. We treated more than 3,000 addicts. We helped many addicts get clean and learn a new way of life. There was no good reason to shut ASI down. The real crime is that my family is suffering and will continue to suffer until I am free. I will have been locked up for 9 months when this is all over. They are struggling every single day and I am stuck in here worrying about them every single day.

I worked in the kitchen up until yesterday. Today I started working in the prison gym. THANK GOD. Everyone works in the kitchen for 60 days when they get here. I was there 80 days. The place started to grow on me even though I was there 8-9 hours a day and spent 3 hours every day doing absolutely NOTHING. It was torture. Two days ago, the main guard of the night glared at me all day and on into the evening. I had several inmates come to me and tell me about him watching me.

So towards the end of the evening he walked up to me, pointed his finger in my face and said, “Hey, you, why don’t you just stand here and watch the paint dry on the walls?” I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay”. He didn’t like that. He said, “Really? Okay? Well don’t you dare expect a bonus or a raise as long as I am in here!”

Well I became enraged. I said, “Look here, in order to get a raise or a bonus you have to receive a PAYCHECK. That $5.25 per month you give me is not a paycheck. I am a VOLUNTEER here. Me and every other inmate here is a volunteer. We do NOT work here. You’ve degraded and humiliated me enough!” Then I proceeded to walk over and face the wall so I could continue watching the paint dry.

A few of the women shuffled me out of there at the end of the night because I could not afford to be taken to the County. The next day, with the suggestion and guidance of some long time inmates I wrote a BP9 on the guard. When I gave it to the counselor she immediately took me out of the kitchen and placed me in another job. This abusive guard worked at an all male prison and one of the prisoners hit him over the heard with a steel pipe. They left him for dead. He has a steel plate in his head and he was moved to Alderson Women’s prison!! What kind of sense does that make?

Not every Alderson staff member behaves like him. Unfortunately, nobody should behave like that. There are several that do. They talk down to inmates and humiliate them. They degrade them. It is unbearable and it is unnecessary. This is inhumane. Anyone who works for the Federal Government should be ashamed of themselves. And I mean that.

I have to get through the month of December. The anniversary of my father’s death is December 6th. 53 years ago. Sean’s birthday is December 10th, my clean date is December 13th, and Christmas  !!! Then 2018!! THANK GOD!

I have begun to write a book. I wrote the first chapter. I am very excited that I got started. I can’t stop writing. I have been talking about writing a book for quite sometime. I cannot wait until it’s completed. It is definitely going to be a Bestseller! haha!

I am sponsoring 8 women in here. I am not sure when or how that happened. It is definitely God working in my life. It is also a huge struggle. This is the most pain I have experienced clean. I don’t understand what the lesson is for me yet. I am more than sure he has a reason for me to be here. There is something here for me to experience or find out. I hope to discover what it is very soon. I am praying for God to reveal to me the meaning of all of this. It is my hope that all of this pain is what will give me a new life and an unforgettable spiritual awakening. These women in my life, this horrible place, these past 2 years of tears and tragedy, and losing everything all over again. It is explosive and heart wrenching. As I said before, the pain is absolutely unbearable. I can’t imagine not having a God in my life.

Thank you all for your ongoing love and support. Please pray for my family and me. That we continue to overcome this monumental disaster. I love you all.

 

#Wave #GameChanger

Please God, is it Time for me to Wake Up Yet?

November 11, 2017 

I hit a wall in here this week. An emotional wall. I get up everyday at 6:30AM. EVERYDAY. This place is spread out over many hills. The mail hill has to be walked at least three times per day in order to get to the mess hall. I am very tired. Physically exhausted. I work in the kitchen from 9:30AM to 6:30PM. Every inmate MUST work in the kitchen for 60 days. My first two weeks I was placed in the Medical Center to work. Once they realized that I had medical experience they took me out of there and put me in the kitchen! Ridiculous.

I’m going to talk about ME today…. it’s my turn to share….

I want to come home. I am tired. Mentally and physically. I am worried about my family. It is all like a bad nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I have not felt this level of powerlessness since I was in labor delivering my children. I am angry. I am tired. I am frustrated. My family is actually doing time. They are the ones suffering. I have helped others all of my life and now….. well, I apologize for whining and complaining about my life. I really do. I just felt the need to dump. I think what truly saves me is that I know in my heart that God is in my corner 100%. That at the end of the day, God is there for me. While I know that he doesn’t give me anymore than I can handle, I am still flawed and human. I still “feel”. Right now, I feel sad, angry, hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and emotionally beat up. Since ASI/MES closed their doors on April 30, 2016, we have been suffering. There have been more than several OD’s and deaths of our past patients and this is constant. I am surrounded by addicts in here who have no clue that they do not have to live like this anymore. Is it really my responsibility to carry the message in here? I really am tired of fighting.

When I was using I was never in this position. Ever. I had no idea that ANYONE ANYWHERE in our country was being treated like this. I feel like an idiot. Like my head was totally in the sand. I can’t seem to put the pieces together.

Do you know that I get paid $5.25 a month? I bet you didn’t know that, did you? These inmates actually look for better jobs that pay maybe $20 a month. Maybe you think that “criminals” should be grateful for anything they are given? If you think that way, I will pray for you. Mind you… this is supposed to be a “Camp” for non-violent first time offenders. Better known as, “Camp Cupcake”. Not hardly.

So I will be here worrying about my family until June 2018. Wondering what the next step will be to put us back together again. Our life was yanked out from under us. After 20 years of helping and giving. Yanked out from under us by more corrupt people than I could ever believe.

I could be home on an ankle bracelet. These camps need shut down and send everyone home on a bracelet. Ankle bracelets to go to work and pay taxes. We would be worth more to the government. We are a total waste of money, and a total waste of time. I don’t understand the purpose of these camps. It makes no sense at all to put white collar criminals in the same institution as drug addicts. It’s like they throw people from all walks of life that are between the ages of 21 and 80 into the same institution and act as if they have absolutely anything in common. It truly is a nightmare. And NOW, there are absolutely no programs; no classes or courses; no trades to choose from; nothing at all to help the inmates to re-enter society. This is a sad state of affairs to say the least.

I am trying to sleep, but I am still in the bus stop. I was supposed to be out on November 6th. They didn’t get around to moving me yet. There is a new woman in the bus stop and she won’t stop snoring. If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck. So at 7:00AM I will go see the counselor and see if they will move be back into a cubicle. Everyone is done on prison time…. NOT regular time! Prison time means hurry up and WAIT! (Now I know how my husband Sean felt all these years waiting for me haha!!)

So have you ever seen “Orange is the New Black”? It is a great show and a great story. It is what happens here and it is so very accurate about what is going on in Alderson Women’s Prison Camp. It is pretty much the exact same at Danbury, which is the women’s federal prison in Connecticut.

This is a secret. This prison camp is not something that anyone discusses. It is not openly talked about anywhere. Women that have been to prison do not usually share about their time incarcerated. The reason? Shame.

I am so frustrated with all of this. On December 13, 1983 when I entered Gateway Rehab, My eyes began to open. The “fog” began to lift. I began learning about myself and the shame I was carrying around. The shame of not being good enough for anything or anybody. The shame of being an addict. The shame of feeling less than everyone around me. Where did this powerful feeling come from? A feeling that only “drugs” could take away. Then the drugs stopped working. I was left with myself. So I worked the steps with my sponsor and I went to therapy every week without fail. I prayed daily and asked God to help me change. Guess what? It worked. I changed. My life got better. I went back to school. I got married. We had children. I continued to change, the shame lessened, and I started to hold my head up. I walked standing with my shoulders back and my head up. One day I looked in the mirror and I felt proud. Proud of who I was and how much I changed. Proud of having a loving and caring relationship. Proud of my education and my career. Proud of our four beautiful children and who they were. Proud of building a life from the bottom up.

Saying, “Hi, I am Roz and I am an addict” no longer had any shame attached to it.

Then one morning the shame was back and it was back in full force. My head became so heavy I could not lift it. My world was crashing and my feet were coming out from underneath me. I could not put the brakes on. The shame was back. Do I use or not? Do I keep fighting or throw in the towel? I lost my business and all of the wonderful people I met as a result of the business. I lost my livelihood, my career, and everything we worked so hard to build. I could feel myself losing my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and my pride. Was I going to lose my clean date? Was I going to lose my dignity? Was I going to lose my family? My home? I was losing all of the material things I worked so very hard for. Now the emotional and spiritual loss? Was I losing that too? After all, I was going to PRISON. How much can one person swallow? Prison brings such a negative connotation. It is so very overwhelming. I worked so hard to release myself of the shame I felt while growing up. The shame I felt from being so different than the rest of my family. Roz was the drug addict, and now she is in prison. The shame came back, and it came back strong.

So here I am. In prison, overwhelmed and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. One day at a time; one minute at a time. I am starting to release that shame. It is not completely gone, but I am getting back to where I was before this nightmare started. I have a new energy. I am ready to move on. I managed to  weather my birthday in prison. I received so many cards and letters from people in Pittsburgh. It was heart warming. The girls in my unit sang happy birthday to me. Brandy decorated my bed with beautiful hanging butterflies that had positive messages from the women in the unit on them! My first and last birthday in prison! I am going to make sure of that.

Thank all of you at home and those of you who are supporting my blog. I truly can’t wait to come home and see all of you. You are my strength and I thrive on hearing from you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

xoxoxoxoxox

#GameChanger #Wave

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!!

7 weeks down… 34 weeks to go…

Every morning  I open my eyes I have to pinch myself. Am I really here? Am I really in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison Camp?

It was Friday October 13th, and I was walking to work at 5:00am. I arrived at the huge cafeteria better known as ‘CDR’ and went to sign in. The lieutenant looked at me and then looked at his watch and said, “Sugarmann you are one minute late, you go back to working PM shift”. “Shit”, I thought, “I’ll never get on the correct sleep schedule”. For those of you who don’t know, I fall asleep standing up. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and it is agitated by stress. And this place is STRESSFUL. Basically, I have been trying to be released from CDR for the past month. Everyone who knows anything about me knows I shouldn’t be working in CDR! But that doesn’t seem to matter. Friday the 13th would be my last day to get off work at 1:00pm! I had a skype session with my family at 3:00pm which ended at 3:30pm. I had another skype session scheduled for 5:30pm with Anthony and Talia. After my 3:00 skype I went over and sat at the computer and checked my emails. Unfortunately, I was horribly stressed out and I fell ASLEEP at the computer!!

When I woke up the room was pitch dark and everyone was gone. I looked at my watch and holy shit it was almost 5:00pm. Count was at 4:00pm. Count is EVERYDAY at 10:00am, 4:00pm, and 9:00pm. YOU DO NOT MISS COUNT!! When I looked outside there was not a soul around. So I stepped out of the email room and stood outside. Within seconds two white cars pulled up in front of me. The guard jumped out of the car… “Where have you been Sugarmann????” I thought to myself, “oh shit ya did it this time Roz”. I replied, “I was asleep in email”. He made me get in the back seat and within 2 minutes, the Warden pulled up, jumped out of his car and into the backseat of our car… RIGHT NEXT TO ME! It was a smaller car so our elbows were touching. He turned his head and looked directly at the side of my face. I could ‘feel’ him staring at me while I looked straight ahead.

He said sternly, “Sugarmann, you fucked up the national count”. Well I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good! He then said very loudly, “Show me Janis Joplin… I immediately pulled up my sleeve and showed him my tattoo. “NICE”, he said.

We drove back to my unit up top where all of the units and the main pavilion are. I got out of the car and went into my unit. The guards walked me in and as I started to walk down the center aisle to my cube in the far back, everyone cheered and clapped and whistled ! I felt like I just received my diploma for graduating from kindergarten.

So much for staying under the radar. The entire compound, and I mean ENTIRE…. 1,000 inmates and all Alderson staff, know me as… “The triple OG who fell asleep in email and was missing during count.” I got a 300 series “Shot”, and the consequences were 2 weeks back in the Bus Stop and 30 days of NO skype. So here I am trying to sleep in the bus stop where the fluorescent lights are always on and people are always moving around.

It is Tuesday night, my day off. I attend the Narcotics Anonymous meeting tonight. I go every Tuesday without fail. It’s my home group. I feel safe there. It is where I feel “home”. I sit in the circle and shut my eyes. I have a vision of old timers from home sitting around the table. I see Shannon L. , Joe B. (RIP), Kenny B., MaryAnn B. (RIP), Terry B.(RIP), K.J, Gloria, Barb M., Rox R., Mickey H., Rosemary R., Marla, Walt S., and Sean S. I see a huge cloud of cigarette smoke in the air. It is the Beachwood meeting at the Mary S. Brown church on Tuesday nights in Squirrel Hill. My home-group. Those days were ‘Golden’. I feel so blessed to have experienced Narcotics Anonymous the way we did back then. It was a “Gift” for us. A blessing and a totally new way of life!!

I counted 29 people at the NA meeting tonight! How awesome! I brought Jessica (my Bunkie), Garlic, and Kelly with me tonight. So many new faces. My Bunkie Jess came two weeks in a row. She touches my heart. God has intervened and is running the show. I wrote a letter to her judge requesting that she get to go to treatment for the last 18 months of her sentence. I ask God every night let this be granted to her. She needs recovery badly. She needs a chance to get her kids back. She loves them very much and she lost them to this treacherous disease. Her husband just got out of prison and he is an addict also… struggling to stay clean.

There are hundreds of addicts on this compound. Many have been given 5, 10, 15 years for their first offense. Non-violent first offenders. Most have never been to treatment or to an NA meeting. I cannot believe how much they do not know about the disease of addiction. THEY NEED TREATMENT!

THERE IS A HEROIN EPIDEMIC OUT THERE!!! What is going on with our country? What is happening to addicts? Why so many deaths? Something is wrong. Very wrong. People are losing their family members and loved ones everyday.

Teach others about addiction. Share your experience, strength, and hope. Educate your children. Do everything you can to gain knowledge, understanding and information to share with your kids. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Sadly enough, I truly believe that this is ALL that is needed to stop the epidemic. Not one addiction course is offered to children in elementary school, middle school or high school. The most they get is the D.A.R.E program. It covers NOTHING. I believe the solution is simple. Do not LIE to your children. They already know what you are doing.

Alderson Women’s Prison Camp is full of female addicts who have children. These children are the future addicts of America if we do not do something quickly. We need to educate them about the disease of addiction BEFORE they end up following their parent’s footsteps…. NOT AFTER. Be pro-active. Help others. Teach and Share. We need addiction to be taught in schools. Maybe we need a stand a lone school that educates the WORLD on addiction… hmmmmm.

Can you imagine how many government employees, police officers, prison staff, and politicians would unemployed? And what would Big Pharm do??? Uh Oh! That’s a whole new blog!

Pray and ask God to help the addict who still suffers and their families who continue to suffer…. the pain brought on by the disease of addiction is unbearable.

 

I love you all. Thank you for reading, and your continued support!!!

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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And so This is Christmas…..

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Christmas 2016.  A rollercoaster ride of feelings.  Ups and downs, tears and laughter.  This is the first Christmas in 33 years that I have not bought one single gift….for anyone.  If you knew at all what Christmas morning has looked like in this house for the past 28 years you would wonder if I was going to even MAKE IT through the holidays without taking the bridge…..or using heroin…….or sitting in the bathtub with a razor blade.  But I can’t do that….because as I was talking to my kids last night they said, “Mum, yea we can’t buy Christmas gifts and we can’t go to New York (another yearly family tradition) and we literally don’t have money for gas…..but we are all alive.  We are all breathing.  There have been so many, many deaths in the past 6 months.  I spent Christmas and New Years as a patient in Gateway in 1983.  The Christmas before I got clean I stole all of the gifts out of my mothers car….I was pathetic.  The next year I spent the holidays in treatment and the years following I spent putting my life back together.

As I’ve told all of you in my other posts, I’m having a really hard time letting go of losing ASI and trying to move on.  I’m so very very stuck.  I just want to sit down and write emails to the FBI and the Department of Health and VBH and Fayette County Drug and Alcohol and the DEA and so many others who I am ANGRY at and who contributed to our demise.  But I KNOW that it will not do me or anyone any good.  It won’t bring ASI/MES back and those people certainly will NOT take ANY responsibility for their part in any of this.  See that is one of things that I learned in recovery…………I learned that when something goes wrong or bad in a relationship…..ANY type of relationship, that the blame falls on BOTH SIDES……remember, there are THREE sides to every story.  Yours, mine and the truth.    The bottom line is that I have not had the opportunity to grieve this loss.  And there are many losses that I have suffered this past year.   My heart hurts.  Literally.  Overdoses, one after the other. 42 deaths since ASI/MES closed.  And the one thing that was helping these addicts was pulled out from underneath them………….for literally no reason.  I will be sentenced in May.  Once I am sentenced, hopefully, I will be able to speak out.  As advised by my attorneys, I have been told to basically SHUT UP.  No interviews with newspapers or anything of the sort.  I’m sure you can tell how I drift off into sharing about ASI in EVERY BLOG !  I apologize for that.  There is SO MUCH MORE to my life and to the disease of addiction as well as the recovery process, that I would LOVE to share with all of you.

I miss you.  I miss my family group on Tuesdays.  I had the very BEST GROUP of family members on Tuesday nights.  They were great and they worked really hard on understanding their codependency and they worked so very hard on their own recovery !  It was awesome !

I need to hear from you.  I need to know what you want to hear from ME !!  I so appreciate you supporting my blog and I absolutely look forward to the comments!  They have been a great support to me at the absolute worst time in my life.  Can you please send me your email address in the comment section of the blog OR you can just email it to me !!  Rozsug1213@gmail.com

 

And so this is Christmas
So what have we done
2016 is over
2017 just begun

We have had many memories
At the end of these years
There was so very much pain
We shed many tears

The end of two decades
Came abruptly and quick
It was quite unexpected
It left everyone sick….

Thousands of addicts
Were helped every day
ASI/MES was a family
In many different ways

The Staff was committed
The Addicts were too
April 30 was a tragedy
There was nothing we could do

After its closing
Addicts started to die
So many families
Had to say GoodBye

ASI & MES
Were loved by all
We closed with great memories
That we could all recall

ASI is a legend
MES too
Thanks for the memories
To each and every one of you

And so this year is over
I can’t say I’m sad
ASI/MES is in our heart
For this we are glad
There may not be Christmas presents this year for the Sugarmanns, but we were blessed to have met all of the Addicts that we met over the past 20 years.  We were honored to help them and honored that God put each and every one of them in our lives. There are no number of Christmas presents that could EVER equal the love, gratitude and loyality that they have shown me and my family.  This year, Christmas will be remembered in honor of all of the blessings that came from the many Addicts who were patients at one point at both Addiction Specialists and Mary E Steratore Treatment Center.   ASI/MES might be closed, but the memories, the recovery, the dedication, the commitment and the hard work that took place for the past 20 years by both Staff AND by the Addicts can NEVER EVER be forgotten.

God Bless You All

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays to all of you.

I love you.

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Ready, Set, Blog !

It has been 18 days since I have blogged.  So I decided this morning at 8:30am that I was going to write for an hour; get my blog posted by 10:00 am and then finish getting my clothes ready to take to AVALON to sell in Squirrel Hill so I can get enough money to get my gas turned on in my house.  It’s been off for 5 days.  The question right now in the Sugarmann house is “should we pay the gas at $1,066.00 so we can have hot water and a hot dryer or should we just pay the water bill at $740.00 which is going to be shut off on Friday so we make sure we at least have water regardless of whether it is cold or hot !!!”  So, it is now 9:45 pm which means I have literally taken 13.5 hours to write this post.  WTF is wrong with me.  I have resisted writing a little more each day.  All of my kids are home.  They have been home since Sean had surgery.  Every night my son says, “C’mon mum, kick the recliner up so you can lay back and go to sleep since you won’t go to bed……”  I told him that I don’t want to go to sleep because I don’t want to wake up.  Not that I want to die or anything of the sort……..just that I literally don’t want to “wake up” and be bombarded with all of those feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, emptiness, having to realize that there is no need to hurry and get dressed because I have to get to Uniontown.   Not wanting to wake up to the fact that it’s yet another day that I don’t get to see my staff or my patients who I have literally been seeing EVERYDAY for the past 20 years.  I haven’t seen Sammy in almost 2 months.  Yes, it’s horrible.  Yes, I’m whining.  Yes I’m feeling sorry for myself.

Watching my kids is what keeps me moving.  They truly have a story to tell.  These kids went from having anything and everything they ever wanted to having absolutely nothing.
Ands they have done it with grace and dignity and a smile on their face.  They have not shown one sign of resentment or anger to us at all.  They have remained very humble and concerned about me and their father through this entire nightmare of us being shut down and raided by the Feds to Sean being diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  They have gone from being on top of the world to almost being under the bridge.  They are my greatest motivator and greatest support.  They don’t even know it.  I’m so very proud of them and so very honored to say they are my kids.   I am blessed, regardless of how angry I get at God sometimes.  This is not God’s fault.  I am unsure “WHY” this happened.  It baffles me.  And NO I cannot NOT think about it.  I cannot just “LET IT GO”.   I hear from my patients EVERY DAY.  I hear of a death/overdose EVERY DAY in Uniontown.  It is unfair.
600 patients put out on the street????   And they make it sound like it’s a normal.  Oh well, they are just drug addicts.  Not useful for much of anything………..right? Is that not the message that is sent??

I have been writing all day….and deleting everything  write.  I’m so stuck because I feel my life is stuck.  I’m on hold.  I’m moving quickly and I’m stuck at the same time.  I was married in my active addiction to a man I met while I was in college at West Virginia University. His name was Dante.  We used together and we got married in 1979 on St. Patrick’s Day.  He moved to Pittsburgh with me when we graduated from College.  Our addiction took off once we moved to Pittsburgh.  It got very bad.    We went to rehab together in December 1983.  We kicked heroin cold turkey in the rehab and finally on the 4th night they came in the middle of the night and put Dante in another rehab in the mountains.  I was hysterical.  You would have thought it was the end of my world.  I learned about codependency after getting clean.  My relationship with Dante suffered from SEVERE codependency.  I acted desperate with him.  He was a drug.  I was pathetic.  I bought him clothes. I bought him shoes.  I gave him money.  I followed him everywhere.  I was pathetic.  I convinced myself that I would MAKE him marry me.  And I did.  If someone asked him a question, I answered for him.  If he wanted to be with another girl (before we got married) I wouldn’t say anything.  I would do anything to keep him around.  The thought of not being with him made me want to kill myself.  I was pathetic.  Hence, when they took him away from me and separated us in rehab I was crying hysterically.  I screamed, “You took my dope now you took my husband”……..they responded, “Same thing…….”   I remember those words like it was yesterday.  They played over and over in my head and I did not know what it meant.  We were separated for 45 days.  The first week I was detoxing from him and I was out of my mind.   At the end of the 45 days my therapist came to me and said “We are bringing Dante back here for five days so we can do some couples work before you go home.”  I said, “Don’t bring him here, I want a divorce.”

Dante and I lived together for our first year in recovery.   I knew instantly that we would not stay married.  We were better friends than husband and wife.  So I codependently went about my way and found him a job, an apartment and a new wife !  All because I felt so guilty.  I soon learned that codependency was a part of the disease of addiction and that family members suffer from it.  “Codependent No More” by Melanie Beatty is a great book for family members of addicts.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from this disease you should read this book and I am sure you will relate and find it MORE than helpful to you.

Dante & I remained great friends.  I married his sponsor.  They were great friends.  Dante was also one of our partners at ASI.  We talked on a daily basis and we were great support for each other.   Dante died last week.  I got word of his death on the day AFTER his funeral.   I am so hurt that nobody told me in enough time to go to the funeral.  I can guarantee anyone that he is highly upset that nobody contacted me.  He had very few people in his life.  I am not surprised I was not contacted by most of them.  There were a few, two in particular, who truly made me angry for not telling me.  People are odd.  They are jealous creatures.  They have no self awareness.

We are on into a new day.  It is 12:04 am.  I have been trying to get this out an entire day.  I will write more maybe even tomorrow !!!   haha !   I am excited about the future.  I believe things will get better and I believe that we will be open again soon and we will be able to go back to helping addicts just like we left off doing.  For most of us, it is what we are supposed to be doing.  And we are supposed to be doing it as a team because we made a great team  !!!!!    ASI / MES was a great upstanding ethical facility that had a true passion for helping addicts find a new way of life.  Anyone who has had any reason to come to ASI/MES knows what we are about.  All in favor of ASI/MES being put back in business
say “I”.

The “I’s” have it.

 

 

Twenty Years Is A Lifetime

I was driving home from the Women’s I to We 3/4 House last night and I had a thought about ASI (Addiction Specialists, Inc) and MES (Mary E. Steratore Treatment Center).   I got a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  I was paralyzed.  I stopped the car in the middle of the road.  My heart sunk.  How did this happen?  I had a dream. And it came true.   My facility opened in July 1999.  I was so grateful and so happy.  Living my life doing what I love to do with the people I love to do it with.  Addicts.  Helping Addicts.  I had my own treatment center.  I have a great husband and four great children.  My children mean the world to me.  All I ever wanted was for my children to always love to be home.  I wanted to make sure that they loved being there.  I hated being home.  My father died unexpectedly when I was 10 years old of a massive heart attack and my mother might as well have died with him. She was so very sad and depressed. She spent her life waiting to die so she could see him again. So, needless to say, it was a sad place to grow up. I couldn’t wait to leave.

ASI was in operation for 11 years when we decided to open the Mary E. Steratore Treatment Center. It was a residential inpatient facility with 24 beds. I named it after my mother. It was my dream and it came true.  The Mary E. Steratore Inpatient Treatment Center.  I was able to help addicts in my own facility and I knew my mother would be (and was) very proud of me. My mother died when I had 4 years clean. My addiction took a toll on our relationship. Thank God I got four fantastic years with her. They were the best four years ever and I will always cherish them. I was so blessed to be able to own and name an addiction treatment facility after my mother.

ASI/MES was open and in operation for 20 years. On October 8, 2015 60 FBI agents raided the entire facility. Fifty more Agents also raided my home. My daughter was the only one at home when they showed up at 8:30 am. She is now in therapy two times per week because she suffers from  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). She cannot answer our front door without breaking out in hives and having a panic attack. They violated my home and interrogated my daughter. They found NOTHING in my home. They left with a few laptops and a $900.00 TJ Maxx receipt. It was months before anyone was charged with anything. Literally months.

I believe I have been in shock. Ethics have always been a priority for me. They have always been of the utmost importance to me. I am devastated that this happened. I don’t understand why. I truly do not understand how I ended up here. I am 61 years old. I am clean 32 years. I used drugs for 16 years and never was arrested and never went to jail.Why is this happening now?   I do not want to have the “poor me’s”. I am totally in shock though, and I need to grieve. I need to work through the five stages of grief somehow. But I cannot  get through the denial stage. I’m stuck in it. This has literally put a hole in heart.I wake up every day with an empty feeling in my gutt. I get on my knees and ask God for help.I still have the hole. Then my husband sat me down and told me that he has cancer and has known for 2 months. He now has been in the hospital for three weeks due to some different complications with his heart and his good lung.

So I started this blog. It’s a way for me to express my feelings. It’s a way for me to stay connected to my old patients who I miss terribly. It’s a way for me to hear from all of you. It’s a way for me to tell myself each day that I’m going to be okay and that I can continue to do what I love to do. I had about five more years before I retired. Now, I literally have to start over. And I will. And I’ll be better for it. I won’t lose my faith. I believe in God and I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that the truth will be revealed. And we will all find out that this happened due to peoples envy and jealousy. Due to politics and the government. Due to society and their stigma of addiction and of addicts. I replay October 8, 2015 over and over and over in my head. Like a broken record.Now what? Those two words are something that I have been asking myself daily for the past 10 months. What a nightmare. That is the best description for our lives since Oct. 8, 2015.  I have not had closure with ASI/MES or with my patients.

I need to have a gathering of all past ASI patients and staff.  Well, not all staff.  hahaha.  I miss the patients and I need to see how they are doing !!!!  I have to figure out how to pull that off.  I’m not sure how anyone could just expect us to walk away from all of this like it didn’t happen.  My kids were planning on  working at ASI and taking it over.  They will need to continue in the field and open another one.  TWENTY YEARS IS A LIFETIME.