Battling drugs for a new beginning
This is a story of redemption and resilience.
But Marcia knows how incomplete it really is, how it can have a happy ending or a tragic one. It’s all up to her. Will she prevail or slip again?
It’s been three years since she has been clean and sober. That’s a long time, determined by choices measured in minutes. She’s been here before, only to fail. But, somehow, this time, it feels different.
She’s putting her life together. After 20 years, she’s returned to school and completed the first of two certificates that will qualify her as a drug and alcohol counselor. She’s attending classes while also raising a family and at times holding down two minimum wage jobs.
“I know I will be a fine counselor. I know so very well what it’s like to be on the dark side,” explained Marcia, whose name is changed to protect her privacy.
Marcia has a strong support system among friends, one of whom is the chief operating officer of Lower Cape Outreach Council, Gennie Moran. Like thousands of other neighbors, LCOC has been there not only for financial assistance, but also for the emotional support that often is more meaningful than dollars.
“Honestly, LCOC has been in my life as far back as 1999,” said Marcia. They helped me with gifts and a Christmas tree through Santa’s Workshop when my kids were young. They’ve helped with my oil bill in the winter and opened its Food Pantry to our family.”
But, LCOC’s generosity is not a magic bullet. It can’t keep an addict off drugs or alcohol. It can’t guarantee happy endings.
Nearly 20 years ago, Marcia gave custody to her mother to avoid them going into the system. She agreed to enter treatment and have her mother care for them. But, several years later, she relapsed. She was hooked on opioids.
“It got so bad my kids didn’t want to live with me anymore.”
This time, she knows it has to be better. “I continually hear my counselor’s question: Do you want to die or see your son graduate college?”
Along Marcia’s arduous road, maybe the biggest gift LCOC offered was helping financially while Marcia entered her last treatment for two excruciating months. “That financial support for the kids let me stay in treatment longer to assure the best outcome,” she explained.
“They also really encouraged me during this time. They never judged me, although I can understand how they might.”
In Marcia’s case, it wasn’t ever just about her. It was about her children. Their welfare couldn’t be lost in their mother’s fog. LCOC understood that and was there by their side.
Her son weathered all the storms and earned a full scholarship to UMass. Now, he is studying abroad. But the scholarship didn’t cover costs for books and a laptop computer, nor the expense of driving back and forth from school, including new tires.
LCOC helped pay for these expenses, and it’s reaping the rewards of her son’s success.
‘It’s amazing what he has accomplished. I’m so proud of him,” said Marcia. “And, I’m so grateful to LCOC for helping him achieve his potential.”
Meanwhile, Marcia is preparing to begin study at Cape Cod Community College for her second required certificate to qualify as a counselor. “Without LCOC’s help here too, I’m not sure I could have succeeded the first year,” she said. “They paid for my Chrome book and helped fill my gas tank the times I ran short of cash.”
Throughout all this, Marcia also has had to cope with a recurrent back problem that required surgery, seizures related to withdrawals and many visits to the doctor. “I’m 42, but my body feels like its 70,” she said, half kidding, half serious.
“Gennie and her colleagues at LCOC have continually encouraged me. They never looked down or judged me. “The financial support they gave me never was money in my pocket. They send a check to 4C’s for the tuition. They paid the auto mechanic directly when my car broke down and needed new brake pads,” she explained. “They give you a voucher for a Thanksgiving turkey.”
“People need to understand LCOC is not welfare. They’re there for limited amounts for limited times.”
This year, LCOC will distribute nearly $1.5 million in financial assistance to about 2,000 clients alone – not including other services like food and clothing.
“I’ve been very open with LCOC,” said Marcia. “And that has helped.me be brutally honest with myself. When Gennie tells me how proud she is of me, I want so very much to prove her right. LCOC has helped give me my self-esteem back.”
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