Alex is from the Triangle, North Carolina region. She was in active addiction for 12 years before starting her recovery at TROSA.
Growing up, Alex excelled at equestrian skills. “I started riding horses at the end of elementary school and I ended up being really good at it. I would travel all up and down the east coast going to horse shows with my dad. It was a great experience. Looking back, I really cherish these memories I made with my dad.”
Despite her talents, Alex had little confidence outside of the competition ring. “I got picked on a lot in middle school and in the beginning of high school. I was made fun of. I was short . . .I wore big glasses. . .I had my hair cut real short . . . and I guess kids can just be mean. I really wanted to fit-in and be liked.”
Craving social acceptance, she fell in with an older crowd at high school and experimented with cocaine and ecstasy. Alex graduated from high school and started UNC-Greensboro for college. She completed one year, but did not return for the next school year . . .
“My dad died before I went back,” she shares. Her father’s death devastated Alex. She looked for a way to escape the pain of this loss and turned to abusing prescription pills. “I started to snort pills when my dad died. I didn’t want to cry and nothing could make me cry when I was high. I just didn’t want to process any of my emotions. I didn’t want to feel it at all.”
An unhealthy relationship followed:.“My ex-boyfriend was emotionally and mentally abusive. I lost whatever I liked about myself.” Alex began using heroin with her ex-boyfriend and committed crimes to maintain both their addictions. “Life got to the point where I just didn’t care,” she shares. Alex was arrested and spent 6 months in Durham county jail awaiting court. “My mom could have bailed me out but chose not to. She wanted me to make a decision about my life.” Alex realized she wanted to live differently: “I was tired of letting my family down. Tired of letting myself down. I knew I could be so much more.”
Alex had heard about TROSA while in jail and made the decision to try the multi-year program—a decision she shares was a true turning point in her life: “Before TROSA, I would have times when I wasn’t using. . .but when I would go to detox or to a treatment program, I was never doing it for myself. I was always going through the motions and trying to make someone else happy. When I decided to try TROSA, that was the first time I made a decision for myself. I am here at TROSA because I finally wanted to get help. I was ready to be here.”
Alex wasn’t looking to just stop using substances. She was looking for a program that would help her change her life: “I had been using for a long time. I wanted to learn why I kept going back to drugs. At TROSA, I was able to focus on my behaviors and learn how to recognize my stressors and triggers and react to things in a healthier way.”
While at TROSA, Alex participated in life skills classes and evidence-based therapeutic groups. She shares that the Grief and Loss class was especially helpful in coming to terms with the loss of her father. And by participating in TROSA, she has been part of a community dedicated to recovery.
All residents participate in community assignments as part of TROSA’s treatment model. Community assignments provide a meaningful way for residents to put new life skills into daily practice and help residents make connections to others. Alex’s assignment was at the TROSA Thrift Store—an award-winning social enterprise.
“I held big responsibilities at the Thrift Store,” she shared. “I counted-out the cash registers, oversaw the clothing department, and supported the staff to help make the operations go smoothly. But there is more to it than just supporting a thrift store. This has helped me learn how to work with a team and to be more responsible. At TROSA, you have responsibilities at your community assignments. . . responsibilities at your home. . .and it all helps you. TROSA helps you prepare for a better life.” In addition to participating in classes, counseling, and her community assignment, Alex regained her driver’s license with the assistance of TROSA.
“I felt safe and supported at TROSA.” Today, Alex is a proud TROSA graduate. She graduated in 2020, moved back to her home region in North Carolina, and works for a local business. She is saving-up for a home that she plans to build. She is in a healthy relationship and has regained her family’s trust, which she says is “an amazing feeling.”
Alex has enjoyed learning about herself and has a new appreciation for who she is: “I’m finding myself again and finding out that I can be there for others, too”.