Did You Know?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, 55 to 99% of women in substance use treatment and 85 to 95% of women in the public mental health system report a history of trauma, with the abuse most commonly having occurred in childhood.
Here at Santa Maria, the trauma screening tool we use at admission supports those grim statistics. We know that substance use is often an attempt to self-medicate the debilitating effects of trauma. Sadly a resulting addiction serves only to further undermine the individual’s health and wellness. Most of our clients have intertwined substance use disorder and a violent history of trauma.
April Dawn and Trauma-informed care – 2018 to 2019
(Excerpts from a previous story found here). Full story here.
While in admissions at Santa Maria, April said, “I saw a sign that read trauma- informed care which I didn’t really understand, but I knew that my life was filled with violence and that I needed that.” For the first time, she felt safe in her room at the Jacquelyn campus. April began to identify with the other clients and her coach, receiving peer support. She learned much from their stories. With the skilled help of her counselors, she began to rebuild her trust and confidence. She opened up in recovery, looking at the real reasons that she had become addicted to drugs. She found that she had suppressed her feelings for years and came to understand that the abuse, fear and humiliation were connected to her life choices. She discovered that her brain had been rewired because of the years of trauma she suffered. April began the steps to heal and reprogram her brain. She became more resilient, believing she could think differently about her future. April began to envision a living a better, more hopeful life.
After completing the intensive and supportive program at our Jacquelyn campus, April continued her journey of healing at a faith-based transitional program. She put her newly-found faith firmly at the center her life.
Today, April Dawn is back at Santa Maria. She is hard at work earning her GED through our education program. She is living in sober housing on our campus. She is enjoying some limited involvement with her children, thanks to the support of our CPS liaison services. April and her children are receiving family counseling and although she won’t regain custody anytime soon, they are on the road to healing. She jumps at the chance to stay connected to the community of those in recovery. She is active in our Peer Advisory Council and takes every opportunity available to tell her story to others that are struggling. She dreams of a shot at working in technology, learning programming skills; a dream she never dared voice before.
April Dawn today – August 2020
Today, April has been reunited with her twins, age 11. The children arrived on July 16, 2020 and the family continues to live in our transitional housing. Like all parents, she is negotiating our current virtual school enrollment. She finds it challenging but is determined to make the most of remote learning. She continues both individual and family trauma-based therapy.
April has seen a positive change in her parenting skills with her therapy. Now, she is not so afraid or hypervigilant towards her sons. She no longer lives in constant fear that something bad will happen to them, so she does not feel the need to “hide them away or even to hide herself”. Therapy has helped her recognize that her fears were a detriment to their development and independence. This is just one of the many benefits that recovery from addiction and trauma has afforded her family.
After a lifetime of violence, trauma, addiction, and defeat April Dawn has worked with her team to create a supportive structure for healing and hope. That structure is as individual as her own story and has been “wrapped around her” for maximum success. It takes the extensive and dedicated work of an entire staff, in concert and with great compassion, to both recognize and provide the necessary services a woman and her family need to become whole, perhaps for the first time. April’s recovery support is the very definition of trauma-informed care.
She is the face of RecovHERy.