Judgment by others can be painful, but self judgment can be even more destructive. In a recovering addict’s world, the look inward can be a barrier to finding a way out, but with the right help it can also lead to the road to recovery.
For Price resident Jennifer Marakis, the introspection has been both difficult and freeing. Marakis is living sober after a two and a half year relapse into addiction. Sitting down for an interview was difficult and several time she struggled with tears as she spoke of her dark journey over the past several years.
Addiction took over her life at a fairly young age. She admits to using alcohol at 16 and was hooked on crank by 18. She has spent time in prison and lived in a halfway house. Her children were taken from her and she cleaned up to get them back. For years, it looked like she had kicked the demons and was living the straight life. But as she looks back, it was a fragile and tenuous tight rope.
“I did just enough to succeed,” she said. “I was a shining star in NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and all the other programs, but I was not really connected to recovery.”
Then her world took a turn when her husband said he wanted a divorce. That night she went to a bar and drank half of a beer. In less than two weeks, she walked away from everything including her children as she became re-immersed in the world of alcohol and drugs. Eight and a half years of sobriety up in flames in a heartbeat. Even after she was busted for possession, she didn’t care.
“I had been out of trouble for over 10 years so I thought it would be a slap on the wrist. But I missed court dates and kept drinking,” Marakis stated.
She had a house that became the hangout for anyone who wanted to stay. Her “friends” stole everything she owned and she still could not climb out of the hole. Hiding from law authority and anyone who would turn her in became exhausting.
She was able to see her youngest son for a while, but her older children would have nothing to do with her. Then she was not able to go to visit with her youngest due to fear of being arrested. She looked at most of society as “living a groundhog life” because of the day-to-day normal lives they lived. She now admits it was her that was trapped in a revolving groundhog day of getting high and hiding out with no escape in sight.
Marakis began looking into treatment options but soon found that without insurance, she was over her head. Places that could help, like Vocational Rehabilitation would check to see if she had warrants. She was relieved when the arrest finally happened.
Sitting in the Carbon County Jail and sober again, she had to make a choice. Facing nine months of prison time or two and a half years of drug court, she feels like she made the tougher choice. She said that she would have easy access to alcohol and drugs in prison and would be more than halfway through her sentence right now. By choosing drug court, she feels like she screamed out for a better life.
Even then, she went into the process with the same attitude as before, but then she met her match in drug court tracker Wally Hendricks. He and Angie White have managed to get Marakis to really face her addictions and all the inner demons she was hiding.
She also credits Judge Douglas B. Thomas because he has done research into recovery and incorporates it into every aspect of his dealings with drug court participants. Marakis said she is being given new tools to deal with both good and bad situations, but she admits that the day she will no longer be under the eye of drug court scares her.
She has over a year to go and has decided to guard her sobriety like a lion. She feels like the difference between the last time and this time in recovery, is her commitment to chase recovery as hard as she used to chase drugs.
She has been able to get her children back, but the anger from them is still there. She knows she has earned that and has to show them that she will be in their lives for good.
Recently, she was shaken up when she learned that her family members had planned her funeral during her last relapse. She was shown the coffin they had picked out and it hit her how far she had fallen off the cliff.
Family members that she fall back on, have either become ill themselves or passed away. She has to stepped up and become their caretaker. She wants to give her kids the security of knowing that she will never leave again, however, it is not easy to gain that trust back.
Now, Marakis can be found at the ALANON center daily. She continues to put forth a great effort to make the center a complete and safe place for anyone struggling with addiction.She used to be among those fighting for the next high. Now, she surrounds herself with those fighting daily life. Every day she must dig deep to find out who she is and make a decision that today, she will succeed.
She is grateful for the fact that Four Corners Community Behavioral Health helps stabilize people even before they begin treatment. They arrange housing and work with individuals with financial and employment issues. “You can’t concentrate on getting sober if you are focused on survival,” added Marakis, “If you don’t have a place to live, you end up back with the same people you are trying to stay away from.”
When asked what is the one thing she would add to the community to help move people out of the drug culture, she replied, “a sober house.” Marakis will look at finding a way to get a sober home in the area as she moves through her recovery.
“Wally makes you look in the mirror,” she explained about her drug court support. “He teaches every change he can and punishes when he has to.”
Marakis concluded by saying that the stigma tied to drug treatment has to go. Seeking help should not be a disgrace, but a sign of strength and should be embraced by all.