Stories of Hope & Healing
Cynthia Gomez Dandridge
When a person wakes up addicted, the plan for the day is always the same: get money, buy drugs. They don’t hope for an alternative— substances seem to be the only alternative. They feel stuck in the lifestyle.
Cindy Gomez Dandridge was born into the lifestyle. Her mother kept a drug-infested home, and Cindy and her brother were subject to abuse and neglect. Somehow, she got good grades in elementary school, but she was struggling. By her middle school years, Cindy started running away from home and staying with friends or a boyfriend. She started drug use at 14 and had her first baby when she was 18.
It wasn’t until Cindy helped an 80-year old man inject heroin that she made the decision to do something different. “Life was beginning to stand still and I asked, ‘Who am I?’ I came to the Restoration Center for detox— the four scariest days of my life. The substances had been removed and I had to face life with all the stuff that I had piled on over the years,” said Cindy.
Detox staff introduced her to The Center’s In-House Recovery Program (IHRP), which requires a commitment to stay sober. “I was really scared, because my comfort zone had become the way I had lived for so long, but I was willing to make that leap of faith to transition to IHRP,” she said. “The wonderful thing about The Center is that it touches every aspect of a person’s broken life. You have enough time away from the chaos to sit still and think about the changes that need to be made in your life. They give you hope.”
Cindy stayed at the Haven for Hope campus for four months. She found a job, enrolled in college to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and began working with Judge Ernie Glenn and the Ministry of the Third Cross.
Today, Cindy is happily married, interning with The Center and raising her two grandchildren. Cindy tells the women she works with that there is a way out— there is life after drugs. “Recovery taught me how to love again. Without love, you have nothing.”
On a cold winter night in 2009, Zachary Bullard found himself in a familiar place — the back seat of a police car — hearing some very unfamiliar words.
The officers told Zachary that SAPD, the Sherriff’s office and The Center for Health Care Services had started a new program and they could take him to 601 N. Frio — the Restoration Center, or they could take him to jail.
“For almost two years, I was in and out of detox and I ran the gamut of recovery programs —Salvation Army, Lifetime, all of them. I would sleep at The Courtyard in Haven for Hope sometimes. I went through Detox at The Restoration Center five or six times, and although I always completed successfully, I always just left, and didn’t go anywhere for treatment. I started IHRP (In-House Recovery Program), but I didn’t complete it. I heard their suggestions, and I would start feeling better, but then I would leave,” Zachary remembers.
Finally, I stayed in IHRP for six weeks and they showed me a different perspective of the steps (the AA 12-step program) at a different level. At first, to completely just give up and follow a program was really hard. I always want to do things my way and I didn’t know that I needed to try someone else’s direction. Since then, it’s been everything they always told me it would be. In May, I will have been sober for four years,” he said.
A combination of experienced counseling, an open welcome and Zachary’s will made the difference.
“I made it because people kept telling me that I could be the one in 100. The counselors never judged me, they never gave up on me. Whenever I came back, they were always welcoming. They didn’t talk down to me because I was coming back over and over, they just kept telling me what to do,” he said.
Today, Zachary is working as a Recovery Support Specialist in the IHRP program. He helps new clients navigate the program, taking them to group sessions and meetings, and supports them as they get started in their own recovery.