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May 26 2021

Helping Miracles Happen

Helping Miracles Happen

Meet Victoria—a Recovery Matters success story. 

The path that Victoria took, like many who seek addiction treatment no matter the provider, was tangled, frightening and frustrating. After navigating that challenging journey, she has been providing the help and stability she needed years ago to people who enter addiction facilities in northwest Indiana. 

Victoria’s journey to recovery

As a single mom and caregiver to her dying mother, Victoria used cocaine, heroin, and alcohol for 30 years to numb the heartaches.

Victoria, a Recovery Matters success story

Victoria, a Recovery Matters success story, smiles with her family.

Victoria reached the bottom at 42 years old, in an alley in Gary, where she’d become so “geeked up” on heroin and cocaine that she thought she was going to die. It was March 17, 1995. 

Since about the age of 18, Victoria had been drinking alcohol, using drugs and participating in a variety of criminal activities, most involving drug trafficking. She’d been assaulted, arrested in a federal raid and shot in the leg during a robbery attempt in which a man was killed. 

She became addicted to crack cocaine, a drug she also had learned to make. Standing in that alley, worried that she was about to take her last breath, Victoria realized she had nowhere to go but up. 

“That was when I met God,” she recalled. “I prayed a sincere prayer to not let me die like that.” 

She immediately walked in a friend’s house, called Tri-City Mental Health—now Regional Health Systems—and started inpatient treatment the next day in the same building in East Chicago where she works today. 

“Once I got there, the ‘aha moments’ continued to come,” she said. “It was like, ‘you are a sick cookie and you need some help.’” 

After her inpatient stay, she spent six months in a halfway house in Gary, where she threw herself into recovery. She stayed clean, started working at casinos in northwest Indiana and attended college. 

Victoria earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and then a masters in the same subject with an emphasis in addictions and counseling. She’s pursuing a doctorate in psychology. 

In 1999, she started working at a women’s treatment center in Gary then as a case manager for a health system there. In 2014, she was let go from that job. About two months later, Regional Health Systems (then Regional Mental Health Center) hired Victoria as a therapist. 

Less than a year later, she became supervisor of the Recovery Matters program at the mental health center. She views herself as a change agent. 

“I do love what I do,” she said. “I think the most rewarding thing is to see miracles happen in peoples’ lives.” 

And, she said, she possesses the valuable perspective that comes with a formal education in addiction and the reality of being a client of recovery. She taps into that experience when a client walks through the doorway. 

“I embrace them and tell them welcome to the first day of the rest of your life because they are me,” Victoria said. “I always tell them, ‘I’m looking at you because I see me coming in the door broken.’” 

Recovery Matters is a pathway to hope, added Victoria, someone who knows all about what that path looks like.