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Jennifer grew up in an environment she calls “dysfunctional.” Her mom was sober when she was going to church, but would stop attending—and start drinking—often. Her parents never married and all of her aunts and uncles used drugs and drank regularly.

“I was probably 13 when I first tried marijuana, and I was 15 when I started drinking,” Jennifer said. “When my mom wasn’t drinking, I felt like I was being raised in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous … or at the keg parties at our house if she was.”

Jennifer lived at home until she married at 23. She had two boys with her husband, with whom she only drank occasionally. After more than a decade of marriage, the pair divorced.

“That’s when I went off the deep end and started using drugs and drinking all the time,” Jennifer said. “I started using because I had gone against my morals. I had cheated on my husband and that’s why we divorced. I was trying to kill myself, but slowly.”

Jennifer had a daughter, who was eventually taken away from her after she exposed her child to methamphetamines. “I was really in the heart of my disease. It was so bad,” she said.

Jennifer moved in with an aunt with the clear stipulation that there was to be no drugs and alcohol, but Jennifer continued to use. She had another daughter by a different man and eventually got into a physical altercation with her sister, leading to her leaving her aunt’s house. “I bounced around from place to place with my 1-year-old. I was drinking, but I’d also do meth once in a while. I’d feel (awful) about it, not do it for a while, and then try it again thinking I had everything under control.”

Jennifer moved in with a friend and found herself waking every morning at 6 to go and get alcohol. “The first thing I’d do was wake up and have a beer,” she said. “It would keep me from getting sick. I was at that point. I’d just drink all day with my daughter. It just wasn’t healthy and I knew that.”

That’s when she called the Lighthouse. She lives there now with her youngest daughter. Her boys live with her ex-husband and her other daughter lives with an aunt. She saw her older daughter recently for the first time. “It was amazing,” Jennifer said. “I felt closer to her than I have since she was born, if that makes any sense. It was great.”

Jennifer is considering moving out of state to be closer to her mom and have more support. But she may stay for a fifth phase at the Lighthouse, get part-time work, and stay locally so she can be closer to her other children. “I want to strengthen my relationship with them. I really want that.”

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