Brianna met her husband Justin at just 19. They started taking opiates recreationally, but it turned into a full-blown addiction. “I just had to have pills to even go to work,” she said. “I remember the first time not having them I called Justin and I was telling him, ‘I need something. I’m hurting so bad.’ He said, ‘We can’t do this anymore. We need to get clean.’
Over the next couple years, Brianna and Justin quit for spurts of time. They got married in 2011 and had a daughter, Tallie, in 2012. “I stayed clean through my whole pregnancy, but they prescribed me Vicodin in the hospital. From there I became addicted again.”
Brianna started taking rent money out of their bank account to buy pills. In 2014, Brianna left their home. “I abandoned Justin and Tallie, my own husband and daughter. Justin and I got into a fight and he told me to leave. I was just done with him telling me to leave.” Brianna stayed with her Dad. Her dealer was still bringing her pills. “We ended up hanging out one night and he asked me to do heroin with him,” she said. “We ran out of pills and it was cheaper. I have been addicted for the past four years.”
At one point, Brianna told her dad she was going to rehab; she instead moved in with her drug dealer. “After six months I called Justin. I told him I was sorry.” Brianna tried to get clean, but she was unsuccessful. “It was a vicious cycle. I could not stop no matter what I did.”
Brianna met another guy and stayed with him off and on for a couple years. She is consumed with shame when she thinks of one of the last times she left Tallie behind with her in-laws. “I go back to that night and just think, ‘How could I do this so many times?’
I didn’t even realize what I was doing to my daughter. I didn’t even feel the pain I was causing her because I was high.
“I didn’t want to be the girl that I had turned into. I wasn’t able to pray out loud to God because I had so much guilt. But I would write out my prayers in my journal, to just set me free from this disaster, to change me and to help me.”
Brianna reconnected with her in-laws and found out Justin had entered a program at the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, a sister ministry of the Lighthouse. “Justin and I talked and he asked me, ‘Do you want to change?’ I told him I was ready for this to be over.”
Brianna arrived at the Lighthouse on May 22. “I could not wait to get here,” Brianna said. “I was ready to fully surrender and change. I wanted God. I had been reading my bible and praying and getting my relationship back with him. Tallie and I were praying. Justin helped me a lot being in the program at the mission.
“The Lighthouse has made me somebody I’ve never been before. Having a relationship with God has opened up my eyes and let me love myself and my husband and my daughter like I’ve never experienced before. I have a real marriage now. Our family is complete because of God.”
Brianna beams when she talks about her daughter. “Tallie loves it here,” she said. “She started first grade and she got student of the month. I see huge changes in her. It’s just such a blessing—she’s a totally different little girl. She’s a huge inspiration to me.”
Justin graduated his program, and Brianna, now 29, is set to graduate in February. “I’m excited about what God holds for our future, and Jesus being our foundation, our rock of our family and always putting him first,” she said. “I just feel like he’ll lead us to wherever he wants us and we’ll be willing to do it.”
Brianna said she knows she’s at the Lighthouse for a reason. “I really like reaching out to my sisters. I think it’s very important for them and other people too, to have that little bit of hope or that little bit of light that shines in their life so they can be saved as well, so they can have a life and a future and feel the love of God. If I can do that in one person’s life, I would love that.”