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First Time's a Charm

New Heights resident goes all in for recovery, and it’s paying off

For as long as addiction has been studied, genetic and environmental factors have accounted for its presence in individuals. For Rachel Anthony, opioid dependency seems to have its roots in both nature and nurture.

“My dad was a heroin addict, and he taught me pretty early on to drug seek,” says Anthony, who began abusing painkillers at age 13.

The prescriptions were in steady supply from early on as a result of multiple surgeries during her childhood. As the dependency progressed, she began using heroin, and added methamphetamine into the mix. In her twenties, “things really got out of hand” when she found herself homeless, out of work, and without any contact to her family.

“I knew I had enough.”

“I had made myself truly untrustable and it had nothing but negative effects on my life,” she says. After four years on the streets, she was sentenced to nine months in prison, which forced her to suffer through withdrawals behind bars, and meanwhile instilled in her a new resolve to never return to the lifestyle that led her there. “I knew I had enough,” says Anthony. “I want a sober life. I want something more to grasp at than the daily grind.”

Find the right path

Anthony acted on her new resolve when she got out of prison and entered inpatient treatment. Upon completion she continued into an intensive outpatient program, and moved into New Heights. There, she rediscovered a sense of freedom that she had lost - first to addiction, then to incarceration. “It’s like a landing pad for me to start living my life again,” she says of the sober house.

With her newfound freedom at New Heights, and in her first experience with recovery no less, Anthony has explored the many avenues toward wellness to find a path that best suits her. She started by attending various 12-step groups, and found a model that worked for her after talking to housemates at New Heights, all in various stages of recovery.

“It’s like a landing pad for me to start living my life again.”

For Anthony, meditation has played a major role in dealing with difficult emotions like shame, guilt and regret - emotions she once used drugs to cope with. Peers at New Heights introduced her to a variety of 12-step formats, including weekly meditation groups, which proved to be an ideal spiritual supplement to traditional AA and NA meetings.

“It’s really opened my eyes and helped with my sobriety,” she says, “and without New Heights I wouldn’t have been able to find that.” At New Heights, Anthony found the support, accountability and opportunity to harness her own internal drive and make her first encounter with recovery a lasting one.

Mending ties

Her progress has not gone unnoticed - Anthony says that after four years without speaking to her family, she is finally mending the ties she cut during her addiction. Her mother has welcomed Anthony into her home, and her daughter has welcomed her back into her life.

“Without being sober I know that I wouldn’t have a relationship with them at all,” she says. “We’re rebuilding, but it feels awesome. It gives me the hope that I need to keep going.”


This story appears in the Fall issue of New Heights quarterly magazine.

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