The Devil whispered in my ear,
“You are not strong enough to withstand the storm…”
Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear………
“I AM THE STORM”……….
I open my eyes in the morning and BOOM….there it is! In my face and on my mind….I can’t shake it. It’s September 23, 2016……on October 8, 2015, almost an exact year ago, the Feds pulled up on our property and unloaded about 60 agents and five u – hauls in our parking lot. My entire life has been in shambles ever since. I might have survived better if I would have had an idea what they were doing there…………….not just totally SURPRISED and SHOCKED that they showed up. And it STILL has had no ending. I don’t understand why ASI was shut down because the Feds showed up. To the normal, innocent bystander I am sure you probably are thinking “Well they MUST have been doing SOMETHING they shouldn’t have been doing……” NOPE, not true! What we were doing is minding our own business. SOME DAY………probably a long way off, the truth will come out. I had a dream. I was trying so hard to live that dream and make it become a reality. I have ALWAYS hated the way drug addicts are treated by society. It is so funny to watch people give lip service to saying that they do not have any prejudices towards drug addicts and alcoholics. Have you ever watched how uncomfortable a normal person (whatever ‘normal’ is ) is when they try to say that they have no prejudices against drug addicts and that they believe addiction is a disease? No I’m sorry, you don’t believe it is a disease………you believe it is a moral deficiency. Which is why you have such a ridiculous aversion to NOT allowing a treatment center near a school. If you believed it was a disease you would not allow a doctor’s office to be located near a school. Well let me tell you…….how it REALLY feels……to be looked down on and to be degraded and held hostage to behaviors that while using are totally beyond an addicts control. So here I am………Roz Sugarmann, recovering addict of 32 years……..clean since December 13, 1983……picking myself up from the depths of hell and desperation…….I get married and have four children and BOLDLY move out to HAMPTON TOWNSHIP where I DO NOT BELONG because of my past…….and have the audacity to want to better myself and raise my kids in a better than average school district and I go back to further my education at Duquesne University and get my Masters Degree and enroll in a Doctoral program and I become a psychotherapist and I obtain a job at St. Francis Hospital in the chemical dependency unit and then move up to securing a position at Gateway Rehabilitation Center as a Primary Therapist in the Partial Outpatient Program and then I find out through the grapevine and confidentially, that Gateway does not put recovering addicts in supervisory positions back then and if I want to better myself I better find a way to OWN MY OWN TREATMENT CENTER………(which is UNHEARD OF) but I set out to do it and ……………………… I DID IT. I had a private practice after leaving Gateway and prior to opening ASI……….I received MANY MANY phone calls from addicts who were on methadone programs and who were TRYING DESPERATELY TO COME OFF OF METHADONE BUT WERE NOT ALLOWED for one reason or another. Their clinic believed in HARM REDUCTION and would not assist them in coming off of methadone. Instead of being permitted to come off, they were kept on. My husband and I went to Harrisburg to an orientation and tried to present a plan to opening an outpatient methadone detoxification program. The State refused to allow us to do this. They said, in so many words, “Maintenance or nothing”! So we proceeded to open a Maintenance program but worked our way into getting funded to offer treatment to ADDICTS ON METHADONE. ASI was the FIRST methadone program who offered ALL LEVELS OF CARE to people on methadone and gave them the opportunity to use methadone as a TOOL to become 100% DRUG FREE. We wrote and patented a program called the 9-12-18 program. It was designed to get addicts off 0f methadone by combining treatment over either a 9 month, 12 month or 18 month period of time. IT WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL. I was SO VERY VERY PROUD. To top it off, my final dream was to have an inpatient rehabilitation center that accepted addicts who were on methadone and/or bupenorphine. My dream came true and I named it after my deceased mother…..The Mary E. Steratore Treatment Program. I knew she would have been so very proud of me. I could feel her in my heart. Addiction Specialists, Inc. had 600 methadone patients and a 24 bed inpatient treatment center. I worked 12 -15 hours per day. My husband did the same. My staff was committed I had some very LOYAL staff. I had a Nurse Supervisor, her husband as maintenance man and her daughter managing the front offie for 15 years and HER daughter was a SUCCESSFUL ASI patient……..until we were shut down and she overdosed and died leaving her 2 year old son alone. We w EONE SEE THAT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. WHY IS IT OKAY? WHY WAS IS OKAY TO RAID US AND NOT COME UP WITH ANY INDICTMENTS FOR SEVERAL MONTHS……..BUT THE FEDS COULD JUST ASSUME THAT WE WERE A PILL MILL AND THAT WE WERE A BUNCH OF LEGAL DRUG DEALERS. HELPING ADDICTS CHANGE THEIR LIVES AND SEE WHO THEY ARE IS MY PASSION………………..This has literally crushed my spirit. My heart has shattered into a gazillion pieces. I love my work. I love my patients. I love their families. I miss my family program terribly. Tuesday nights are empty. I loved having family program on Tuesdays and watching family members and their addicts recover and get healthy. I am so sad. I am devastated. What is so much worse is that my reputation as a clinician and as a recovering addict has been tainted and I just feel like I failed. It feels so horrible. I sit down to write daily and instead of writing I cry. I do not know where to turn or who to talk to. I FEEL LIKE A CAGED ANIMAL WITH NOWHERE TO TURN. THIS IS HORRIBLE.
I know there will be another chapter. I just don’t know when or where.
Just watched Grays Anatomy; Season 11 Episode 23 “She’s Leaving Home Part 2”. Addicts and their family members should watch that episode. I feel like Amelia. I feel her pain loud and clear. Gut wrenching I’d say. She had that oxy in one hand ready to just put it in her mouth and throw her entire life away. I know that sounds so stupid. But to Amelia it sounded like a huge relief. I know that feeling. I have known it for almost a whole year.
Someone has GOT to listen. Someone has to do SOMETHING. I am hoping that the Deputy Secretary to BDAP who I literally spoke with for an hour and a half yesterday MIGHT be able to begin some type of process. I don’t know but SOMETHING!
I am LITERALLY BEGGING FOR HELP WITH THIS. HELP. HELP. HELP.
“SHE’S BEEN THROUGH MORE HELL THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW.
BUT, THAT’S WHAT GIVES HER BEAUTY AN EDGE……….
YOU CAN’T TOUCH A WOMAN WHO CAN WEAR PAIN LIKE THE GRANDEST OF DIAMONDS AROUND HER NECK ” O