It’s been a long time since I blogged. im the “Blocked Blogger!!!”. haha As i reflect back over the past month i can see that
Did anyone see the HUGE COLORFUL RAINBOW 🌈 on Washington Blvd tonight ??? It was PHENOMENAL ! I’ve been praying for a miracle for quite some time. God always comes through in our darkest moment.
I’m writing to let you all know that as I was surfing the internet I got a text message that read “If you believe that in order to have anything you must give to others …….. call me at 1-800-blah blah blah…..”. So of course being inquisitive as I am, I called and left a message ! A woman returned my call the next day. She was bubbly and enthusiastic! She said, “So what made you call me Roz?” I let her know that l believe that everything happens for a reason and that my famous last words are “you gotta give to get…”!! So the woman on the phone (her name is Merry; spelled just like that!) went on to tell me about a new way to make a lot of money by “giving to others!”
It is called “FUND MY CAUSE”!!
So now….. I’m so excited to ask each and every one of you for your help !!! I have been researching this for the past several days and it sounds like something that all of us can do and make money!! It is connected to “Bitcoins”! Read up on Bitcoins. Get some information!! I’ll be posting information …. if you have any questions right them down !!!
Go to http://www.fundmycause.net and click on how it works. Shoot me a text after you read up on it and I’ll explain ! Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you !!! The monetary investment is approx. $48.00. You need $48.00 and two people you can bring in who want to make money !!!! If you want to join here’s the link you MUST USE in order to sign up under me…..
I’m going to “blog you down” with information about this!!! I was telling my friend today that asking people for money is something that I just cannot do. I’m really no good at it !!! However, I have no problem asking you to please let me sign you up for FUND MY CAUSE because we BOTH GET TO BENEFIT !!! Hence, I help you and you help me !!! Give it some thought and tell me if you are willing!!!!!
Things are looking up a little ! God is answering my prayers. He gives me little signs and He speaks through others !! Let’s do this…I need you to do it !!
412-292-8899—-FEEL FREE TO TEXT ME!!!
I look forward to getting a text from you!!!
Happy 2017 ! I hope that you all have a peaceful, serene, healthy and love filled 2017!!!!!
I haven’t written for the past few weeks. It was a very difficult holiday season however many things became very clear to me over the past weeks !!! I want to write every day; however when I sit down to write I get very emotional and I get blocked. Instead of trying to fight through it I get up and walk away. So tonight as I was thinking about what I really needed to write about I realized that the reason that I wanted to start a blog in the first place was because of my passion for working with drug addicts. Helping them change and become the person that they want to be deep down inside is truly a miracle. I used the word “passion”. Working with drug addicts IS my MAIN PASSION in life.
Since the closing of ASI I have been trying to figure out how I would get back into my work. ASI was the future for my four kids. We raised them watching us help addicts daily. As a result, they saw the good, bad and ugly of this disease. I had many addicts on my couch; in my home while my children were growing up. We taught them that addicts were sick people and the ones that we brought to our home were the ones who wanted to get better. Not all of them made it. Many of them stole from us. My kids got attached to many of them and they got hurt when the addict relapsed and abandoned them. ASI became a part of my children as well. They all knew that ASI would be their home and their livlihood, just as it was from the beginning of their lives. They went on to College and majored in Psychology. They went on to do trainings and go to meetings and listen. While they were fortunate enough to travel and chase some of their dreams, they knew deep down that they would end up running, working and living ASI just as they had all of their lives and just as they saw their parents do every day of their life.
It was pulled out from under them. Probably one of the saddest things one could watch and experience. I have never been given an answer as to why, after 20 years, there had to be that kind of ending. Nobody has ever answered why ASI could not have continued with other owners. So in the meantime, we are struggling as a family to make it daily. Sean and I both were unable to collect unemployment. We have been selling our possessions in order to live. As you know, Sean has been battling cancer…..he has no health insurance. We are bogged down with medical bills. My children were not making enough money to take care of us, our house payment, our car payment, etc….. I’m putting it all out there because each day I try to grasp at ANYTHING and it is always the same……..there is nothing there. As I am sure you all know, ASI was a lucrative business. Making an income on this disease has always been a struggle for me. I did the best I could to deal with that struggle by giving as much as I possibly could to whoever was in need and could not afford to pay. I can feel that many of the people who do not like me are taking great pleasure in my pain and probably think I deserve this on some level. There have been so many people who have lied to the FBI; disgruntled employees, jealous, envious people who live in hate of others. So many false accusations, so many untrue newspaper articles. I don’t know that I would wish what we are going through on my very worst enemy.
I get on my knees in the morning and at night. Now more than ever. I never imagined going from having everything to having nothing. I am trying diligently to get something set up for my family so that they may have an income. I am most likely going away in June for a period of time. I want them to be able to survive. The only work I know is helping addicts. My family operates as a close unit, borderline “codependent”. haha
We are presently holding each other up. I had a friend say to me, “Roz, put a status on Facebook or send a flier out and ask everyone who you have ever helped for $25.00 or whatever they want to donate…….” I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that. I’m going to continue to pray as I have been doing for the past 32 years. I have a God who is loving, caring and who has helped me get through every storm I’ve ever been through since I was 10 years old.
We will get a break. We will get a miracle. Something phenomenal will happen and God will be there helping us to put our lives back together. I want to thank all of you who have loved me unconditionally. Whether you are clean or struggling to get clean. Somebody always has it worse than I do. I still get phone calls to help addicts who are struggling……thank God for those phone calls. They keep my spirit alive. Please pray for me and for my family. I need many many prayers and I KNOW they work. God listens to prayer and God helps those who help themselves. I have been asking for a financial miracle. I learned that it is okay to do that. I would have never imagined that at 33 years clean and four children later that I would have achieved my dream and had it yanked out from under me at age 62.
I have been approached by some people to participate in something called FUND MY CAUSE. I am in the process of researching it and I am in hopes of it assisting me with a way to help addicts get clean and a way for me to continue with my PASSION. I am asking that you be on the look out for this in my next blog. I am really in need of your support in order to make this happen. Please continue to read and support my blog. I really need your help.
Thank all of you who have been there for me……..please continue praying for the addicts and family members of the addicts who are still suffering, both clean and struggling to get clean.
Christmas 2016. A rollercoaster ride of feelings. Ups and downs, tears and laughter. This is the first Christmas in 33 years that I have not bought one single gift….for anyone. If you knew at all what Christmas morning has looked like in this house for the past 28 years you would wonder if I was going to even MAKE IT through the holidays without taking the bridge…..or using heroin…….or sitting in the bathtub with a razor blade. But I can’t do that….because as I was talking to my kids last night they said, “Mum, yea we can’t buy Christmas gifts and we can’t go to New York (another yearly family tradition) and we literally don’t have money for gas…..but we are all alive. We are all breathing. There have been so many, many deaths in the past 6 months. I spent Christmas and New Years as a patient in Gateway in 1983. The Christmas before I got clean I stole all of the gifts out of my mothers car….I was pathetic. The next year I spent the holidays in treatment and the years following I spent putting my life back together.
As I’ve told all of you in my other posts, I’m having a really hard time letting go of losing ASI and trying to move on. I’m so very very stuck. I just want to sit down and write emails to the FBI and the Department of Health and VBH and Fayette County Drug and Alcohol and the DEA and so many others who I am ANGRY at and who contributed to our demise. But I KNOW that it will not do me or anyone any good. It won’t bring ASI/MES back and those people certainly will NOT take ANY responsibility for their part in any of this. See that is one of things that I learned in recovery…………I learned that when something goes wrong or bad in a relationship…..ANY type of relationship, that the blame falls on BOTH SIDES……remember, there are THREE sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth. The bottom line is that I have not had the opportunity to grieve this loss. And there are many losses that I have suffered this past year. My heart hurts. Literally. Overdoses, one after the other. 42 deaths since ASI/MES closed. And the one thing that was helping these addicts was pulled out from underneath them………….for literally no reason. I will be sentenced in May. Once I am sentenced, hopefully, I will be able to speak out. As advised by my attorneys, I have been told to basically SHUT UP. No interviews with newspapers or anything of the sort. I’m sure you can tell how I drift off into sharing about ASI in EVERY BLOG ! I apologize for that. There is SO MUCH MORE to my life and to the disease of addiction as well as the recovery process, that I would LOVE to share with all of you.
I miss you. I miss my family group on Tuesdays. I had the very BEST GROUP of family members on Tuesday nights. They were great and they worked really hard on understanding their codependency and they worked so very hard on their own recovery ! It was awesome !
I need to hear from you. I need to know what you want to hear from ME !! I so appreciate you supporting my blog and I absolutely look forward to the comments! They have been a great support to me at the absolute worst time in my life. Can you please send me your email address in the comment section of the blog OR you can just email it to me !! Rozsug1213@gmail.com
And so this is Christmas
So what have we done
2016 is over
2017 just begun
We have had many memories
At the end of these years
There was so very much pain
We shed many tears
The end of two decades
Came abruptly and quick
It was quite unexpected
It left everyone sick….
Thousands of addicts
Were helped every day
ASI/MES was a family
In many different ways
The Staff was committed
The Addicts were too
April 30 was a tragedy
There was nothing we could do
After its closing
Addicts started to die
So many families
Had to say GoodBye
ASI & MES
Were loved by all
We closed with great memories
That we could all recall
ASI is a legend
Thanks for the memories
To each and every one of you
And so this year is over
I can’t say I’m sad
ASI/MES is in our heart
For this we are glad
There may not be Christmas presents this year for the Sugarmanns, but we were blessed to have met all of the Addicts that we met over the past 20 years. We were honored to help them and honored that God put each and every one of them in our lives. There are no number of Christmas presents that could EVER equal the love, gratitude and loyality that they have shown me and my family. This year, Christmas will be remembered in honor of all of the blessings that came from the many Addicts who were patients at one point at both Addiction Specialists and Mary E Steratore Treatment Center. ASI/MES might be closed, but the memories, the recovery, the dedication, the commitment and the hard work that took place for the past 20 years by both Staff AND by the Addicts can NEVER EVER be forgotten.
God Bless You All
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays to all of you.
I love you.
I ask myself this question every day since the clinic got shut down.
When my therapist asked me what my first childhood memory was, I realized that I only had ONE childhood memory………and that memory was of my fathers sudden death of a heart attack when I was 10 years old. I don’t remember anything before I was 10 and I don’t remember anything after I was 10 until I smoked weed for the first time at age 15. So there are a LOT of gaps in my childhood……..but one thing I do remember about growing up was a FEELING I had. And that feeling was one of being “less than” or “not good enough” ALWAYS.
I remember vaguely never feeling like I was smart enough or pretty enough. Once I started using drugs I believe I felt the same way, but it just didn’t matter ! I faked it ! I talked to everyone and I wanted to be liked. I acted one way and felt another. I had a great bluff going on ! Once I got to rehab and I got clean, I was sitting in group therapy and WHAM….that feeling came over my entire body and mind and I burst into tears. I was clean and I was in touch with how I felt. I hated it !
WHERE DID IT COME FROM? WHY DID I FEEL SO BAD? I learned as I progressed in my recovery and in my therapy that I was given that message by my family. Don’t get me wrong, my family loved me very much. They just didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that telling a little girl that she needed to lose some weight gave her a complex about how she looked. They didn’t know that constantly asking a little girl what was WRONG with her would make her feel like something was WRONG with her ! They didn’t realize that they used the word SHOULD constantly and that word IMPLIES that the person is doing things the WRONG way………..or that the child makes the wrong choices constantly. I grew up in a very Italian family…………I always said I suffered from the disease of addiction AND the disease of Italianism. Don’t get me wrong, I was very proud to be Italian. I thought it was great ! In fact, we were raised to believe that people were either Italian or WANTED to be Italian ! I could go on and on about being Italian and being raised in a family who thought the only way in life to do things is the way our family did them….and everyone else was crazy ! I remember having meatloaf in the High School cafeteria and being so upset because I never saw meatloaf made with gravy. Our meatloaf in my home was a long, thick meatball with spaghetti sauce on it !!! Our stuffing in our turkey was a round think meatball stuffed inside the turkey !!! EVERY MEAL HAD RED SAUCE !! And I was taught that our family did things the RIGHT way and everyone else did things the WRONG way !!!
Unfortunately, when my father died, my immediate family was turned upside down. And everyone felt sorry for me. Poor Rozzie. I could “feel” the sympathy when everyone looked at me. My environment was depressing. My mother was depressed and my brothers were married having their own families. My oldest brother had a wife and three kids. My sister in law didn’t like me. How does a grown woman not like a 10 year old kid ? Well, I found out that it wasn’t me she didn’t like, it was the fact that my brother felt as though he was responsible for me and my mother and my sister in law was a jealous. Our family was quite dysfunctional. In all areas. Anyway, a child needs positive reinforcement…..there was not much of that being passed around. I’m in no way looking for anyone to feel bad for me. I just know that I ALWAYS felt inferior !
And as I continued my journey in Narcotics Anonymous working the 12 Steps and going to Psychotherapy once a week for years and years and years, I worked so very hard on becoming self aware and I was bound and determined to GET HEALTHY in ALL WAYS..not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually ! I talked about feeling “not good enough…..inadequate…..” I learned that it was something that ALL ADDICTS felt and it was something that was reinforced by my family without them knowing that is what they were doing. I needed to empower myself……….but HOW ? The more I learned about ME, the more I had a strong desire to CHANGE …………… The only thing that made me FEEL OKAY was HEROIN !!!!!! When I did a bag of heroin, I felt RELIEVED !!! I no longer felt depressed or less than or angry or sad or ugly or fat or dumb or unliked …………….I felt RELIEF !!!!!
After I got married, I was bound and determined to move to Hampton Township and try raising my kids with RICH PEOPLE !! I wanted to see if I could FIT IN !!! OH MY GOD what a NIGHTMARE !!! ALL of those FEELINGS of being LESS THAN came FLOODING back to me ! As I tried to be a FOOTBALL MOM and we bought a big, beautiful home on a cul de sac……..thinking to myself that if the neighbors REALLY KNEW who I was or WHAT I was they would not want their children playing with my children !!! And then I went on to Duquesne to the Masters Program and the Doctoral Program and I had MORE FEELINGS or being LESS THAN and INADEQUATE…………..and I literally FOUGHT through ALL OF THOSE FEELINGS……and I CRIED THROUGH THEM…………..
And then I worked in the field of addiction as a therapist. I worked at St. Francis and at Gateway Rehabilitation Center where I was a patient 10 years prior. And as I continued my recovery and my therapy I STILL had days that I felt LESS THAN………that miserable sinking feeling in my stomach that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough to be a therapist, I wasn’t good enough to live in Hampton, I wasn’t good enough to be a mother, I wasn’t good enough to be a wife, I wasn’t good enough to HELP anyone. …………and then I decided that I wanted my OWN FACILITY……….. and I worked day in and day out to open a program. And my husband and I, after 2.5 years of working every day and every night we finally opened Addiction Specialists, Inc. in Uniontown. We cried together when it finally opened. We were so very proud and so very happy.
And then…………..I realized that I was an administrator…YUCK ! I thought to myself, “Oh no, I have to talk with all of these NORMAL people who think that they are better than drug addicts………” I started to get very nervous and I decided that I wasn’t going to tell them I was an addict. Ya right, that didn’t work !!! Addicts are very INTUITIVE. They FEEL very deeply. They KNOW when someone is judging them. They KNOW when someone is looking down on them. They KNOW when people don’t buy the “Disease Concept”. They KNOW when others are looking at them like they are low lifes or criminals. No matter HOW MUCH people deny it. No matter what they say. It’s a feeling that the addict has……it’s very difficult to describe unless you have felt it yourself. See, here is what happens for the drug addict when they are in treatment………….especially if they are in treatment at the “methadone program”…..
First and foremost the addict is terribly afraid to stand up for themselves. The “normal” staff knows this. The addict is afraid that they will be thrown off of the methadone program. They are DEATHLY AFRAID of this…..and unless you have ever experienced a methadone withdrawal, you have no idea how BIG that fear is. So, instead of standing up for their rights, they let the “normal” people walk all over them. The addict does not have LOW SELF ESTEEM, the addict has NO SELF ESTEEM. So they would not THINK of standing up for themselves. So they STUFF their feelings and they get angry. They keep repeatedly doing this until they explode and by that time, they are too angry to speak in a normal tone. And the staff takes advantage of them. Being an addict myself, I am 100% in touch with what they are feeling. In the meantime, I was treated like a low life drug addict by MANY employees of the Department of Health and MANY employees of Value Behavioral Health. As I said, I am quite intuitive and I KNOW when someone is looking DOWN on me because I’m an addict. And THIS is partially the reason that ASI was SHUT DOWN………..because I, being an addict, had no business owning a facility like this…
Let me tell you THIS little story. There was a woman that worked at VBH, (the insurance company that we were contracted with for payment of services to the welfare recipients in the clinic….) she did not care for me ONE BIT. We had ended the meeting at my inpatient facility and she was still there speaking to one of my staff and I was speaking to another VBH employee. I was talking about where I worked in the past as a therapist and she over heard me say that I worked for Gateway Rehabilitation Center for many years. She then looked over at me, and so rudely interrupted my conversation and said, “WHERE did you say you worked Roz ? Did I hear you say you worked at Gateway?” in her more than snotty tone. I responded, “Yes, I said I worked at Gateway, why?” And she said, “Oh REALLY ? I would NEVER expect that YOU would work at GATEWAY……I thought that you worked in a prison system somewhere…..!” Well let me tell you that the other three people in the room looked like they saw a ghost ! She could not have been any more judgemental, condescending or critical if she TRIED. I was angry. And here comes that FEELING again…..of being less than, not good enough, not smart enough, not professional enough…….just a junkie, like everyone thinks.
THIS is what the addict experiences ALL THE TIME. More times than NOT. Addict s are discriminated against on a daily basis…clean or not. Addicts live in fear of being judged. Addicts in treatment are treated like ‘junkies’ and many staff members should not be working in the field of addiction because they don’t BELIEVE that ADDICTION IS A DISEASE. And the WORST PART ABOUT IT is that the ADDICT CANNOT DO ONE THING ABOUT IT because they are AFRAID.
When you tell an addict to call the STATE and file a complaint it is a JOKE. They KNOW that they will not be listened to. They live in fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of being told on. Fear of their PO. Fear that they will lose their job. Fear that they will never GET a job. Fear that they won’t get their methadone or their suboxone. Embarrassed that they are an addict. Embarrassed that they are treated like they have a moral deficiency. I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE and WHY do I know it? BECAUSE REGARDLESS OF HAVING 33 YEARS CLEAN WITHOUT A MIND ALTERING OR MOOD CHANGING CHEMICAL SINCE DEC. 13, 1983; I AM STILL TREATED LIKE I HAVE A MORAL DEFICIENCY. LIKE I’M A LOW LIFE. AND NOW, LIKE I’M A CRIMINAL. No matter how hard an addict works on themselves, they always have to live with other people’s ignorance and other people’s judgemental attitudes and condescending nature.
And now………………here I sit…….just celebrating 33 years clean a few days ago……my treatment center that was open and helping to save addicts lives for the past 20 years…..was raided by the FBI…..then raided by the Department of Health……..raided by the DEA……and then ABRUPTLY and UNFAIRLY SHUT DOWN BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. And how do I, Roz Sugarmann Addict FEEL ??? I feel LESS THAN. I feel NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I feel like a LOW LIFE. I feel like a good for nothing JUNKIE that is 62 years old and lost EVERYTHING. At the BOTTOM…lower than EVER. And why do I feel like that even if I KNOW that ASI was a GREAT FACILITY that did NOT deserve ANY of this……..why do I feel like this? I feel like this because…
My name is Roz and I am an addict.
Thank you for listening…all of you. And thank you for helping me through the most difficult time in my life.
On December 13, 1983, 33 years ago today, I walked into Gateway rehabilitation center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. Well let me rephrase that…..I “stumbled” into Gateway Rehabilitation Center…… December 13, 1983 is the last day that I used any mind altering mood changing chemicals including alcohol. As I look back 33 years ago I can still remember very clearly what the weather was like, it was snowy and cold, and what I was wearing. I had on a very old old pair of black sweatpants and a very old beat up sweatshirt; I barely had a winter coat.
I woke up that morning bound and determined to talk my mother out of sending me to rehab. She was in the basement doing laundry and it was 7 o’clock in the morning. I walked down the basement steps and I said, “Mom can I please go tomorrow instead of today?” She looked up at me while folding clothes and put her hand on the iron which was on the ironing board and she threw the iron aiming at my head and I ran up the basement steps. She said, “I Will kill you if you are not in that car going to Gateway within the hour”. At 8:00 AM the driver from Gateway pulled in front of my mothers house and we (Dante & I) got in the car and left for what was about to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life.
While driving, we were beginning to go into withdrawal. We were using at least 20 bags each (at the time a bag came in a balloon) and we were getting sick. I took 30 Librium and gave Dante 10 Ha ha ha. We then stumbled in the door of Gateway and each met with the therapist to do our intake. Because we were married Gateway had a brilliant idea and put Dante and I into a five-day family program with all family members of Addicts who were in treatment. We were sitting in group with a bunch of family members who hated drug addicts. Worst experience of our lives. On the third day we were very sick, kicking heroin cold turkey and wondering how the hell we were going to get out of there. We were in a bedroom together, we had pulled the mattresses off the bed and pulled all the bedding off of the mattresses and we were sicker than shit. In the middle of the night on the third night Gateway staff came into our room and told Dante to pack his clothes because he was being taken to Cove Forge. I became hysterical. I was crying, “you took my dope and now you are taking my husband!” Bob P. and Larry S. BOTH said “SAME THING!” I had no idea what they meant by that until 30 days later.
The next 30 days were extremely enlightening, painful and rewarding all at the same time. I had met Dante seven years prior and he was one of my drugs of choice. My whole world centered around him and I spent every day trying to make him love me. I went to any length. I made a fool of myself. I chased him. I did not care if he was with other women right in front of me. I told myself lies. I told myself that regardless of who he was with he really loved me. I bought him. I literally bought him. I gave him money, I bought him clothes, we were in college together and I literally took care of him. I wanted him to love me more than I wanted anything in my life. Eventually we got married and our addiction took off. I started realizing all of this while he was in Cove Forge and I was in Gateway. This was the first time we were separated for any period of time since we met 10 years prior. When someone asked Dante a question I answered it for him. I dressed him. I bought his clothes, I cooked for him and I did his laundry. I set out determined to make him love me. As time went on while I was in Gateway, I started to become angry at him and at me. At the end of 45 days the therapist told me that they were bringing Dante back to Gateway for five days so we could do a family program together. They thought I would be happy. I told them I did not want him to come back to Gateway but that I wanted a divorce. They were shocked. I let them talk me into bringing Dante back and try to begin to work things out. I knew right away after seeing him that our marriage was over.
We went back to my mothers to begin our recovery. Living in Washington PA was a nightmare. We were going to meetings in Pittsburgh so we moved to Pittsburgh. We started our recovery in Pittsburgh and I tried to work on the marriage. It did not work. We separated after one year and I then fell in love with Dantes sponsor. What a disaster! Fortunately we had sponsors and friends and a WE, a support group and people that could help us get through this very difficult time. We all managed somehow to stay clean.
My journey for the next 33 years has been a series of ups and downs and ups again and downs again. Sean and I got married and we had four absolutely beautiful children. We continued on a journey that God paved for us. We were given one blessing after another.
I’m not going to be able to blog about the past 33 years because it would be impossible! All I know is this:
“IF YOU ARE USING OPIATES AND YOU WANT TO STOP, YOU CAN!!!” I can show you how. If I stopped, you can stop.
Heroin was the love of my life and it RUINED me. It ruined any job I ever had, it ruined my relationship with my mother and with my brothers, with my aunts and my uncles, with ANYONE I tried having a friendship with; it ruined everything I ever touched.
And HEROIN is here TO STAY. It is not going anywhere. It is killing people every day. It’s killing kids it’s killing adults it’s killing men women children grandchildren everybody. It is one of the worst epidemics that has ever hit the country. Think about it. Those of you who have loved ones who are battling the disease of addiction. Think about how they were raised. Think about whether or not they are good people or bad people. I have a question for you? Do you get angry at people who are dying of cancer? Can you look at your loved one and honestly believe that they are using heroin or drinking alcohol only to make you angry? Do you believe that your drug addict is hurting you intentionally????? Answer this question honestly, if your drug addict could stop using don’t you think they would?
When I look back to when I first got clean I remember feeling empty. I remember feeling so conflicted. I remember looking at my family and wanting to believe so badly that I was going to be able to get through life without using a drug. I was so afraid. Each day I did not use I got stronger. Every day I woke up and I got on my knees and I asked God to please give me another day clean. I was worried. I never thoug I could do it……but I did. And so can you or your loved one. You just have to listen to someone who did it before you.
Narcotics Anonymous is FULL of cliches. Some of them sound ridiculous. Some of them hit home like a ton of bricks. Some of them I have hung my life on such as “we can only keep what we have by giving it away.” This means that if we got clean in Narcotics Anonymous that we can only STAY CLEAN if we give away what was so freely given to us by others.
My heart goes out to all addicts who are suffering from this disease AND to their families.
God, please watch over all using, suffering addicts. Please keep them safe and please keep them ALIVE. Things are worse now than ever God. Every addict who is caught in the grips of using heroin while this epidemic is going on is in danger of dying every time they shoot a bag of heroin. Please watch over them and their families and please keep them all safe.
December 13, 2016
Most of us do not have to think twice about this question, we know…………
So, I remember walking into the doors of Gateway Rehabilitation Center on Dec. 13, 1983. I knew NOTHING about addiction as a disease and I knew nothing about recovery. I had never been in a rehab before this one so I was clueless about what was getting ready to take place. Little did I know that my entire life was about to change and that walking into Gateway on that day literally saved my entire life. I remember meeting Susan, the Family Therapist; John the young new handsome therapist; Jim one of the supervisor’s; Sharon the Director; Pam the head of nursing; Dottie my therapist; Bob the aftercare counselor; Larry the Head Tech and Steve, the night tech. I also met Mickey H. who was clean for 2 years and was in treatment in order to PREVENT a relapse. (This is a thing of the past………insurance would NEVER pay for that these days !) Gateway Rehabilitation Center was founded by a well known man named Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski…………..
Nothing short of a miracle worker & Master Expert in the field of addiction. His voice is soothing and calm. He knows this disease inside and out. He literally has saved MANY MANY lives. I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet him, to know him and to work for him. Do yourself a favor and Google him ! Then read as much of his work and listen to as many of his videos that you possibly can ! That is for EVERYONE ! FAMILIES OF ADDICTS as well as ADDICTS ! He makes having this disease “ok”.
After about 4 days of being in Gateway, kicking heroin cold turkey, climbing the walls, tossing & turning, getting no sleep at all, being too cold, being too hot, body aches, stomach aches, nose running, trying to stretch my legs and them never stretching at all …………I was told by Mickey H. that I smelled like a leather wallet that was in someone’s back blue jean pocket for a whole day in 95 degree weather. I remember an interaction that happened between a patient and Dr. Twerski…………..the patient was holding his head and he said “why did I do that…………what is wrong with me…….?” Dr. Twerski responded by saying “You are an addict, that is what is wrong with you.” I stopped dead in my tracks with goosebumps running up and down my arm……..I ran to the pay phone and called by mother and my brother……..I said, “Oh my God, do you remember how many times a day, a week, a month, a year you people have said,’Roz, what is wrong with you….we never raised you like that.” “Roz what the hell is wrong with you, what the hell is wrong with you, what the hell is wrong with you……….what the hell is wrong with you Roz?” Well I said to them finally………..”I FINALLY KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME ……………I AM AN ADDICT, THAT’S WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!!” I was genuinely relieved !
But what does being an addict REALLY mean ? I was taught early on that addiction is a threefold disease—-physical, mental & spiritual. I was also taught that we are “born” an addict. I was taught that we are suffering mentally & spiritually as addicts BEFORE we pick up a drink or a drug. This theory means that as children we are not “OKAY” mentally or spiritually and we suffer until we take the first one…..the first drink or drug. I am sure you heard MANY addicts say, “I found my best friend when I took the first one……or i finally found relief when I took the first one………..or I fell in love when I took the first one…….” And addict describes their first high as the best they have felt EVER. So that first fix, drink, drug, pill or whatever it was, is the feeling that an addict has been looking for their entire life……….it filled the void of being mentally and spiritually bankrupt.We felt complete. I like to describe myself as a child as walking about with a “sick” feeling in my stomach.I remember always feeling like something was missing………….I never felt like I fit in……I felt like I was supposed to be doing something different than what I was doing.
I felt lost. I felt not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. I felt worried all of the time. My father died suddenly of a massive heart attack when I was 10 years old. I have no memory of my life before his death. His death traumatized me. I remember from his death onward………….and at age 10 I began suffering from those feelings I mentioned above. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I picked up marijuana at age 16 and I fell in love. I became confident. I felt pretty. I felt popular. I felt smart. I felt all types of false feelings !! The empty, sick feeling in my stomach was gone. And as long as I continued to use drugs, I kept that sick feeling at bay. I kept it away. I used drugs for 15 years. My family did not want me around. I never felt good enough to be part of my oldest brother’s family. I hated that feeling. Hated it. Drugs took it away. Totally.
Hence the DRY DRUNK……..or the addict who does not change………….or the addict who does not work the steps !!! So when I put the drugs down on December 13, 1983 guess who showed up? C’mon, guess !!!!! YESSSSS that’s right……….that scared, unhappy, insecure little 10 year old that picked up that marijuana. That is who showed up and oh boy, I was NOT happy. I wanted her to go away. I was sitting in group therapy in Gateway when that little girl showed up and I’m very very grateful that I was in group ! I completed treatment at Gateway and went home. No halfway houses or 3/4 houses back then. Straight to my home where I used and got high.
My journey in recovery began then.
The next 32 years of recovery were FULL. They were FULL of love, marriage, death, having kids, pain, happiness, growth, therapy, more therapy, getting a Masters Degree, starting a Doctoral program, working in the field, private practice, working at St. Francis, working at Gateway, having more kids and finally, creating ASI/MES….. (Addiction Specialists & Mary E. Steratore Treatment Center (named after my dear mother) MY DREAM. MY DREAM FACILITY. MY OWN. MY OWN FACILITY. Thirty two years in recovery. Kids grown. Family raised. My own family. I had built up and earned the respect of my family. I had worked so very hard on myself in therapy and in school and was able to hold my head up and say,
“I’m Roz, I’m an addict”…………. without feeling less than or ashamed. What a WONDERFUL FEELING. And on October 8, 2015 the FEDS showed up at ASI and on April 30, 2016 the Department of Health SHUT DOWN ASI & MES and here I am…………. 32 years clean…………..feeling the same way that I felt on December 12, 1983 ….the day BEFORE I went into Gateway……less than, broken, afraid, not good enough, not smart enough, and worst than ever I have that SAME SICK FEELING IN MY STOMACH that I had growing up………………..that only a DRUG COULD TAKE AWAY!!!!!
But wait ! I might have to go to Federal Prison for two years too.! At 61 YEARS OLD AND
32 YEARS CLEAN ! When they shut us down, we lost everything. And within days of being shut down my husband was diagnosed with Lung Cancer…………….. we lost and are continuing to lose EVERYTHING. After 20 YEARS in business. WHY ? WHY was it even NECESSARY to SHUT US DOWN?? I am SURE I sound like a BROKEN RECORD ! But I cannot believe what happened…………..It just was not necessary to get rid of the place and have all of those good people lose their jobs and for all 624 drug addicts to be put in the street. Where is the justice?
I was so very proud to be an addict at one point in my recovery. I was so very proud to be clean and to be involved in Narcotics Anonymous. I changed my entire life and my entire self as a result of my stepping foot into Gateway and getting help. It was the absolute best thing that ever happened to me……………..and I had a dream. (I sound like Martin Luther King)………………………….but for real, I had a dream. So so so many addicts were calling my private practice and asking me to help get them off of methadone. Telling me that their clinic does not help them come down. I knew this was true because I was stuck on methadone for many years in my addiction and I was taught NOTHING about getting clean and recovering ! Not one time was I told about Narcotics Anonymous. It was DOSE and GO. Period. I’m proud to say that ASI created the name “Dose & Go” clinics…………which is what they all are.
ASI was NOT a dose & go methadone clinic. Here is what took place and this is why its closing down was a TRAGEDY. See, ASI was NOT just a place that addicts came to get methadone. ASI was a TREATMENT CENTER. A FULL SERVICE TREATMENT CENTER. Plus Uniontown’s Narcotics Anonymous was a DISASTER………………it consisted of Saturday nighters who were totally against addicts on methadone or suboxone. So as a result, instead of our patients being welcomed into Narcotics Anonymous, they were shunned. They were told that they were not allowed to speak in the meeting because they were on methadone or suboxone. It was a nightmare. So as a result ASI became these addicts support group. In essence, ASI became these addicts 12 Step program. It is where they got support and love and acceptance and help and guidance. It is where their recovery began. They KNEW that ASI staff was there for them, no matter what. All the way to the Janitor. The office staff was their support. The counselors were their support. The nurses were their support……………….and unusual as it is, the OWNERS were their SUPPORT TOO ! The owners, the supervisors, the billing staff, the doctors, the PA………….ALL ASI STAFF WAS SUPPORT FOR THE PATIENTS. My FAMILY was SUPPORT for the ASI patients. We were a FAMILY. We cared. The patients felt a sense of belonging. We all genuinely cared about the ASI patients and their well being. This was NOT just a CLINIC that shut down. This was a FAMILY that was TORN APART. And it was a FUNCTIONAL FAMILY NOT A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY. I am quite sure that there are some haters out there who would say that we were a dysfunctional family; however, I consider myself an EXPERT in the field of addiction as well as in the area of family addiction issues and we were FAR from a DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY ! WE WERE AWESOME !
SO what HAPPENED ? Well, that is a $64,000.00 question. And I do NOT have the total answer to that. But I will. Because I’m not closing this door. I am NOT closing this chapter. I will be writing a book soon. And MORE than the truth will be in that book. It will be something that EVERYONE WANTS AND NEEDS TO READ !!! TRUST ME !! You are JUST going to have to be PATIENT !!! Everything you ever wanted to know about addiction in a repressed area but were afraid to ask !
Now my reality is that I am back to where I was 32 years ago. BEFORE I got clean. The feelings are all there and I feel like the same little girl I was BEFORE I got clean. The difference is that I have four fantastic children who love us very much. They were raised with a God and with a program. Somehow, we raised them with love, respect, compassion, integrity and as “givers” not “takers”. The Sugarmann’s will survive this tragedy………….please pray for us and we will continue to pray for everyone who is struggling with this disease.
I had Family Group in Uniontown on Sunday. It was so great to see everyone. Sad, but good !! Tommys girlfriend Lizzie died of an overdose. My heart goes out to him. And his mom. This disease of addiction strikes so many. Family members think that if their addict just stops using that everything will be ok. Wouldn’t that be just so easy???? They don’t understand that addiction is hereditary. That it goes back to whoever was the first to abuse alcohol. Alcohol is the oldest known drug. My Aunt Minnie was an alcoholic. When she drank the first drink she could not stop. People judged her because they didn’t know any better. Ironically enough I was her favorite. I remember my mom feeling so relieved that it became public that the Kennedy Family had a young son who was selling heroin when I was in rehab. My mother got great comfort in that. If it happened to the Kennedy Family then we were not too bad. Talk about a stigma. You know the sad thing about it? The sad thing is that it is STILL like that. I taught an addictions counseling course to the Graduate students at Duquesne University years ago. The first class I would ask the students to get out a piece of paper and pencil and I’d ask them to draw a drug addict. 90% of them drew a bum living under a bridge. I would then tell them that they should have drawn their attorney or their family doctor or their neighbor or their teacher or their own family!!!! Addiction is treated as a “moral deficiency”. Addicts are treated as if they are low life junkies. Alcoholics on the other hand are “socially acceptable”. Alcohol is socially acceptable. Heroin & Crack are NOT. And why is that? Because alcohol is permitted in society. It “relaxes” us!!!! There is so much BAD INFORMATION out there.
Addicts are “born” with this disease. They are addicts BEFORE they pick up a drink or a drug. Get educated about what this means !!!!! I have 4 children who have never picked up a drink or a drug. It is my professional opinion that at least 3 out of 4 of them are addicts and if they did pick up a drink or a drug they would not be able to stop. If parents educated themselves about the disease of addiction they could do some prevention work with their children. When my daughter Talia was growing up we went to her prom dates house for pictures. There were many parents and children there. The parent announced to everyone that he would be taking the kids keys when they come back to his home for the after party. Now I became very confused. Wow I know that these are the type of people who teach their children not to break the law. Why is it OK for their children to break the law by drinking before the age of 21? Set all this addiction crap aside. Let’s just talk right and wrong. If we taught our kids to not break the law then we would not be finding ways to help them drink before the age of 21! There is so much to be educated about concerning the disease of addiction !!! People are not interested until it’s too late.
The truth is all I can think about is my court case coming up. It’s on my mind 24/7. I feel like I’m living a fairy tale…..no, I mean I’m waiting for someone to wake me up!!! My book will be awesome. I still am being told nmot to talk to reporters. WHAT does THAT tell you?? Speaks volumes to me!!! Uniontown is POLITICALLY CORRUPT ! I can’t wait to expose them….All of them. We worked hard to help many riddled with this disease. Some got help; some didn’t.
Stay with me you guys! I need you in my life. I need to know that I have your support ! I need to know that you are well or that you are struggling. You are important to me!!!! We need to stop the way addicts are treated by society ! Thank you for always being there. I love you 😍🤓🤓🤓❤️❤️
October 21, 1987 was the most painful day of my recovery. It was Tuesday night; Beechwood was my Home Group. I remember like it was yesterday. We lived at 6345 Glenview Place in Highland Park. We had no children and Sean and I were rushing to get to the meeting. I threw on my white sweatpants and my white hoodie and we ran out the door. God forbid we be late for our home group! The meeting was packed as usual and I walked back into the step meeting which was the norm for me at that meeting. The meeting had started and my friend Gloria was sharing when I walked in the room. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. She was crying. I was concerned as we were very close and talked every day. I had not talked to her that day so something happened. It turns out that her father died suddenly. She was clearly upset and so was I. As I listened I realized that the topic was the Third Step:
“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. ” My thoughts were racing. This step made me feel guilty. The third step prayer which I said every morning and every night is “Take my will & my life, Guide me in my recovery and show me how to live.” That was not how I said the prayer though. My version of the prayer was: ” take my will and my life, guide me in my recovery, show me how to live… And please do not take my mother yet……”. I was “cheating”…….everyday. My secret I had was with only God. It was that there was NO WAY I could stay clean if something happened to my mother. I would never be able to make it. I was clean for 4 years and I had entirely too much guilt over what I did to her in my active addiction. I was so angry at her for emotionally dying after my father died. I was so full of fear. I dumped all of my crazy thoughts at the meeting and shared openly and honestly about my fears. I felt so relieved and I felt so much better. I just could not imagine living life without my mom. 🙏🏼🙏🏼
After drinking coffee with our “WE” and solving the problems of the world, Sean & I drove back home to Glenview Place in Highland Park. As soon as I walked in the door I hit the play back messages on my answering machine. The message said “Rozzie please come quick it’s your mother we will be at the hospital……”. My stomach dropped. I KNEW something was very wrong. I yelled for Sean to hurry; i played the message for him to hear. We got in the truck and I started saying the Serenity Prayer out loud. I never broke the chant the entire ride I believe Sean made it to Washington in 30 minutes instead of the regular 45. He dropped me off at the Washington Hospital emergency room. I went to the desk and I asked for Mary Steratore. The doctor came out and said “come with me.” He open the door to the room I walked in and my entire family was in the room. They all became very quiet. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were extremely worried about whether or not I was going to make it through this. My brother Gene came to me and said, “She’s gone Roz. Let’s go so you can say goodbye.” She had a massive heart attack and died at 9:00 that night…… ……..While I was at my NA Homegroup sharing about how I didn’t think I could survive if something were to happen to her. These are the “miracles” in recovery.
The funeral director went to my brother and said “Mr. Steratore, I’m sorry but we really are not able to supply the amounts of coffee your visitors are drinking. Haha. The funeral home resembled an NA function.
I was 3 months pregnant with my first born child when I lost my mom. Sean & I just got married in July of that year. We started our family and built it up to 4 children. My mother never met my children….. they missed out on a great grandmother and she missed out on four wonderful grandkids.
I had four wonderful years with my mother. She was very proud of me and very proud that I got clean. Narcotics Anonymous gave Me a new life. A new career. Four beautiful , loving children.
In July 1999 we opened our own treatment center. In 2006; the MARY E. STERATORE Treatment Center inpatient residential facility opened.
And my dear 82 year old brother responded to me…..”That’s what they do sister; they kick you when you are down.”
Why though?!!!! Why is that necessary ? How does a place stay open for TWENTY YEARS and pass EVERY INSPECTION they have and then suddenly get called on the carpet for things that have already been reviewed?
I woke up to a HERENDOUS article in the Herald Standard about how the DEA is filing a CIVIL SUIT against ASI and the Sugarmann’s for “bad record keeping” over a two year period. They are stating that 8000 methadone tablets are unaccounted for back in 2013 & 2014. NOT A SURPRISE !!
We discussed this with the DEA BACK THEN !!!! This was a result of our bad batch of NURSES at the time!!!!! And the Power of Attorney issue was resolved as well !!!!! If any of you read that article the first ? you should have is WHY is this a CIVIL SUIT? If I am being accused of taking that methadone then shouldn’t I be arrested for a drug charge and not a CIVIL law suit ? I’m so hurt by all of this…….working & living the 12 Steps has been one of Gods many gifts in my recovery. The 10th step is one step that I am extremely grateful for as it provides much relief in many areas for me. When I am wrong, I promptly admit it. It has been such a huge relief knowing that i can be humble without being humiliated. It has been so valuable to me to learn that there is power in admitting that I am wrong. I think that this is what saddens me the most…….. I have made many mistakes in my life. I have hung my hat on being ethical, being honest and doing the ‘right’ thing. As ASI grew, the more difficult it became to stay in control of things. This is when I needed help and needed to count on others to step up to the plate. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen like that. I am in no way blaming anyone else. I’m taking full responsibility for not separating the men from the boys and for not knowing that I truly needed others to be able to put their foot down. Im open minded and teachable. Two of the many gifts of recovery !!!!!
Today was good. The I to We Houses are going to grow. We will be having 4 new 3/4 houses in the very near future. Plus 2 more houses in Uniontown. God is working in our lives. He has put a “person” in our lives whose family member was taken by this disease and he is motivated to help other addicts. God put him in our path. Guardian Angel? Maybe. Hmmm….
For the first time in a long time I felt a tiny bit of relief. I do not have to understand God it is only important that I believe. I have seen too many miracles to have any doubt at all. 32 years ago I felt that I would never come out of that dark hole that I was living in. Because of my family who prayed for me, I not only came out of that hole but my life and my spirit were a huge miracle. Here I am again in that same “dark hole” only this time I know that God has a reason for me to be here. The reason has not yet been revealed to me so I guess this is when I learn to thank God for my pain…….and Trust The Process.