I was on the phone with my son who lives in LA and we were talking about how it’s been 4 years since what I call “our nightmare” took place…….a lot has happened since then but most of all life has moved on. I feel like I just woke up in a foreign place with nobody around me I know but my family. It’s really a very odd feeling.
As we were talking I told him that the only thing I ever wanted for him and his siblings was for them to be “happy”…..when it dawned on me that isn’t what I want at all. When I began my own individual psychotherapy with Dr. Mario Fischetti in 1985 after about the 4th weekly session with him I had what “I” refer to as a spiritual awakening. (I believe spiritual awakenings are of a personal nature….each awakening is autonomous !) As I sat there in silence (which was EXTREMELY difficult for me back then) I recall saying ” how do you do that Mario?” He of course responded by asking “How do I do what?” And I said “How do you just appear to be OKAY; and I mean just OKAY?” He smiled.
That is when I realized that at 29 years old I NEVER just felt OKAY! And that became my goal! My short term goal AND my long term goal! I never imagined it would be so very difficult…..something that I would have to work on a day at a time,…..for the rest of my life.
So I told my son that I always wanted him to be “happy” …. but really, I just want my kids to be “OKAY”. Think about it….are you really OKAY?
When I was growing up, the loss of my father at the age of 10 caused a knot in the pit of my stomach. I could not seem to get rid of it because everyone who was important to me, i.e. my mother and my brothers had the same knot in their stomach. They didn’t talk about it, but I knew it. I could tell. A big part of our life was missing. Sadness engulfed us.
My sadness turned into anger. I was angry at the world and pretended I wasn’t. I was lost. My mother was terribly sad. My brothers were trying to go on with their lives. My older brother was married with 3 children. He & his wife were devastated. They were young and both loved my father very much. He was a rock for them. My middle brother had just gotten engaged and was preparing to get married. This put a huge damper on a very special time in their life. And me and my mom? Well the black cloud consumed us. She didn’t want to raise me alone. I look back now and I feel so sad for her. She literally spent the remainder of her life waiting to see him again. I spent my life thinking I would wake up one morning and he’d be secretly sitting on my bed. Truthfully, the pain was unbearable for everyone. We scrambled….we ran from the pain…..we all found ways to cope…..in mostly all cases they were unhealthy ways. My mother turned to food; my older brother turned to obsessively running from officiating football to officiating basketball to working everyday at a full time job and seeking ways to be “OKAY “. My other brother suffered from anxiety and OCD ……he became bulemic and almost died…..trying to be “OKAY”.
And me? Well I found drugs. It was incredible that I found something to get rid of that agony. I spent from age 15-29 running and trying to douse the pain with any drug I could find, ending with heroin. The outcome was: it didn’t work and it made things worse. Although I graduated from College during this fiasco, I woke up at 29 yrs old in Gateway Rehabilitation Center wondering how I could be so stupid. I was given a whole new education……I learned about Roz who was suffering from the disease of addiction along with suffering from severe depression. Once the drugs were gone the pain was excruciating AGAIN.
So I set out on a journey not knowing where I was headed. However, I had learned that I was not “OKAY” and I was far from being okay! I have managed through the Grace of God to not take a drink or a drug since December 13,1983……36 years. A miracle no doubt. But……being “OK” was another story!!! Something totally different.
Once I got clean, I got a divorce and my mother died 4 years later of a massive heart attack. I remarried my soulmate and had four fantastic phenomenal children. I went back to school and got a Masters degree. We bought a beautiful home and opened a successful 800 patient full service addiction treatment center which operated successfully for 20 years and helped thousands of drug addicts. We owned and operated a competitive cheer & dance gym for 15 years. Our four fantastic phenomenal children I mentioned are between the ages of 25 & 31 and I might add that none of them have elected to even experiment with any drugs which is a story in itself! I went to prison with 36 years clean for 10 months and am now a felon who can’t vote and who is bankrupt. My second son was born with epilepsy and he almost died one years ago during brain surgery. My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer two days after we lost our business. My oldest brother, who basically raised me, died a few months ago. I had no idea the pain of losing him would be so difficult. I still pick my phone up to text him DAILY.
We had everything. After losing all of this, the knot in my stomach returned. That same knot I had when my dad died all of those years ago.
We were on top of the world. Were we HAPPY”? I thought we were. Were we “OKAY”? No.
And then it was all gone. Well all of the material things were gone. We were still here…..without the business; without the house; without the money……….now we are back to just being “OKAY”. Or should I say we are back to striving to just be “OKAY”…….one day at a time.
Do you have any idea how easy it would be to cover the pain? To just make a decision to run from the pain by getting high? Would it work? No, it wouldn’t work at all. The ride we have to take to cover the pain would not be worth it. I have spent my life striving to be “OKAY”…….I’m still striving.
So does society really comprehend addiction? Do people really understand what is at the core of all of these addicts who have overdosed and died? How can people even begin to think that addicts are just immoral derelicts who CHOOSE that way of life? As I’ve always said, “In 36 years I have never heard ANYONE say that when they grow up they want to be a drug addict.” Never once. The amount of mental & spiritual pain that addicts use drugs and alcohol to cover up is insurmountable. How can anyone judge these people? How can society not want to help ? The truth is: addiction lurks in every home. It’s just a matter of whether you are honest about it or if you choose to be in denial by thinking you are ‘better than’. Wake up universe………if everyone, addict or non addict, would live their life through the 12 Steps, the World would be a better place. Read them sometime.
I don’t know why I said I miss you …..I guess it has to do with how much my life has changed over the past 2.5 years……..I never expected to be where I am……..I’m guessing it sounds like I’m whining and feeling sorry for myself……I probably am ….and in that case you should probably go on to read something more positive and uplifting and motivational and full of gratitude instead of THIS!!!! But let me use this blog for a quick minute as a place to DUMP !
I walked out of the gates of Alderson Women’s Prison Camp on June 19, 2018. I remember walking down the hill to Administration with my new friends Brandall, Josie, Cayla, Kelly, Elena, Gena and the mix of feelings of both sadness & happiness were overwhelming to say the least. I could not WAIT to step out that gate into FREEDOM yet I couldn’t bear looking at these women who I had to leave behind. I guess what I’m saying is that I was not prepared in the LEAST to go from being incarcerated to being free. They call that step from the inside to the outside “RE-ENTRY”. Yes, that’s what the guards and prison staff is SUPPOSED to be preparing you for….REENTRY !!!! I’m fully aware that you might just be thinking that Alderson is just a “Camp Cupcake” and transitioning should be fairly simple right???
And my little 10 month sentence was NOTHING compared at all to Brandy–14 years; Josie—-2 years; Cayla —5 years; Kelly –4 years; Elena —10 years; and Gena 8 years. That’s just the tip of the iceberg……see, because while you are locked up all you can think of is how great going home is going to be ………..little did you realize that for the most part, you are being thrown back into society with no job waiting for you; probably no money waiting for you (I was in there with white collar professionals who really didn’t bury their money in the back yard to have when they came home); in many cases, no home address as of yet; an expired drivers license; no way to get a passport; and last but not least the word “FELON” flashing on your back which destroys your ability to vote or to pass a background check. Now don’t get me wrong, I can hear the mumbling and grumbling from people who are extremely arrogant and judgmental saying those famous words “well you should have thought of all that BEFORE you committed the crime.” But then again what about the majority of the inmates who are non-violent, first time offenders who ‘took a plea’ because their attorney or the prosecutor scared the shit out of them telling them that they should definitely take the plea because if they go to trial the chances are they will be given the maximum sentence or maximum jail time….. What the hell kind of justice is THAT?
So now, I have been home with my freedom for the past 8 months ……BUT, I have no business, I have no income, my credit is AWFUL, I can’t even BEGIN to look for a job…..without my criminal background check saying “FELON”and now finally, we lost our home of 22 years! If you want to REALLY laugh, you should try going to look for a home to rent with no income; bad credit and a felony on your record!! Now you tell me how FREE you would feel???? And I was only gone 10 months…..what about the women I mentioned earlier??? They’ve been out of society for YEARS!!!!!!!!
Fortunately for ME, I’m a believer! I’m an optimist I believe in oCHASING your dreams! I believe that God didn’t bring me this far and through a horrifying active addiction and help me pull myself out of hell in 1983 to have me turn right back around and fall in that same damn hole again and not get out.
I am living proof that with God, therapy, 12 steps, Hope, and the love & support from 4 over the top fantastic wonderful children and one MORE than special husband who has loved me unconditionally , I’m going to climb right back out of this hole I’m in and pass right by where I was at the top and wave to myself on my way further up!!!!!
So now that I’m feeling whole and I’ve started believing in myself again, I’m back in commission!!
“THE SECOND ACT, LLC” located at 809 McClure St in Homestead, PA will be opening March 1,2019 ! This is the only Sober Living Home of its kind in the area!!! It is strictly for the addict who is serious about recovery and who wants to take pride in “living clean”. It’s for the addict who understands that there is MORE to recovery than a clean date and that ‘using’ is merely a symptom of the disease. Recovery is about change. The bottom line is that if you want to live clean and let go of old people, places and things, this might be a fit for you. You must be employed and/or have someone who is willing to guarantee your rent for you.
This is a “MENS House” and we will be opening a “WOMENS” Home within a few weeks as well. These homes are newly remodeled and have all of the luxuries of living in a “Recovery Home” and NOT in a flop house!! If this has peaked your interest, feel free to give us a call to set up an interview. We can explain our philosophy and see if we are a fit for you! We look forward to working together and becoming a part of your journey!
Feel free to
n call or text “The Second Act, LLC at 412-690-0050 or send an email to: The2ndacttx@gmail.com
And we will get back to you!!!!
Believe it or not I am at a loss for words. Haha. It is September 24, 2018 and I am standing on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh wondering what the hell happened to my life! I am sitting on the windowsill of a store at the 900 block. I think this is where the White Tower used to be where I waited for my girlfriend to turn tricks so we could cop. I didn’t turn tricks because (are you ready for this…) because I did not think anyone would give me $20 for a blow job coz I wasn’t pretty enough. Yes, that’s what I said. Instead, I drove around with a typewriter in the trunk of my car typing bad payroll checks. She gave blowjobs and I cashed bad checks. We were a great team. (I brought in more money than her though).
We had to meet today with the US Attorney, the Trustee of Bankruptcy Court and neither Sean or I had our Social Security cards on us. They postponed the meeting and made us go to the Social Security office only to find out that we need to wait two more weeks to get our cards in the mail. In the meantime the home that we are living in could go up for sheriff sale as soon as next week and we are trying to figure out what our next move is. I am 63 years old and I died my hair blue last week. (I know I know I’m getting off track. I have a tendency to do that but don’t worry I’ll try to reel it back in!) I remember when Britney Spears shaved her head and I just knew, being the GREAT therapist that I am, that she was crying for help!!! Three days later my son Anthony shaved one side of my daughter Talia’s Head! I said “UHOH ….my kid is in trouble…..!!”
And now….SO AM I !!!!!!
So as I sit here, our attorney just contacted me and said that we can see the Trustee at 3 o’clock. We got back to bankruptcy court at 2:30 and the room was full of people. The Trustee let us be next and we sat in front of the room with our attorney while the trustee interrogated Sean in front of everyone in the room. Halfway through it dawned on me that I was sitting in bankruptcy court with blue hair. Ten minutes after that awareness the trustee questioned Sean asking him why we did not have our Social Security cards. The attorney intervened and said “over the past two years Mrs. Sugarmann was incarcerated and Mr.Sugarmann had lung cancer and their son is having brain surgery and they lost their business of 20 years and now they’re losing their home…… as a result, they must have misplaced their cards. “ The room full of people became extremely quiet and I immediately got that very dark feeling back in the pit of my gut that I lived with so many years prior to getting clean. Fear, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, inadequacy all rolled up to make a huge hole in my gut because the adjective that those feelings create is FAILURE.
I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough. Sean and I drove home in complete silence having a very loud non-verbal conversation with each other with not one spoken word. After 30 years of marriage, we are able to have a very powerful conversation with each other in total silence.
We arrived home and each retreated to our respective areas of the house. Sean in his Bedroom and me in the Family Room. I proceeded to go grocery shopping at Giant Eagle. I got there at 5:00pm and didn’t get home until 10:00pm. I walked up and down each aisle and don’t remember what I looked at. They just 100% remodeled Giant Eagle adding an ACE HARDWARE store which threw me off my square. I realized after 2.5 hours that I was totally lost in Giant Eagle and I only had 3 items in my cart. I spent the next 2.5 hours starting over and buying what felt like what was one of every item in the store. As I walked up the frozen food aisle I ran into someone in Narcotics Anonymous who I hadn’t seen in a few years. We hugged and she proceeded to tell me how bad she felt that I had the misfortune I had and said so pathetically, “ OH MY GOD HOW ARE YOU LIVING WITH NO INCOME”. My head and my gut immediately HATED HER even though I’m sure she meant no harm. Everyone who knows me knows that I made a LOT of money….and everyone who REALLY knows me knows I GAVE it away like it belonged to everyone but me. I finally got away from her because the lump in my throat felt like a KNIFE and I needed to get away from her because the only relief I was going to get was to release the 100 buckets of tears that the lump was holding back. So we said our cordial goodbyes and I turned my back to her and the DAM BROKE. I spent the next few hours sobbing in Giant Eagle. At almost 10:00 pm I went to the self checkout aisle. I stood looking at the cart wondering how much of those groceries I could steal. Yes I said “steal”. Unfortunately being the good addict that I am I revert back to old ways of thinking especially when my life is falling apart. Not only do I have real life people that need fed I also have four dogs and five cats that need to eat and the kitty litter needs changed. Yes this is ridiculous. I proceeded to self check out and fantasize about possibly stealing half of the groceries. I could tell by the way I felt that I would never make it out of the store without getting busted. So I proceeded to use my food stamp card, something that I haven’t had in 35 years. More feelings of shame, guilt, anger, low self-worth, insecurity, inadequacy, all equaling that word again ……FAILURE.
After checking out I went to the car and I opened the door of the passenger side. I quickly realized that my door accidentally “touched” and I mean “touched” the car parked next to me. I said, “oh I’m sorry excuse me.” I was not thinking for one minute that this little girl was going to try to get me for wrecking her car and for a hit and run. I proceeded to tell her to grow up, take the license plate, and call the police because I was not waiting around ……I had already been in Giant Eagle for five hours. This arrogant little girl stood with me while I loaded my car trying to get me to give her my information. As I got in the car and proceeded to drive away, she stood there with her pencil and paper writing nothing. I cried my way home and realized that I needed to get to bed because my son Nick was having brain surgery at 5 o’clock the next morning. It took an hour to put the groceries away and then I finally sat in my chair and cried myself to sleep. Don’t let me forget I did manage to pray before I went to sleep.
We spent the entire next day in Presbyterian Hospital waiting for Nick to come out of what was a seven hour brain surgery. I cannot describe the worry and anxiety that comes along with having my sons brain cut open. What else could go wrong? And I know better than to ask a question like that. I know not to test or challenge God. I know that a LOT MORE could DENIATELY go wrong!
My son Nicholas has the biggest heart of any one I have ever met in my entire life. He is genuine,sincere, loyal , loving, caring and will give you the shirt off his back. He has been struggling with epilepsy since birth. There is only ONE Nick Sugarmann. To know him is to love him.
Each day it seems as though there is more pain where that last pain came from. It feels never-ending and I can’t seem to catch a deep breath.
How do I finally put this puzzle back together again? I worked every single day of my recovery to put one foot in front of the other and “build” a new life. HOW DO I REPEAT IT AGAIN ? Stay tuned and watch it happen………..I’m bound and determined to do it again……….I’d love to have your help…….but if I don’t have any help I’m going to do it with my family and God. Stay close by and don’t bail 5 minutes before the Miracle Happens !!!!!!!
One year ago today I walked into Alderson Womens Prison Camp. I remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember being numb. I could not wrap my head around the fact that I would be spending the next year away from my family in a prison with 1100 other women.
My life was very full when the FBI raided my home AND my facility on October 8,2015. I was in shock and I stayed in shock throughout the entire series of events that took place over the next almost 3 years. I was indicted in January 2016. ASI/MES shut down on April 30, 2016 after 20 years in operation and I was sentenced to prison in July 2017. I left for Prison on Sept 7, 2017 and arrived back home on June 19, 2018.
Here I sit, one year later trying to put together the pieces of a herendous jigsaw puzzle of MY LIFE. Things remain in shambles however I have been surviving and operating on shear faith. When my faith wavers, I function on fear.
Mac Miller overdosed today. Hearing this tragedy gave me chills. All I could think was “THERE, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I”.
How many addicts are dying every day of the insidious disease of addiction? Do you have a loved one who is struggling with getting clean? Do you have any idea how it feels to not be able to stop using even when you WANT TO? So much for “WILLPOWER”. Dr. Abe Twerski said “Willpower does not work for diarrhea so it certainly does not work for addiction”!!! I would get high to celebrate and then I would get high if I was depressed. I would get high if it snowed and I will get high if the sun was out. I will get high if I got promoted at my job and I will get high if I got fired. You get the jist right? I tried many times to quit on my own. I never could stop. The obsession to use was the most powerful feeling EVER. I remember being in rehab which was the first time I was clean in 15 years. My obsession to use a drug literally drove me mentally crazy. To think that was 35 years ago and now, 35 years later this opiate epidemic is totally out of control.
So I spent the last 35 years working with addicts and their families. And now where does God want me to go? What does He want me to do ???
So far, 83 ASI patients have overdosed and died since we closed the facility. My heart and my passion is to help EVERYONE; both addicts and their friends and families understand this disease. It’s so very frustrating to read the comments about Mac Miller’s death on Facebook. The reality is that those comments show how ignorant people are about addiction. You would think that this would be true of only the older generation however that’s not the case. All ages of people lack an
understanding of addiction being
a threefold (mental, physical, and spiritual) illness. And the “PROFESSIONALS”, I.e. Physicians, Dentists, CEOs, Attorneys, the FBI, the Prison Guards, Teachers, Judges, Insurance Companies, Professors, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins , Neighbors, Truck Drivers, Religious Leaders, ANYONE AND EVERYONE including DRUG ADDICTS AND DRUG DEALERS THEMSELVES DO NOT BELIEVE IN THEIR HEART OF HEARTS THAT ADDICTION IS AN ILLNESS…….. because if they did addicts would not be dropping dead like flies or sentenced to years and years in prison for something that they are POWERLESS OVER; something that they TRY OVER AND OVER AND OVER TO STOP DOING. And also, If people understood and were educated facilities like ASI and MES would not be shut down and 83 drug addicts would NOT be dead and Mac Miller would NOT have overdosed senselessly…………And Roz Sugarmann would NOT have gone to prison for putting too many addicts in GROUP THERAPY……….And parents would not be buying alcohol for their kids and having their kids “drink safely “at home or taking their car keys so they can’t drive……..or smoking a joint with their kid because “Marijuana might be legal one day”………….It is NOT an OPIATE EPIDEMIC it is an ADDICTION EPIDEMIC and it’s been progressing to this point for many, many , many YEARS!!!!! Damn I couldn’t even come up for air between sentences!!!!!
It is INSANELY FRUSTRATING and I hope and pray something happens and GOD intervenes ……….
My name is ROZ SUGARMANN and I’m a grateful recovering addict since Dec. 13,1983.
I hope that you ALL MAKE IT TO THE ASI REUNION/PICNIC SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 @ Dunlap Park @ noon !!!!!! Help make it a great day and show your face!!!!! Show your support …..We care about you and your family !!!!!
- July 25, 2018……..I have been home from Alderson Womens Prison Camp for approx. one month. I spend every day trying to wrap my head around the events of the past 2.5 years.
The big question for me now is “what am I going to do with myself?” Every time I think about doing something other than working with addicts, I can’t picture it. There have been three deaths since I’ve been home. 82 deaths over the past two years. This is worse than an epidemic. So how do we stop it? Does anybody realize that the children that are left behind when their parents die are the ones who will suffer for the rest of their lives? I believe that addiction starts with parents. At ASI there were families of addicts coming for treatment; four and five generations deep. Thinking back on when I was using I can’t imagine my mother getting high with me. Nowadays mother, daughter, grandmother and grandchild are all getting high together! So very sad. The child/addict has no mentor or role model. Nobody to teach them how to be an appropriate, responsible member of society. If you are an addict, ask yourself these questions……..
1. Is my mother an addict?
2. Is my father an addict?
3. Are my parents clean?
4. Are my parents using?
5. Have my parents ever gone to rehab?
6. Did my parents teach me about addiction?
7. What has MY addiction done to my family/children?
As a parent you want to believe that your addiction has not had any effect on your children. In fact addicts will go as far as saying that they never got high in front of their child. Think about that statement ……..what does that mean? Do you mean that your child has never seen you actually put a drug in your body? Do you really believe that because they have never seen you put a drug in your body that they do not know that you are high? The person you are when you are high and the person you are when you are clean are not the same people at all.
Sean and I have four children. They are between the ages of 24 and 30. I was clean for five years when I had my first child. Fortunately my children did not know me or their father in our active addiction. That was a blessing. I remember looking at my first born when he was a very small baby thinking to myself……”Please God help me to make sure that my child is not an addict”. I assumed because I was a professional in this field that I would have all of the resources I needed at my fingertips in case my children needed them. I knew I would be ready when my child needed help. I remember thinking that it was inevitable that he would use drugs of any sort. That there was no way he could escape it. Little did I know that not only this child but all four of our children would not even experiment with drugs of any sort. This was something that we never ever expected. Who does that? Who goes through 30 years of their life without experimenting? I observed their behaviors and their personalities. They were addicts without a chemical. It was very clear to me. They had friends who were addicts and I had helped many of them in treatment. Many of their friends confided in me. It was a privilege and an honor.
Each one of my children were unique in their own way. Anthony my oldest was always special. My other children would always tell me he was my favorite. What firstborn Italian son is not an Italian mothers favorite? It is a blessing and a curse for them. Anthony was an extremely quiet child. He was always thinking. Being my first born I was terribly worried about him having friends and being invited to birthday parties. Lol. While in elementary school he was a loner. Always by himself. One morning when he was in seventh grade he yelled to me from his bedroom and his voice sounded as though he had gotten sick. I asked him if he felt OK and he said yes. As he continued to talk I woke up his father because I noticed that his voice had dropped a few octaves. We realized that he was no longer a baby and had reached puberty overnight. Up until this time he spent much time alone until one day he asked me to pick him up after school. When I pulled in front of the school there were approximately seven boys waiting with him…..this was the beginning of a new time in his life. He finally had friends and I was finally relieved however, this is when I realized that this child had every characteristic of an addict there was; however he chose to never pick up a chemical. Those adolescent years were some of the best years of our lives. Being as popular of a child as he was one would expect him to experiment. He never did. He managed to remain popular and have friends without having to use drugs or alcohol. I was quite impressed by him to say the least. Of course being an addict myself I wondered what was wrong with him. LOL One night he came home with his friends and it was very late. When I looked in the kitchen I saw five boys eating peanut butter, cooking eggs, making popcorn, eating cereal and ice cream all at one time. As I went into the kitchen I noticed that my son was upstairs. I looked at the boys and said “the pot must’ve been really good tonight”. They looked at each other as if they saw ghost and proceeded to deny smoking any weed. I had assumed that my son was smoking weed with them. When he walked into the room he listened to our discussion for a few minutes and then he said, ” guys you need to tell my mom the truth she knows all about it.” Once they felt me out and were comfortable that I was not calling their parents or the police, a very healthy discussion ensued. They proceeded to let me know that “Suggs” (my sons nickname) did not engage in smoking weed with them. I was quite surprised as well as very curious as to why not. So I asked him. His answer was “I like how I feel; I don’t need to change it. It doesn’t make sense to change how I feel when I don’t feel bad. “. Truer words were never spoken. Anthony went on through his high school and College years without ever indulging or experimenting with anything Each one of my four children are unique. They are very different people with two major things in common…….who their parents are and the decision to not try drugs.
Anthony has his own theory of addiction. He is presently the owner and founder of Artefakt located in LA. Artefakt is a brand dedicated to preserving, promoting and contributinga to the street dance culture. It is a platform for people outside of the street dance community to experience the real culture. http://www.artefaktlife.com. Anthony & Talia are committed to fitness, a Vegan lifestyle, and underground dance. Follow him on Instagram at ant.artefakt.
Each one of our kids are unique in their own way. They are givers. They have learned that life is rewarding but only if you help others. Sean and I never told them no. They were good kids and I never saw a reason to say NO. When we lost everything they hit a serious bottom. However we are blessed because they remain grateful and full of love. As a family, we need your prayers. If you know of an addict who is suffering, pray for them. And if you know of a suffering family of addicts, pray for them also.
**For now, if you need any help with the disease of addiction or if you have any questions, feel free to call me @412-652-2675 or email me at Rozsug1213@gmail.com
So I went to look at my Facebook Messages today……they dated back to 2015. There were messages from 43 people who are no longer alive. 43 overdoses. Dead Addicts. There were 51 messages from family members who were trying to get their addicts in treatment somewhere. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?”This tragedy continues on a daily basis and I’m trying very hard to put the past two years together so I can finally pick up where I left off and figure out what direction God wants me to go in.
I did a Skype with my friend BRANDY who is still in prison. Being on the other side of the Skype was strange. I am so far removed from being in that prison hell hole. What happened to me in there? How in the world did I get through such a travesty? And now here I sit with a HUGE 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle that was put together so carefully only to be totally destroyed by the FEDS, the Dept of Health, VBH, the DEA ……..as well as a number of people who I THOUGHT were my support and had my back no matter what.
Is this system SERIOUS? I just spent 10.5 months in a place where my every want or need or move was in the hands of SEXUALLY PERVERTED PREDATORS and ignorant, illiterate, uneducated CAPTAINS, LIEUTENANTS, GUARDS, and don’t let me forget WARDENS who treated inmates like WE were the sexual perverts. Do you think there was no PAIN OR SUFFERING ??? I was packed out and put in a filthy, nasty, dirty maximum security jail for five days because I held the Captains pubic hair in my locker while he was raping female inmates. I was put in shackles around my ankles and my wrists. I was told that if I couldn’t hold my bladder for the two hour drive I would be given a “shot.” The saddest thing of ALL is that the inmates are accustomed to being treated like pure degenerates when in reality, inmates have a far higher IQ and/or successful life than ALL of the Alderson Staff COMBINED. I’m truly embarrassed for them. And the saga continues ….Regional comes to inspect the compound and just a FEW DAYS BEFORE they come; the Alderson Staff pulls the inmates together and literally outright TELLS us that “while Region is here on the compound, things are to be done differently and that we can go back to the old way of doing things once they leave”. WHO GETS AWAY WITH THAT? The Bureau of Prisons gets away with it. When ASI/MES would get inspected by an entity, we were a nervous wreck. We worried that we wouldn’t pass the inspection. We tried to make sure that we did everything ethically and dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s. And we did….every time. Every inspection………until October 8, 2015 when the FBI made a decision to take us down. Yes, that’s what the Feds did and that’s what they ALWAYS DO. Because they don’t lose……ever.
And I’m going to say this once and only once……the Feds SHOULD have LOST this one. Because ASI/MES was built on love …Love for the Addict and for their family members. Because the staff was committed to helping addicts overcome & fight this disease that was and is killing them, their children and their families. So many lives have been lost and/or destroyed as a result of this tragedy. Just as so many Addicts were SAVED and found RECOVERY as a result of ASI/MES and their staff.
So now, I have a desire to do it again. My heart aches for the families of Tommy and Clinton and Danielle and Pudge and Pina and Big Lou and Stush and Delaware and so so many more. All gone but not forgotten 😇
So as I sit here alone, home from Prison after losing everythingand realizing that I am sitting here with the same feelings of guilt, shame and low self esteem that I had years and years ago when I first got high at age 15 and also when I started my recovery in Gateway on December 13,1983. Those feelings can paralyze me if I allow them to. How do I overcome them? How do I not let them paralyze me ? Where do I turn? I know God has not brought me this far to drop me on my head. This will not be a new chapter, it’ll be a brand new BOOK !!!!
Unfortunately, I miss my mother & my father more than ever. What I missed out on was having parents & grandparents. My mother lost her desire to be my mom after she lost my dad. I needed her more than ever. It sometimes takes years of therapy to come to terms with grief and loss. I thank God that I have four beautiful children and a husband who can understand me and who loves me unconditionally.
Thank God. I am blessed. I’m ready …… let’s go Change Some Lives!
And so at 6:30 AM on June 19 a group of solid loyal dedicated women walked me down to R&D where I waited patiently for my family to pick me up upon my release of Alderson Women’s prison camp. A very very emotional day for everybody …….the feelings were bittersweet. I said my goodbyes to Brandy, Roya, Josie, Linda, Kelly & Cayla. A group of women I shared much pain, many tears and genuine laughter with over the past year. This experience is something that I will hold dear to my heart and something that I will always cherish. One more time God knew what I needed in my life. I continue to be blessed and God continues to give me exactly what I need and not what I want. I’ve learned however that there is a very fine line now between what I want and what I need. This past year was spent soul-searching and working on myself. I got into the cargo van mail truck to be driven to the parking lot and when the door opened, Anthony, Talia and Sean were waiting patiently to pick me up. I have to say this was one of the happiest days of my life. As I stuck my middle finger in the air to so kindly say FUCK YOU Alderson, we started our journey home!!! So now what? How do I begin my life all over again? How do I pick up the pieces of the devastating bomb which was dropped two years ago on our lives? How do I begin? Where do I begin? So I spent the past week at the halfway house experiencing what all of my patients have been experiencing for years! It feels so very strange to be home. I have been released from the halfway house and am now on home confinement until July 20. I think of the women in Alderson every day. I know what they’re doing I know what they’re thinking I know what they’re feeling and I pray that they all get to come home very soon.
The prison system is the absolute worst. The fact that there are prison camps and FCI’s and different levels of security that nobody knows about is ridiculous. Alderson is a camp. It’s a very very low level security for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes. You would think that the inmates were nothing short of baby killers the way they are treated by the staff. I am extremely grateful for my many many years of recovery and years of private therapy that I have had. Thanks to this I was able to survive the brutal daily attacks on my self-worth my self-confidence and my self-esteem. Living by my motto of “TREATING PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED and NOT THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU” is virtually impossible in that miserable environment. And unfortunately knowing that society has a preconceived idea of what a prisoner is and how they should be treated, one must be very thick skinned to survive going to prison. Once again there is prison and there are camps.
As pretty much all of you were aware I became involved in the sex scandal that took place in Alderson. One of the young ladies who was sexually abused by the captain was someone who I was trying to help get clean. When I made the decision to help her I was told by many of the inmates that I needed to stay out of it. I was amazed at how many women have been brainwashed and institutionalized. They were genuinely afraid for me. I initially thought they were crazy until I first handedly experienced the retaliation that I endured. I had a very light sentence of a year and a day giving me a 10 month bid. Within those 10 months, because of my decision to help this young lady, I was put in the bus stop which is a form of torture for over 180 days out of 310 days, I received three shots and I was shipped to a maximum-security county jail without explanation for a period of five days. I was lied to and told that I was being taken there for my protection. The Warden and the Lieutenant are who signed off on sending me to the county jail only for me to find out that they were both walked off of the compound by the FBI 24 hours after putting me in the county jail. The Warden so rudely asked me if I was SORRY implying that I should have gone to him and given him the evidence that I was holding probably so that he could destroy it. He allegedly is being charged with obstruction of justice. Since this experience I have been suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as well as severe anxiety disorder. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would not do it any different. I am now trying to recuperate and get back on my feet so that I might fight and take on Alderson Women’s Prison Camp. They have a serious price to pay. To allow 1100 women’s lives to be put in the hands of a group of unethical, illegal, abusive, power hungry authority figures is absurd. Nothing short of a Class Action lawsuit is definitely in order. See, we as inmates are told that we are property of the BOP. We are not humans and we are not citizens. Once again we are property of the BOP. I have never been called “property”. Nobody knows what goes on in prison because there is no conversation following the words “they are in prison”. I have never experienced such inhumaness and unfairness in my life. There is no healthcare offered. The library is on the fourth floor of an old building with no elevators. The email is also on the fourth floor of that same building. The other email is located at the bottom of a very very very long hill. My point is that these areas in the prison are not handicapped accessible. My facility, ASI and MES, was required to be handicapped accessible or we would be shut down. There was a van that drove the handicapped places however it had no air conditioning. The bus stop which is a very large area similar to a lobby of a large hotel had approximately 20 bunkbeds in it. The bus stop is where the new inmates were housed and also where the disciplinary problems were housed. They left fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. You could not sleep in the bus stop. Remember that I told you that Alderson women’s prison camp is a camp. It consisted of people who were first-time offenders of Non-violent crimes. The majority of inmates were charged with conspiracy. If you know anything at all about the law, conspiracy is how the Feds cover their ass and make sure that they have something to charge you with.
Now i’m going to vent about the drug problem. I don’t think the country is aware of how many addicts are in prison who have never ever been offered or sent to treatment of any kind. Prisons offer a program called RDAP. It is a cognitive behavioral program for addiction. RDAP is offered to the inmates the last year of their sentence. For example if someone is given a 10 year sentence and they are qualified to do RDAP, they are given a year off of their sentence. However when they get to prison they do nine years before they’re allowed to get into the RDAP program. In other words they sit for nine years doing nothing before they start treatment. In reality it’s not that they do nothing because what they do do is get high. They use. The Suboxone problem in prisons is outrageous. A strip of Suboxone costs $200 in prison. The best part is the prison does not drug test for Suboxone. Basically because it makes too much money on the sales of Suboxone through the commissary. It’s a joke and it’s a nightmare. Many of these drug addicts would be much better off if the judge would sentence them to two years of rehabilitation with the understanding that if they relapse after they complete rehabilitation then they would be required to complete their full sentence. I would love to be able to work with an addict for two years in treatment. I wrote a full program on supporting this idea. I would love the opportunity to pilot a program of this sort.
Basically I am home praying about what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to rebuild what was stolen from me. Working with drug addicts is my passion. The opioid epidemic continues to be out of control and there has been a total of 83 ASI patients who have died of overdose since April 2016. I am almost finished writing two books. Be on the lookout! My plan is to open a few outpatient treatment facilities and continue helping people get clean! My other plan is also to never go back to prison! I thank you all for your love your support and your letters while I was incarcerated.I look forward to your comments and to your support. Stay tuned for my new upcoming YouTube channel! Yes I’m going on the circuit! I love you all and remember that God Got Us!!!!!!
March 24, 2018
So I decided I should touch base with all of you who so generously and so kindly have followed “aheroinestory.com”. I am sorry to have fallen off the world of blogging, however I was not given a choice in the matter. For reasons that I will explain at another time. I was told to “refrain from blogging” about the daily happenings in the world of “Alderson Women’s Federal Prison”. So I refrained. It was in everyone’s best interest, as it was put to me. On some level I agree, on other levels I do not agree. However, I am scheduled to go home to Pittsburgh, PA on June 19, 2018. That is my top priority now. To get home in one piece with my health in tact.
Once I get home I will be able to go into depth about the many events that have transpired. You will be reading my blog or my best selling books! Stay tuned, one way or the other.
To say the least, I have met some very interesting women in here. A hand full of them will remain in my life forever. This experience is something that is extremely difficult to put into words. It is however, something that needs to be talked about. And I plan on doing that!
This blog, my readers, and my family are the reasons that I so graciously made it through the past 7 months. As you know, I had written a blog a few months ago, that I was forced to delete. There has been a series of events since then that I have agreed to not discuss in my blog for several different reasons. At some point I will be able to share this information with all of you. Now is not the right time.
In hindsight, I can see that writing has allowed me to preserve my sanity and it has made my time go quicker. That is a blessing. I just realized that being able to write in my blog from the beginning of my sentence has kept me focused and grounded as well as in this reality of actually being in prison.
I have met phenomenal women here. Women who I would have never had the opportunity to meet anywhere else. I feel a spark with some of them. A spark that says “we were supposed to meet; our paths were supposed to cross!”. Only in prison. Only in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison.
So yesterday, the Thursday flight came in from Oklahoma. Meaning that the new inmates were on their way in the door. So here comes Lacey! Everyone is hugging her and she is excited to see the entire unit. She is very cute with a bubbly personality. She was Roya’s girlfriend in the county jail. So I introduced myself and said, “well, uh this is a bit awkward, but God forbid I ever come back here on a violation and everyone is so happy to see me! I am not real sure how I would feel about that!”. She responded, “Yes, I know what you mean. I started my bid when I was 18 years old. I am 33 years old today. I was given a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. I was with my husband who was 24 years older than me. I was an angry, rebellious kid. I was always being put in the SHU. Always getting in some kind of trouble. I started using heroin in prison. My life started to really go down hill fast”.
“Have you ever gone to rehab Lacey?” I asked. Her response was, ” Well this is my third time back here on a violation. They were all three dirty urines. Now this time I turned myself into my PO. My Po said this is the behavior he wanted to see, and he would work with me to find a rehab that would take me. Instead, he sent me a letter in the mail telling me to appear in court. I knew what this meant and it was not good!”.
So now I am baffled. Once again, this pretty attractive young girl has spent 12 years in Federal prison with not once chance to attend rehab to treat the disease of addiction that she is clearly suffering from.
What is wrong with this picture? Something is very wrong. It is 2018. in 1954, the American Medical Association declared addiction as a disease. Why is this so difficult for people to understand?
Lacey went on to explain that she was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous in prison. She celebrated 18 months clean in the program. She is aware that the program works and she knows she will need to jump back on board to get clean and stay clean again. When sharing with another addict how the program works, there is a deep level of understanding that takes place. A common bond. It is the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. If lacey commits to staying clean and taking direction one day at a time, she will thrive in the NA program here. Lacey has committed to coming with me. Let’s see if she follows through!!
So I was here at Alderson for about two weeks when Ms. Kitty told me there was a girl in my unit who has been at Alderson for many years, and that she was interested in making extra money by doing my laundry. Her name is Brandy A.
She found me in the microwave room. I was ironing my pants and I heard, “Hey are you Sugarmann? Are you sure you should be ironing while you are falling asleep?” I have had a sleep disorder since I was 1o years old when my father passed away. The past two years have been extremely stressful. I spent those years waiting to go to prison. My world had fallen apart. When I arrived at Alderson I was unable to walk without a cane. I would fall asleep while standing or sitting. I was terribly unhealthy.
I looked at Brandy and we laughed. She has been my guardian angel throughout my time here. She is God’s gift to me. Brandy is here and she is a first time offender. She was given 15 years. Her mother left her with her father when she was 9 years old. I can’t even imagine that. What the hell was her mother thinking? Brandy got involved with an abusive man at the age of 14. She had three children to him. She finally left him and raised her children on her own. She began cooking methamphetamine to support her family. She was then indicted for conspiracy to manufacturing. First time offender, never arrested for anything, never in rehab. The judge sentenced her to 15 years in prison. Jesus. When the judge said 180 months in prison, Brandy’s father hit the floor of the courtroom. Brandy’s ex-husband stepped up and took care of the children. She is grateful for that. Brandy is not the norm when it comes to being a prisoner. She works in the facilities. When she works, she works. She does landscaping and can drive every piece of John Deere equipment there is! She takes care of the compound when it snows. They wake her up at all hours of the night and she goes! Brandy is one of the few inmates who has changed her life on her own. She stopped using drugs while in prison. That is a major accomplishment. She keeps her distance from people and she doesn’t get too close. You can count the people she chooses on one hand. I can see how this happens. She has good clear boundaries. She is a true loyal friend. She is very trustworthy. After what I learned about friends and loyalty the past two years, she is breath of fresh air.
Brandy is a God sent to Roz Sugarmann. I am her prison mom. She cooks for us every day. Cafeteria food is awful. I lost 50 pounds between September and February. Brandy has been locked up for 10 years. She has never had the opportunity to learn about the disease of addiction. She gets 300 minutes a month on the phone and she divides them between her dad and her kids. She skypes them once a week. Her kids LOVE her and they miss her very much. They need their mom. She has maintained as consistent of a relationship with them as she can. I respect her for not giving up. So many other mothers have done just that. Brandy completed Alderson’s firefighter program. She is a certified Federal Firefighter. That is a major accomplishment too!! For the most part, the staff here at Alderson respect her.
I told my family that Brandy will be coming to Pittsburgh at some point! I am more than sure that if I bright only one person home from prison with me they will be grateful! LOL only ONE !!!
I have many more phenomenal women who I have met in prison. Brandy has become family. The others have crossed my path each for a different reason. I am getting excited about coming home. The simple thought of driving out of the gate gives me goosebumps. and puts a lump in my throat. This has been yet another one of God’s experiences that I have to figure out for myself what the lessons are.
The mail has dropped off over the past few months. It is okay though. I know it is difficult to write letters on a regular basis. My main concern while I am here is my family out there- at home. This has been very hard on them. Harder on them than on me. They have had to realize what life is like without their mother. It has been almost like a death. They have grown in ways that others don’t have to until they lose a parent. I guess what I am saying is.. if you are a friend of mine or “were” a friend of mine and you think of me now and then. Please replace the thought of me with a phone call or a text message or anything you can to let my family know that you are thinking of them. It will mean the world to them. It will also mean the world to me.
I am excited to come home. I am excited to go back to work. I am excited to see my family, my dogs, my cats, my house, my patients, and their families!!!
God Bless You All!
Til my next blog…..
**Half way Home**
The months go quickly and the days drag by. The worst part of being in here is worrying about my family out there. I have never been away from my husband or kids for this long of a time period. I am well rested and have lost weight. I was terribly unhealthy and stressed to the max when i walked into prison in September. I could not stay awake; my sleep disorder was full blown and I couldn’t walk without a cane. Over the past several months, I have gotten my strength back. I am preparing to make a serious come back, so Look out world, here I come!!! LOL!
When I first got here, the inmates addressed me as “Mrs. Sugarmann”. It was awful. I would correct them each time and eventually I became “OG” or “Triple OG” or “Mama Sug”, but “Mrs. Sugarmann”, just did not sit right with me. Then I realized that as an addict, our physical age and our mental age are very different. An addict’s age is calculated by clean time. For example, you take the age that you picked up your FIRST chemical, in my case, I was 15 years old, and then add on your amount of clean time to that age. So again, in my case, I add 34 years clean to 15 years old and the age comes out to be “49”. That means I am 49 years old MENTALLY, instead of 63! That makes perfectly good sense to me. I feel like I am 49 years of age and I act like it too!! If you are an addict, calculate your age with that formula and see if it applies to you! I know that when we did group therapy at Mary E. Steratore we would go around the circle and ask each member to do that. We would end up with a group of adults who acted like adolescents. The mentality of the group of addicts were anywhere between 9 and 16 years old. That was truly their maturity level. All in all, at the end of the day being an addict can be an asset! I just thought I’d share that spiritual awakening with all of you! I am sure you will be amazed at your age when you calculate it!
I have been writing my book, as you all know… it is stirring up so many different feelings from childhood. My father died of an unexpected sudden heart attack when I was 10 years old. His death disrupted our entire family system and actually, we pretty much fell apart once he was gone. His death left such a monumental impact on each one of us in its own special way. While in prison, I have been blessed with a lot of “time” to think. Believe me, my mind does not stop. I have given a lot of thought to how my upbringing played into my addiction. My father’s death, my poor self-esteem, my drug use, my recovery. I remember always wishing my father would come back just once. It was always on my mind. Always. For some reason, after my father died I felt like I did not belong anywhere. I could not fit in. I had an empty feeling in my gut. My mother lost her soul mate. She had nothing to give me. My brother Gene lost his mentor and role model. My brother Frank also lost his mentor and role model. My father was a strong man. He had his beliefs, his morals and values. Both of my parents were 100% Italian. My father had a very close large family. Losing my dad was very hard on many people. While everyone suffered in one way or another, my father’s death left a huge hole in my gut that ached on a daily basis, until I filled it with drugs. My dad loved me. I was Daddy’s little girl. I felt the loss of his love very deeply and painfully. My mother tried, but she was suffering too much herself. My brother Frank was also suffering. My brother Gene’s love for me was the closest to my father’s as one could get… unfortunately his wife was not interested in sharing her husband with us. She did not want me or my mother around, and she made my life miserable to say the least. I am sure I sound as though I am blaming or pointing the finger… in reality, I guess I am. I can’t help but chuckle about how many adults make the comment, “I don’t know what is wrong with my kid.. I don’t know why they use drugs, I didn’t raise them like that”. Really? Like what? I guess this comment brings me to the reality that drugs saved my life and got me through the most painful time of my life. I remember finally feeling like the hole in my gut was gone. Well, at least for a while, until the drugs stopped working.
As I look around this prison I see so many addicts who have no knowledge about the disease of addiction. They don’t even know that they are suffering from a fatal illness. It is so very sad that these addicts are the ones who will die or spend their lives incarcerated. Why? Because people would rather not take any responsibility for their part as an addict or as a family member. Denial is not a river in Egypt!!
So where do I start when I get home? How do I re-build what we lost? How do I continue to help addicts and their families? It gets very overwhelming at times thinking about all of it. Addicts are dying everyday. The heroin epidemic should be called the “Addiction Epidemic”, and family members need to ask for help and become educated about how to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
My goal is to open another treatment facility. I really cannot imagine my life without helping the suffering addict and their families. I know my God will point me in the right direction.
It is beautiful here. The facility has everything that is needed for a beautiful addiction rehabilitation center. It would be a stay of one year. There would be a family program for 5 days. We would treat the disease of addiction, regardless of the drug of choice. It could be heroin, food, sex, codependency, money, or gambling. Whatever the addict uses to make them feel better. The real work does not begin until the addict puts down the drug. My dream is to turn Alderson Prison into Alderson Treatment center! You never know, dreams do come true!!
And so today is another day in Alderson. I cannot imagine leaving here and never looking back. I will be leaving many new friends, many professional, bright and well educated people who do not belong in prison. People who literally have either made a simple mistake or who don’t really understand what they have done or how they even got here.
In closing this blog, I just left email and here is how extremely lucky I am as a mother:
“I love you mom. I hope you are okay. I was praying last night and I got this overwhelming feeling. I know it has to suck being in there, and I would never try to minimize it or act like it is not terrible. At the same time, I think it is pretty amazing. It just adds to your story and proof of how strong you are. You are pretty cool mum. I am so proud of you and so proud to be your daughter. I was at a meeting last night. The reading was on gratitude. Which is super hard to practice these days. So when I was sitting there listening, I started to think of everything I was grateful for. You obviously popped in my head. I am just extremely grateful you are my mother. I am grateful for our family. We have lost so much shit. Literally everything. And it really doesn’t even matter. I mean it is painful and it hurts. I would love to be able to know we are going to have a house to live in and that the electricity won’t be turned off when I get home from work. All of that is scary and painful. It just doesn’t seem too scary or painful when I think of our family. Literally, an immediate smile will come across my face. That is because of you and Dad. So I guess I feel the need to say thank you. I know I don’t say it often and I haven’t said it in awhile. So thanks. Thanks for giving me the best siblings in the world. Thank you for teaching me that material shit is nice, but it is not the end all be all. Thank you for not giving a shit about what other’s think. And thank you for loving me unconditionally. Not many people get to feel that from their families.
I love you and I miss you. You’re the shit. – Maria xoxoxo ”
How lucky am I? The luckiest mom in the universe. How can anyone fail with this much love and support behind them? And let me say thank you to all of you who continue reading my blog and special thanks to those who have consistently continued to write me or put money on my books. You have no idea how much this means to me. People in prison are pretty easily forgotten by many for one reason or another. Believe me, there is nothing worse than your name never being called during mail call. So thank you again, for thinking of me and praying for my family!
Till the next blog…..