My name is Jodi Savits and I am a grateful person in long-term recovery. For me what that means is I have not used a drug or had a drink since October 14th, 2000. The 23 years prior to that were a miserable combination of both alcohol and drugs in one form or another.
I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood on Long Island in New York. For all outward appearances it was a loving, supportive family. Early on I was a very intelligent girl who received good grades in school and was going to be a doctor or a lawyer. I went home from school every day and did my homework. I had very few friends. I guess I was a nerd. At the age of 13 I found marijuana in my father’s bedroom drawer when he asked me to grab a sweatshirt for him. I took some to school and all of a sudden other kids wanted to hang out with me. The best part was the feeling- the numb. I was smiling and laughing without having to try. And so it began. As the years passed by I found and needed more and more to maintain the numb.
Instead of accepting any of the scholarships and going to college after High School, I decided to move out on my own. I found a job and an apartment and was able to maintain both. I was just a party animal, I thought. I moved to Philadelphia, got married, had 3 children and continued to maintain and party. Around 1995 I left my husband and moved to Florida with my children. Life became much more of a struggle. That is where I found crack cocaine. It wasn’t long before my life became a total mess. I could no longer maintain. I sent the children back up north to stay with their father and the only thing that had me keeping one foot on the ground was gone. I became a homeless drug addict breaking the law to get the next one. I begged the judge to put me in jail. After I was released I returned north but I took myself with me and found the crack there.
Friday October 13th was when I reached my breaking point. I had no hope of ever stopping the insanity which just continued to get worse. I lost my job, totaled my car in an accident, was sleeping on a friend’s couch and didn’t know where my children were. After drinking all day, I decided that I would swallow a bunch of pills and just go to sleep never to awake. A friend found me and called 911. I fought with the medical staff at the hospital because I knew what I was doing and didn’t want them to stop me. I wound up in a psychiatric hospital.
After a week in the hospital I was released with anti-depressants and an appointment for follow up care. I was given a list of recovery houses but returned to the friend’s house that I was staying at. I barely made it through that night. I wanted to use something- anything. I called a recovery house the next day and was told to get right there. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even know what recovery was but I had a week clean. I walked in with everything I owned in a backpack and not a dime to my name.
I was so lost at the beginning of my process. I was introduced to out-patient therapy and 12 step meetings. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder so severe that one doctor told me I needed shock therapy. I didn’t have low self esteem- I had no self esteem. They wanted me to find a sponsor and work the steps. I knew that I didn’t want to live the way I was so I followed all the suggestions that were given to me- except the shock therapy.
I cried a lot in therapy. They helped me get to the root of many of my negative perceptions. I was adopted and thought that if my own mother didn’t want me-why would anyone else? My adopted mother was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder years after I left home. There were many negative remarks thrown my way because she was sick- not because I was bad and stupid and ugly. I came to terms with a lot of emotional baggage and instead of making myself numb- I learned to develop a support network and rely on other women.
I stayed in a recovery house for 6 months. I couldn’t understand why they believed in me but they did. As a convicted felon, I was not eligible for cash assistance so I had to learn to rely on the women around me for all of my needs. I was able to seek employment after 60 days but my rent was so backed up it seemed I would never get caught up. The staff kept believing in me and told me to continue to do the best I could. I did and I kept making payments- even after I left- until it was paid off.
The hardest thing to deal with is the negative impact my lifestyle had on my children. To this day they ask me questions or tell me things they remember that I have no recollection of. There are a lot of years that are a blur. They are all adults now and I am grateful that they have not been caught up in the lifestyle they were raised in.
The years since then have continued to be a challenge. I had to learn to live each day without picking up. My grandfather passed in my addiction and I didn’t even know until years later. When my grandmother went into hospice care, I was able to rent a car and travel to be there when she passed because I was clean. My adopted mother passed away unexpectedly and I was able to be there to take care of necessary affairs because I was clean. I now care for my older brother who is disabled because I am clean. I can be responsible today.
I went back to the recovery house with 3 years clean and started working part time. I have been there ever since and am now a director of one of the programs. I enrolled in college and am working on a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I have sat on numerous committees to help establish standards for recovery housing for the city and national organizations. I volunteer at a recovery organization and have helped organize Pro-Act’s Recovery Walk which over 20,000 people attend. I was on the Board of Directors for the community development organization where I used to reside. I have been on TV, radio talk shows and have had articles written about me in the paper and in each situation I was open about my recovery.
I realize that the years before I entered this process I was just existing- not living. The hopelessness I used to feel on a daily basis left when the drugs and alcohol did. I don’t know why addiction picked me but if I hadn’t lived the life I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I walk, talk and breathe recovery. I am not ashamed of who I was and love who I have become.
The blessings of a sober life continue to amaze me. I recently became a grandmother and was there when my granddaughter was born. I will teach her to say “Granny is in recovery!”