I Am So Much More

“I Am So Much More”

We are always amazed at the transformation of the women we help through our programs. Brianna is one of those women. What is unique about her is that she was a resident in one of our houses as a participant in our Daughter’s House program and then she came back full circle to work with us!

“Hi! I’m Brianna, a grateful addict in recovery! I grew up in Harford County, Maryland in a small town called Jarrettsville.

My drug of choice was heroin/fentanyl, molly, crack, and meth (in that order). Alcohol was the vehicle that drove me back to drugs. All in all, I spent about ten years abusing or addicted to some substance. I used pills and shot heroin at about twelve years old.

The Honorable Judge Mahoney, (the judge overseeing the Circuit Recovery Court Program of Harford County) mandated me to a recovery house in Bel Air, MD. I chose Daughter’s House because the Program Director came in and spoke about it to the women in the Substance Abuse Unit at the Harford County Detention Center, and she helped me in the past with a ride to a support meeting. I thought since I already knew her that it would be easier than the other program I was considering, but little did I know how hard she was going to be on me! At that time (almost 4 years ago), I truly felt I was the victim. I continuously felt singled out. About a year after I left the house, I finally realized that every rule, chore, consequence, etc., had a bigger purpose. As a child, I never grew up with rules or consequences for my own actions. I did not know how to truly live. On some of my first days in the house, I couldn’t even sit still long enough to watch a single episode of what the girls were watching. I couldn’t befriend or truly trust anyone, especially women. My mother was also an addict, which inherently could explain why I could never trust women. I did everything wrong at that house and could never see that then. I had to keep up with all the stipulations for court, which consisted of multiple IOP (intensive outpatient) plans, therapy, and weekly drug screens. I had to get a job, which was a very humbling experience. I had to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting every day. I also had to get a sponsor and work the program steps. I didn’t want to be clean, but I wanted to WANT to be clean. I made friends with women who had been through similar feelings and experiences. I started working out again with some of those women, and we were able to attend some helpful workshops, such as meditation, yoga, art, and Narcan training. Some nights we would go home and watch a movie together or get ice cream after a meeting. I started to partake in the simple things I once took for granted, such as watching a movie or getting ice cream after a meeting.

Three weeks into my stay, I was informed that my mom had passed away that morning. The cause was determined to be a drug overdose. I remember just wanting to run away. I kept thinking to myself: “you’re not going to be able to deal with this.” When a parent dies, it’s almost expected that an addict will get high. Instead of giving in to that feeling, I thought about my son and not wanting him to experience the same thing that I just did. I was exactly where I needed to be right there in Daughter’s House. That was the safest place because I couldn’t run and get high, and another resident had experienced loss in early recovery just months prior. Everyone in the house made sure to hug and connect with me on an emotional level. That pain gave me power, and it helped me accept the death of my mom relatively quickly. I couldn’t help but think, “at least she is no longer suffering anymore”. I had to make that experience a bottom and a foundation for a new way to live. I still feel guilty for feeling that way about my mother’s death; it was easy to accept (though I still struggle with processing her death). Rage Against Addiction helped fund my mother’s cremation; without them, it couldn’t have been done. That just meant so much to me and forever will.

I wasn’t at Daughter’s House very long, but I made connections that will surely last a lifetime. I spent a few months with my grandparents after I left. I got a puppy and I got pregnant (both of which I do not recommend doing in your first year of recovery). My boyfriend and I rented a house with two others in recovery after he finished his program. Navigating life was no easy task because everything was hard in that first year. My boyfriend’s twins’ mom lost her battle against the disease of addiction just days prior to my daughter’s birth. I will never forget my son’s face when he held his baby sister for the first time; it was such a beautiful experience to be fully present for! Covid tossed us multiple curve balls along the way. We were on lockdown with a new baby and couldn’t go anywhere. I started feeling so alone and angry at the world again. The pain started to surface again, so I picked up the phone and called the Program Director from Daughter’s House. I told her that “I think I am actually ready to work the 12 steps and was wondering if you would sponsor me?” She agreed, but made it clear she was going to make me work! I already knew that, but accountability to her is what I mourned for and desperately needed. I was so nervous making that call because I left the recovery house early and now I was asking for favors. I started working on the steps, and my boyfriend and I moved into a bigger house in hopes to accommodate everyone and gain custody of his twins. My boyfriend pushed me to go back to school, but every ounce of me did not want to go through that type of struggle again. I finally agreed and became enrolled. Learning to be a mom in recovery was hard enough but learning to adapt to being both a full-time student and a mom was so emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. The connections I made early in recovery saved my life during that uncomfortable time. We eventually gained full custody of the twins, which has been such a blessing. The hardest job on this planet is being a mom. I constantly worry if I am enough for these kids, and I can honestly say that if I wasn’t in recovery and didn’t gain the tools I have as a result, I couldn’t be the parent our children need.

When I was in active addiction, I succumbed to a lifestyle that is so foreign to me today. It was only a short time ago that I decided to numb every ounce of emotion I ever had including any anxious thought, and anything real or raw was gone. I accepted that I would remain in the false sense of reality without anyone or anything unless it involved drugs. Near the end, I had a daily $1,500 habit. I should be dead. I regret sacrificing my time as a mom to my son, but I cannot change the past. I do know that everything happens for a reason. I am not sure what that reason is, and I may never know, but I often think that I had to lose everything to find out how strong I can be. I never thought I would finish my bachelor’s in accounting, but I did! I went all the way to Ohio to walk across the stage with that yellow sash because not only did I graduate, I graduated with a 4.0! Now, I belong to an international honors association for Business Management and Administration. That is truly such an empowering feeling. To know that just four short years ago I was settling into a life of self-sabotage, chaos, trauma, and the only solution I had was to try to die every day.

I still worry, but my worries today are much different. I’m no longer concerned with getting picked up on my latest warrant. In January of this year, I was concerned if I would be able to use my degree because of my record. To be honest, the entire time I was in school I worried and often questioned if any of the sleepless nights and daily sacrifices would be worth it. Today, I am so honored to say that I am employed at the very organization that truly believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. I cried when I was asked to become an employer (tears of joy, of course!) I am not only an addict anymore; I am also so much more. I am an addict in recovery, I am a mom, I am a committed partner, a granddaughter, a sister, and a friend. I am a graduate, and I am an employed accountant at Rage Against Addiction! Life has gifted me with so many blessings along this journey. The Daughter’s House program gifted me with the foundation for those blessings and I am so honored to have this opportunity to do the same for Rage Against Addiction!”

Read Executive Director Wendy Beck Messner's Note

Rage Against Addiction will be ten years strong next year! It was founded in 2014 with the mission and mindset to help individuals find recovery. In 2018, we opened our first sober living house for women and now almost five years in, we have the numbers to back up what our program is doing. It’s changing lives. Seeing is believing. Please take a listen to our podcast. “Four alumni from Daughter’s House share their personal journeys of overcoming substance abuse and transitioning back into society….” It’s powerful women taking back their lives. It’s worth a listen!

August: Overdose Awareness Month is fast approaching, and what better way to help erase the stigma of drug abuse than to share the story and photograph of your lost loved one? We understand it can be difficult to put into words and we know the pain that comes with that loss, but we also know it takes a village to fight against this horrible disease. We want to honor and remember those who are no longer here. Please send your story and photograph to Wendy@RageAgainstAddiction.com. We reserve the right to edit for content, and we will share on our social media pages.

September 9, 2023: September is National Recovery Month, and we are hosting a Bingo Night!  Local businesses have kindly donated many exciting prizes for you to win! Come find out what they are! This event will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Doors will open at 5:30pm and games will begin at 6:00pm at Abingdon Fire Hall (3306 Abingdon Road – Abingdon, MD 21009). It will be an fun-filled evening where the community can come together to celebrate individuals who are new to recovery or who have been on the journey for many years, and it will also give support to those still struggling with addiction.  Please purchase tickets here: rageagainstaddiction.org/event/basket-bingo-fundraiser/

How Can You Be A Part Of Rage?

Join National Recovery Month this SeptemberThere are many ways you can help us help others.

-You can host a fundraiser for us. Whether you own a business or not, this is a way to bring the community together.

-You can create a Facebook fundraiser for us. This is easy to do from the comfort of your own computer!

-You can become a resource if you own a like-minded business. We are always looking for ways to expand support for those struggling with substances.

-You can participate in any of our events. Take a look at our event calendar.

We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.

Addiction Connections Resource: A non-profit organization that assists with providing resources and support for addiction treatment and that educates the community about substance abuse disorder. Located in Fallston, MD. Please visit here or call 443-417-7810 for more information.

Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.

Celebrate Recovery: A local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD.​

Mt. Zion Church (1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015): every Thursday at 5:45pm. Please visit here for more information about meetings.

Mountain Christian Church (New Life Center 1802 Mountain Road, Joppa, MD 21085): every Friday at 6:00pm. Please visit here for more details.

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction.

7:00pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church: 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

Contact lisa.craig4@verizon.net for more information. The private national Facebook group is available. Please visit here to ask to join.

The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center: A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about services.

Loving An Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction.

7:00 pm every Saturday.

Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church: 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

Contact lisa.craig4@verizon.net for more information.

Voices Of Hope: An organization made up of people in recovery who advocate for behavioral health disorder prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources, who eliminate the stigma of addiction through outreach events and education, and who support all pathways of recovery including harm reduction and Narcan training. Located in Cecil County, MD. Please visit here or call 443-933-7055 for information about services.

Daughter’s House: Designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment to recovery; includes three sober living houses (Daughter’s House, Sister House, and The Cottage) located in the suburbs of Harford County, MD. Click here to visit the Facebook page.

RAA ABC (After Baby Care): Provides post-partum care packages to new mothers in early recovery. Check out our program Gift List here.

Rage Club: This program is a resource broker for families and children who have been touched by the devastation of addiction; we encourage open and ongoing conversations as we believe that is the first step in the healing process.

HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One): An online grief support group specifically for those that lost loved ones to substance abuse. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page. *Please read and answer the membership questions prior to joining.*

Wendy Beck: Founder and Executive Director

Rachel Bongiorno: Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director

Mia Ellis: Newsletter Writer and Administrator

Amanda Buddenbohn: Board of Directors

Tara Kuzma: Chairman of the Board of Directors

Sarah Hoover and Michael Nesline: Rage Club was inspired by their need to heal from their own personal loss