From the time she was 18, Amber Collins used marijuana and drank – whatever was available. But in 2006, it spiraled out of control after her father died. She had no coping skills to deal with the loss.

Amber had been in nursing school but was high when she showed up to take her boards, so her career was over before it began. She was married and had a son, then disappeared from his life for two years.

Basically homeless and in her darkest moment, Amber remembers lying on a couch, unable to quit using drugs, and she tried to commit suicide. When she woke up, she was angry that she wasn’t dead.

What happened next saved her life. Amber occasionally stayed with her grandmother, and one day she stole prescription drugs and money from her grandmother, who then called the police. Amber was arrested, spent four months in jail and then went to drug court.

She was clean for three months, but she wasn’t in a program or doing anything to help her in recovery, so she relapsed. Amber went to her drug court supervisor, told him she was high and asked for help. The supervisor helped her apply for a UNITE voucher, which she used at Hope in the Mountains. Amber has been clean since Jan. 25, 2012.

She is now married with two children and currently works with disadvantaged children. With a degree in criminal justice, Amber also is working on a master’s degree in social work and is studying to retake her boards in nursing.

“I believed that I would die using – broken and homeless,” Amber said. “Now, life just keeps getting better, and I continue to pass on what was given to me. It’s my passion to help others.”