It was a picture perfect childhood – a loving family that provided everything a daughter needed, encouraged participation in sports, supported her in academics, and provided a college education.
But problems were lurking just beneath the surface for Tiffany Dobbs. She grew up in Fort Myers, Florida, where drinking was an accepted part of the culture, and people started drinking at a young age. Tiffany was no exception.
That lifestyle – lots of alcohol and occasionally party drugs – followed her to college and into her successful career in sales and marketing. It was always part of her life – a way to relax and have fun – but there were never any consequences … until she faced her first trauma.
When she was 33 years old, her father died suddenly. He raised her after her parents divorced when she was young. He had been her everything.
Tiffany was mad at the world. She felt alone and was overcome with guilt and shame at not having been able to help her father, so she turned to what had been ever-present in her life – alcohol. She would party with friends, then come home and drink herself to sleep.
But Tiffany was so good at hiding it that even the man she married shortly after her father’s death did not know she had a problem with alcohol.
After several miscarriages, her depression deepened. She moved to California with her husband and their 4-year-old son in 2012. They seemingly had everything, including a beautiful place to live. But on the inside, she was in turmoil.
Tiffany knew something was wrong, so she left her husband. But he wasn’t the problem. A bad divorce and joint custody followed, but her drinking progressed.
She moved back to Kentucky to be close to family and entered a 30-day treatment program.
“At that facility, I was introduced to God and recovery. I can remember telling myself that I certainly did not belong there because I wasn’t as serious as the people there (yet). With every fiber of my being, I thought that since I was abstaining for 30 days, I would be able to go back to my life and drink socially again.”
“I clawed my way back for a while but couldn’t stop drinking on my own. I could never acknowledge the fact that I had a problem. I was so afraid of giving up alcohol because I did not think I could survive without it. I hated the way I felt all the time. I always felt alone and worthless no matter where I was or who I was with. Alcohol always seemed to be the answer to everything.”
By 2017, her ex-husband remarried, and she agreed to step away from parenting so her son could have a normal life. Tiffany no longer had the will to live. All the things she swore she would never do, she eventually did. She tried heroin and overdosed the first time she put the needle in her arm.
Tiffany ended up at the Trillium Center in Corbin. She was on her last breath of wanting to live, but she had a good counselor there who recommended a short-term, faith-based residential treatment program at Lydia’s House in Harlan County. She felt the love of God through the people who worked there. People who didn’t even know her showed her love and planted a seed that life could be worth living. They recommended that she completely start over, get involved with a 12-step program, and regain her worth.
When she left the program, Tiffany went to a sober-living house in Lexington with nothing except $200 in her checking account. She had to rebuild her life. Tiffany attended 12-step meetings, found a sponsor, and got a job – all requirements of the program. She started over with nothing, which was humbling. But she followed the plan.
“I still felt very alone in the world, but I felt the presence of God and trusted Him with my life. Through the entire process, I was able to work through my guilt and shame and focus on the future. I was even able to restore a relationship with my mother and was able to have a good relationship with her up until her death in April 2020.”
The pieces fell into place – new apartment, new job back in her field of marketing, a relationship with God, and complete abstinence.
But her life was about to change again. While at a women’s Bible study, the leader asked attendees to pray and ask God what His purpose was for their lives. Six hours later, Tiffany received a Facebook message out of the blue from the assistant director at Lydia’s House, who offered her an opportunity to work for Addiction Recovery Care.
Tiffany took the leap, and life hasn’t been the same since. She is back in the place where she found sobriety and restoration. She went to a peer support training, has served as a residential admissions specialist, peer support specialist, and community liaison for Bell and Harlan counties. She is now a residential counselor aide at the same house that she attended more than three years ago. Tiffany also participates in a jail ministry for women with other women from her church – Faith Baptist in Myra, KY – under the guidance of her spiritual mentor, Pastor Dave Hammond.
With encouragement from a counselor and her close network of friends, she returned to school and will graduate in December with a master’s degree in counseling from Lindsey Wilson College.
“I also chose to pursue this as a living amends to my father. He always wanted me to get my master’s degree and that would have made him very happy. I am surrounded by people I love and have been given the opportunity to show that love to others who need it as I did a few years ago. I continue to live by a simple policy: Trust God, clean house, and help others.”