My name is Teresa Slaven. I am 26 years old and my sobriety date is December 28, 2017. This is my story.

When I was just a child, my three older sisters and I were put into the foster care system. I lost both my parents because of drug and alcohol addiction. My mother was an alcoholic who took her life when I was 3 years old, and my father was a drug addict who had a drug overdose and died when I was 8 years old.

I was adopted twice. The first woman who adopted me and my twin sister had to sign over her rights because we were both charged with being beyond control by the courts when we were just 14 years old. We were both drinking heavily, using drugs, and sneaking out of the house with older boys.

When I was 16, I was adopted again by a couple from New Zealand and Minnesota. They adopted us and moved us to Florida. I got married to my high school sweetheart when I was a junior in high school at 17 years old. I moved back to Kentucky with him and found out I was pregnant a few weeks later. That is when the physical abuse started.

We had been married less than a year after my son was born when I left him and moved to a domestic violence shelter for women with my son, who was just a few months old.

I entered college and tried to take care of my son as a single mother. Not long after, I met an older man who had just gotten out of prison, and I fell in love. I dropped out of college and we moved in together. A few months later I found out about his meth addiction, and it wasn’t long before I started using it with him.

He ended up going back to prison over a parole violation about a year after we had been together. My son and I moved back to my hometown to a homeless shelter. I tried getting a job and to make things work for us. That is when things really got worse; my depression started to overweigh me.

I felt hopeless — like my life was nothing more than pain and suffering, and there was no way out for me to have a good life. The drugs were only temporarily fixing the pain inside me, but I became obsessed with them.

It wasn’t long before I went from snorting and smoking meth to shooting it with a needle. I sent my son to live with his aunt because I knew he was better off without me. I couldn’t give him the life that he deserved, and I just let my drug addiction continue to spiral.

I lived out on the streets, staying wherever I could lay my head. Sometimes that consisted of sleeping outside or in old, abandoned houses. I got so high one day, and had been up so long, that I started hallucinating. I walked into a stranger’s home thinking it was my house. The law ended up coming and getting me, and I was charged with burglary in the second degree.

The judge saw that I needed help and gave me the option of a year in county jail or a year in rehab. I didn’t want to go to rehab, but it was better than jail, I thought. I went and stayed for about three months, still not thinking clearly. 

I ended up leaving and thought I could make things work on my own and try to get my son back somehow. That didn’t happen, though. 

Things got worse again. I stayed with a few friends, got a job, and tried to do my best. But now I had a warrant to serve a year in jail. I didn’t want to face it. Finally, one night one of the friends I was staying with invited me to church. That is where my life changed.

I ran to the altar and begged for God to please change my life — to give my life meaning. I wanted to be a mother to my son and not let him have any of the pain that I faced growing up. My friend hugged me and told me that Jesus loved me! That Iove was everything that I had been searching for. I had searched in the men, the drugs, and even the love for my son – but that wasn’t enough to make things different for me. 

That next day I turned my self into the Casey County Detention Center. I walked in the jail knowing that things were going to be different for me, that it was a start to a whole new life. While I was in there, I asked God to put me somewhere that would give my life meaning.

When I was released, the doors to Hope City rehab opened for me. I met people who wanted to see me have a new life, to help love me and support me to continue to move forward. I graduated from the program in April 2019, entered Hope City’s internship program, and was eventually hired on staff as a Certified Peer Support Specialist.

Every day I get to be with women who are broken, who don’t think there is hope, and I share my story with them. I have been sober now for four years in December. I have my beautiful son back in my life and get to be a mother to him. Today, I have purpose and life in me, and it’s all thanks to my father in Heaven.