Michelle was born to parents addicted to drugs and alcohol. She was raised in a family where relying on substances was common practice. Michelle started using marijuana and alcohol and her addiction grew to include cocaine, crack, methamphetamines and many other illegal substances.

Michelle has a total of five children; her first child was born when she was 23 years old. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of six. When he was nine, Michelle knew she wasn’t the best caretaker for him and allowed him to be raised by his father. Her second child was adopted by Michelle’s brother after Michelle was underwent inpatient treatment.

In 2009, Michelle gave birth to her third child, Emma, and wanted to do what was right for her family. She voluntarily entered substance abuse and mental health treatment after a very serious suicide attempt in 2011. After time in the mental health facility, Michelle moved into an inpatient substance abuse treatment where children could attend with their mothers. She graduated from the program and moved into a transitional residential program where she continued to receive treatment but also live with her children. Michelle was on the road to recovery when the fear of moving out on her own caused her to relapse. The state intervened and removed her daughter.

After that relapse, Michelle took seven months to work towards recovery and get back on track. She is now sober and is living on her own with her daughter Emma (5) and her daughter Stevie (1). Eckerd Kids provides Family Reunification Services for Michelle and her family, supporting a successful transition to independence for the family.

Michelle’s case is before a judge in Family Treatment Court, which specializes in supporting families with histories of substance abuse. This consistency has been very beneficial, and Michelle has also met a supportive community of others in treatment and recovery.

During this time, Michelle began taking classes at the community college and has successfully completed two semesters with close to a 4.0 average. She is currently focused on her sobriety and building a better future for herself and her children. Michelle speaks at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, sharing her story to inspire others. She wants to become an advocate for other parents in similar situations.

Michelle credits Eckerd Kids with providing her a second chance and saving her life. She does not think she would be alive today if Eckerd’s program did not intervene and help her work through trauma and loss. Michelle knows that she has a tough road ahead, but she refuses to give up.