After Having Her Baby In Jail, This Mom Shares Her Story Of Sobriety And How Female Friendships Helped Her Stay On The Path

By Anna, for New Directions For Women

My name is Anna, and more than anything, I am looking forward to my future and what’s in store for me and my one-year old son Bradley. I had been in my active addiction for 24 years. I was living in a cycle of prisons and rehabs.

In the past when I was getting ready to leave rehab, I was already thinking about my next use or fix. Now I truly understand what the phrase “the obsession was lifted” means.

I attribute that to being in treatment at New Directions for Women (NDFW) for seven months, most of it during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of my other treatment programs were only 30 days, and they were co-ed. This time around at NDFW, it was exclusively females which gave me a unique opportunity to build a strong recovery foundation and make solid friends with other women who are also sober. 

Being in a women-only addiction treatment center allowed me to just be myself. I didn’t have to put on a completely different persona of who I wanted men to think I was. I could get down to the root of my real issues, and not worry or be distracted about what some guy was going to think about me. 

It was a lot easier for me to be vulnerable around women than men. Women bonded together are simply more powerful. We could take over the world if we were all a team. 

When I was actively using drugs, I always felt like I was in competition with other women. Talking to their boyfriend, trying to look better than the girl next to me – it was all hustling for validation. In sobriety, I already have validation. I’ve begun healing the parts of myself that were broken and wounded so that I can just be me. 

90 days into treatment, I could feel my brain start to “come back.” In the beginning, I’d sit in morning meditation and just could not comprehend how to sit still or what the words in the guided meditation meant. Eventually, I found my way and even being able to help the newcomers who were just like me. 

My first spiritual awakening was during equine therapy group. In 2019, my son Bradley was born while we were in prison, as a result of my addiction. In group, we used tools and props to represent our 2019 year and what we hoped 2020 would bring. 

On the left, I created a jail cell using handcuffs and bars. On the right, I used a hula hoop to create a loving safe space to represent our future together. The horses came over and trampled the ‘jail cell’ and left our peaceful future intact. It was a clear sign my life was finally moving in a new direction, a brighter and clearer one. 

When I was mandated to addiction treatment, my attorney strongly recommended a longer-term stay. I was adamant about having my son with me. I knew I couldn’t be away from my new baby for even 30 days. The only place we could find where Bradley could live with me was New Directions for Women, and the bond we have built is amazing. 

I used to have to take a shot of heroin before changing his diaper! Things are totally different now – for both me and him. Bradley now rarely fusses. He’s happy and calm. He feels safe. Honestly, it’s so much easier parenting a healthy and happy baby than maintaining my addiction and all the consequences that comes with it. Today, I’m totally “adulting” and being a healthy and happy mom to Bradley. We have two kitties, and I am beyond grateful. 

Now that I’m no longer in residential treatment and “out in the world” during COVID-19, it’s me and Bradley in my little apartment. But, I’m totally fine being on my own because I stay connected virtually with all of the girls I went through this experience with. I’m consistently attending the weekly alumnae Zoom meetings. It’s so important to continue the connections you make in sobriety, and share your experience, strength and hope with newcomers so you can show them how strong they will become. 

I saw a funny meme that said, “people in recovery are doing really well right now. We are used to an invisible illness trying to kill us, and who of us hasn’t been quarantined in rehab or jail?” It’s funny, but I also know a lot of people with mental health issues and substance use disorder are really struggling right now. They’re drinking alcohol and isolating at home all day. 

My message for hope for anyone struggling with addiction, is to go for it. “My way” of doing things just wasn’t working. I had to listen and learn how to take direction. Trust the process, and trust that a wonderful and bright future is ready for you.  

I remember while I was apartment-hunting in early sobriety, I wore a shirt that said ‘SOBER’ across the front and got some interesting looks. But, I think it’s better to advertise sobriety out in the world than it is to advertise drugs and alcohol.  

I’m passionate about sharing my story because I was able to live through it. I totally cherish my story. I don’t live in any regret and I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. I had to go through the hard parts of my life to become the person I am today. If I can show anybody, male or female, how beautiful transformation from addiction to recovery is, then it is worth it.

Founded in 1977, New Directions for Women (NDFW) is a world-renowned, exclusively female, private drug and alcohol rehab program providing social model residential addiction treatment services for women of all ages, including pregnant women, women with children, women who have relapsed, had prior treatments and suffer from a co-existing disorder. Located in Costa Mesa, California, the state licensed and certified, award-winning facility touts a very high recovery rate. NDFW accepts most insurances and has partial scholarship opportunities available for those who financial assistance. For more information, please call 800.939.6636 or visit

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