Like many people, when Jackie Green enters her crowded but cozy office at the East Cleveland Domestic Violence Center, she is surrounded by smiling faces from family photos. She proudly points out her five children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. But there was a time at the height of her drug abuse that Jackie’s self destructive behavior brought anything but smiles to her loved ones. “It is only by God’s grace my children weren’t hurt or killed by my actions or disregard of who I brought into my home.” Click here to read more of Jackie’s story.
Growing up in Cleveland, Jackie spent the majority of her formative years in her grandparents’ home, where she was doted on and loved. Jackie’s mother had married an abusive man, so and Jackie sought safety and comfort in her grandparents’ home. Her own father was largely absent from her life and she recalls that “even though I had a loving mother and grandparents, I always felt I was trying to fill that void in my life.” Perhaps it was an attempt to fill that void that led Jackie to begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. But experimentation quickly spiraled her into full blown abuse. By 1988, Jackie had begun free basing cocaine, which she says “brought me to my knees.” Jackie felt helpless and even had thoughts of taking her own life. Ironically, it was someone else’s suicide attempt that would finally halt her path of self-destruction.
On October 12, 1988, Jackie’s 16 year old daughter attempted suicide and ended up in the hospital. Jackie painfully remembers going to the hospital, feeling completely numb and dead inside. When the hospital social worker relayed her daughter’s words to Jackie, she finally realized the harm her addiction was causing to those closest to her. “She told the social worker that she wanted to die so I would get help and be a better mom to her brothers and sisters.” Those words shook Jackie to her core. The next day, she entered a detox program and started her lifelong journey of recovery. After finishing her detox program, Jackie began outpatient treatment at Hitchcock, followed by 90 days of inpatient treatment also through Hitchcock. Jackie remembers how supportive the counselors at Hitchcock were, teaching her structure and discipline while providing encouragement to fight her urges to use. “The staff at Hitchcock taught me about focusing on me, and my problems, the problems that had led me into being an addict.” The support she received throughout her treatment at Hitchcock was vital, but Jackie discovered that the support the center provides after treatment and a desire to stay clean are indispensible to staying on the path to recovery.
After twenty one years clean and sober, Jackie has much to be thankful for. She has been the Director of the East Cleveland Domestic Violence Center for 14 years, and met her husband of 13 years through recovery. Jackie’s life is centered on her faith in God and family, and she continues to share her message of recovery through 12-step meetings. “I am proud to say today that my life is an example for my children, and I have the joy of being with my family. This is only possible because of recovery.”