25 Jun The Faces of Hitchcock: Liz Black-Sluss
With nearly two years of sobriety under her belt, Liz is enthusiastic about her future and grateful to Hitchcock Center for Women for supporting her as she works to stay clean and sober.
Tell us about yourself and your background with addiction.
I am 41 years old and have two children and a grandchild. I started using drugs recreationally at a young age but didn’t become a full blown addict until I was an adult.
My mom and dad divorced when I was 2. My mom took me to another state and hid me for 10 years. She was mentally ill and wouldn’t get help. I grew up in a very abusive environment. I had a very rough childhood up until the age of 12 when my dad got custody of me. I never fit in, didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. When I moved in with my dad, I became an overachiever and tried to overcompensate. I did sports, I did well in school. I got accepted into good colleges but decided to take a year off from school and moved in with my boyfriend after high school. I ended up pregnant with my oldest daughter. I had always used pot, but didn’t get into heavy drugs until after my daughter was born and my ex and I used drugs together, which turned into many years of drug and alcohol abuse.
After a series of abusive relationships, out of state moves, and challenges with her growing addiction, Liz found herself back in Ohio.
I went to treatment in 2007 at Windsor Hospital in Chagrin and was there 21 days. My insurance coverage ended, and I ended up going back to a friend’s house. I got a job, got a duplex, my kids had a home. I started going to A.A. I relapsed for about 2 months but went back to A.A., found a sponsor and was working the program. 3 years go by and I was single and sober. I began dating a “nice guy” and ended up moving in with him. I was telling myself that he was a good guy and he was only partying when I wasn’t around. As soon as we moved in with him, I realize how much he is drinking and smoking pot and realize that he isn’t supportive of me going to meetings. So I stop going to meetings, I didn’t tell my sponsor the truth. I started to isolate myself and I relapsed. I was trying to make the best out of it and pretend nothing is wrong. He then got abusive, and the next time he tried to hit me, I hit back. He called the cops on me, and then he got arrested. I was back in a downward spiral of addiction.
Several stints in jail later, Liz is out of jail but is in bad shape; using heroin, alcohol, pills. She is put on Suboxone (the drug used to help heroin addicts detox) but is still using other drugs. At her breaking point, she found Hitchcock Center for Women.
In October 2016, I was at a breaking point. I was depressed and addicted. I was taking pills to sleep. My first sponsor, Charli, has always been there for me and never abandoned me, no matter what I have done. I called her and told her I needed help. She dropped everything she was doing and picked me up and took me to Southwest hospital. I didn’t have insurance, so they kept me a few days and then sent me to Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare, where they detoxed me off of Suboxone. It was the worst I have ever felt. I thought about killing myself because I had never felt so bad. The nurse that was taking care of me was 11 years sober. She started talking about the program (A.A.) to me. She helped me find resources to get treatment. She convinced me that I needed treatment and that I had to the do the recovery myself.
The next day I called Hitchcock. Sheila answered the phone, and I told her I needed help. She told me to come Monday morning. I started sobbing. Northcoast gave me a taxi to Hitchcock. I had one cigarette left and did my intake with Sheila. I did over 100 days on the residential side. I have always been co-dependent, and this was the first time I had time to focus on myself and fixing myself.
How has this treatment been different for you?
The way Hitchcock does it on top of the fact that I was fully ready to get clean. I believe in my heart that 21 days was not enough the first time. The first 30 days are the hardest-you are just getting started the first 30 days. You don’t start to absorb anything until you are about 40 days in. What got me with Hitchcock was my counselors, the staff, and the techs. The people care there. They treat you like a person. The people that work in the kitchen treat you with care and love. They love you until you can love yourself. They are patient with you. They expect you to be a mess and they meet you where you are at. They don’t belittle you. The mission-where the healing begins. It is true.
What advice would you give to a woman that is struggling with addiction and isn’t sure where to turn?
Hitchcock gives you the tools and surround you with loving and caring support. In the darkest of the dark, there is a light and if you go towards it, you can find a life that is amazing, and you didn’t know existed. I walked from the dark place of addiction into this beautiful paradise of sobriety.