Shannon’s journey began when she was just 10 years old. Her mother was an alcoholic and she found that the best way to connect with her was by sharing a drink. Unlike her mother, Shannon became a functioning alcoholic. She graduated high school, went to college and soon after began a promising career in the aerospace industry.
But when she was 22 years old, her mother suffered a spine injury that required the use of powerful prescription pain medication. Suddenly the old tradition of sharing a drink with mom took on a new twist. One taste of prescription pain pills and Shannon lost all control.
Shannon tells us, “I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t get enough pills and my life slowly started to fall apart.”
For the next few years, Shannon and her mother would visit doctor after doctor across town, obtaining and filling prescriptions for her mother’s recurring sciatic nerve condition. But then one day, her mother had enough. She left town to get sober and Shannon was left in a lurch. Alone and without a way to obtain more pills, Shannon’s search for a new way to get high led her down a dark path.
“Words can’t describe how lucky I am to be alive. For the sake of my addiction, I put up with a man who broke my bones, blackened my face, held a knife to my throat and had me beg for my life… I stayed away from home for days, sometimes for weeks when he got in his moods, doing whatever I could to survive. While I was away, I was safe, but I was also separated from my supply. So I started to rob homes in the middle of the night. Then I got caught.”
Shannon was arrested and sentenced to three months in jail and a further four months in prison. When she was released, her parole officer directed her to the Changing Lives Center.
“I know now that was God knocking on my door. While I was at the Center I met some wonderful people and made some great friends but I didn’t want to surrender. I was a control freak. I didn’t think God could give me the right answers… so I left. That was a huge mistake. Within days I was back with my abuser, back on the streets, back on drugs, and back to robbing homes. I was more miserable than ever. I didn’t want to keep going. Thank God I got arrested when I did.”
Back in jail and severely depressed, Shannon was at a loss for what to do next. But two weeks before she was released, Shannon received some surprise visitors.
“I walk in thinking maybe it was my parole officer come to see me, and there they were, Mimi Page, the CLC intake coordinator, and Cierra Pena, one of the CLC graduates I had made friends with while I was in recovery. They were sitting there with big smiles on their faces. They said, ‘We want you to come back. If you want to make a change, you have to come back.’ I couldn’t believe they sought me out. Nobody called them; they came to me on their own time. It saved my life.”
Shannon returned to the Changing Lives Center and graduated from our women’s recovery program. But she didn’t stop there. She wanted to give back and has since completed our Servant Leadership Training program and is serving as one of our case managers. She’s currently finishing up the Ministry Training Program, our most rigorous discipleship program, with the goal of becoming one of our permanent staff.