Helping Andrea Help Herself

The Short Version

My very dear friend's daughter, Andrea (that's her on the left), has made the decision to commit herself to a long-term rehabilitation facility for her alcohol addiction.  This has all happened very quickly after a terrifying day during which we thought we were going to lose her.  She is currently being medically detoxed, and there is a bed waiting for her at a long-term rehabilitation facility.  We need to act quickly, while a place is being held for her.  Long-term treatment is expensive, and the upfront costs are prohibitive for her family. They need help. 

Andrea will not have direct access to any of the money raised here.  It will be used on her behalf to pay for her recovery expenses.

The Long Version

Andrea's story is hers to tell.  I can't tell you everything about her journey and her struggles.  I can't really even tell you about her pain, though she's shared quite a lot of it with me.  But no one lives in a bubble.  Just like the rest of us,  her story affects the stories of others.  So I can tell you her story, as I've seen it.

The picture on this campaign is about eight years old.  Andrea is on the left, and her little sister, CJ, is on the right.  CJ is almost ten now, and I don't think that Andrea has truly been happy like she was in that picture, since.

Andrea's struggle with alcohol probably started about nine years ago.  No one really knows for sure because she was secretive, of course.  I'm not sure that SHE really even knows when she started to lose control.  But her alcohol abuse can be chronicled by a handful of major events that do have a definitive timeline. 

The First Time Andrea Should Have Died

The first was seven years ago.  She was (under age) in a car accident, driving after drinking too much.  It was an accident that she shouldn't have survived.  She has had facial reconstructive surgery since.  She has a metal plate in the left side of her face to remember it by.  Everyone thought that would be her wake-up call, but it wasn't.

Her accident affected her cognitive abilities in some ways, most notably affecting her memory.  She has lingering physical pain in her arms and legs.  But her self-esteem took the biggest blow.  She compensated for that by drinking.  After her accident, she quickly went through several jobs, never able to keep one long because she'd get drunk and skip work regularly.

I expect that many of the details of Andrea's addiction are the same as every other alcoholic's.  I don't want to belabor the point.  After a couple of rough years at home in California, she moved to Wisconsin to be near other family, in the hope of starting over and doing better.  For the next several years, nothing changed but her address.  She lost jobs, went from paying her own way to staying with one family member or friend and then the next.  She has had countless friends and family members give up on her and write her off.

When Andrea ran out of friends and family members to stay with a couple of years ago, she lived with me for a while.  Until then, I didn't realize just how serious her addiction had become.  She drank to excess every day.  She hid bottles, blacked out, skipped work, lost jobs, damaged furniture, and hurt herself in the process. When I told her that one weekly AA meeting was a requirement to continue staying with me, she moved on to the next of her mom's willing friends.

Eventually, she ran out of options in Wisconsin and moved back to California to stay with her uncle, still thinking that location was her key to a happy life.  But again, nothing changed.

Last winter, she came back here for a visit.  She seemed to be doing better for the first few days, but a drink on New Year's Eve turned into several days of binge drinking--blackouts, drunk driving a "borrowed" car, missed visiting time with her mom and little sister. And on her trip home, she got so drunk during her layover that she missed her connecting flight and spent two blacked out days in the airport.  She spent all of her savings, and was so far gone that she didn't even realize that the time had passed.  We couldn't reach her, airport security couldn't find her, and it seemed possible that she'd just stay there, drunk on the streets, and then be gone.  We thought for sure that this would be her wake-up call.  But it wasn't. 

It's been nearly a year since that trip.  She's been hospitalized several times because of her drinking.  Three days ago, she was discharged after a two-day stay in the hospital with alcoholic pancreatitis and a host of other alcohol-related health complications.

I Thought I Was Witnessing The End

Two days ago, Andrea called me. And it was the most terrifying phone call I've ever gotten. I couldn't understand a word she said. She was crying and hyperventilating, mumbling and stuttering. She couldn't even say my name. I called the police to her house. I listened as they pounded on her door, and she gurgled on the phone. I screamed at her to open her door, but she couldn't. Her mom was there with me, listening helplessly to what she was sure were her daughter's last moments.

The police eventually got in. She hadn't had anything to drink since the hospital, and she was experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms. After a day of treatment in the Emergency Room, she was transferred to a detox facility where she is being medically detoxed. We hope that this is her wake-up call. So far, it seems that it is.

Andrea Took Responsibility

I've been witness to Andrea's alcohol addition for years now. She has always had reasons that she drank. She has always had someone (or ten someones) to blame for her drinking. Today, for the first time, she told me it was her fault. She said she is tired of it. She's ready for a change. And she asked for help.

SHE made the call to a program that helps addicts find the right treatment program. SHE filled out the application and wrote a personal statement saying why long-term treatment is important for her. As she was detoxing, SHE sold her television, her X-box, her speakers. SHE took responsibilty for her addiction. SHE decided that it is time.

I'm the one that she's been talking to as she's made these decisions today. That's how I know that she's serious. Because I'm the one who told her that she couldn't stay if she didn't get help. And I'm the one that she's hated for that, for years. I'm the last person that she would call if she wasn't serious.

After all of the arrangements were made, Andrea talked to her mom. Her mom told her that she was proud of her. And Andrea said that she's proud of herself (SUCH a new feeling for her!) And she cried. Because she is happy. She's excited to become the girl in that picture again. And the little girl in the picture with her (who is nearly ten years old now) cried too. Because it's been such a long time, and she can't wait until her sister can start being her sister again.

When Hope Makes It Hard To Breathe

As I type this story of Andrea's addiction as I've experienced it, I can barely breathe. Not for the reasons that that has happened before--because we've known that she's slowly (or not so slowly) killing herself, but because I am so hopeful that now she is ready to start healing herself.

And I'm hopeful that we'll find a few people who are willing to help us help her with that. Long-term rehabilitation facilities are expensive. The upfront costs of her treatment, and the expense of getting her quickly across the country to the facility while there's a place being held for her, are prohibitive for her family. We have to act quickly, while there's a place holding space for her. While she's safely detoxed (a requirement for acceptance into this treatment facility). And while she's eager to find her way back to her family, and to herself. We've pulled some of what she needs together. I'm hoping that you'll help us with the rest.

Andrea will not have direct access to any of the money raised here.  It will be used on her behalf to pay for her recovery expenses.

Donations

  • Shannon Cox 
    • $100 
    • 5 d
  • Pam Rickard 
    • $50 
    • 5 d
  • Curtis Pereau 
    • $200 
    • 7 d
  • Yvonne Gern 
    • $300 
    • 7 d

Organizer

Molly Ogren 
Organizer
Morrisonville, WI
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