Note: The following are the remarks of Andrea Baker delivered at the signing ceremony for HB 2131, the corrections reform bill authored by House Speaker Kris Steele and Sen. Patrick Anderson. For more on the Women in Recovery program, read this guest blog post by Amy Santee.
Good afternoon, my name is Andrea Baker. I am 39 years old and I am in recovery from 23 years of addiction to methamphetamine and alcohol, among other things.
While in addiction I lost everything. I never thought I was worth anything more than the addict life I was living. Filled with despair, crippled by fear I had no hope for my future. Feeling trapped and not equipped to handle what was happening in my life, I thought I would always be an addict. I accepted that’s just who I was. As a result, I neglected my family and my responsibilities.
My parents raised my daughter from the time she was 3 years old. I missed her 1st day of kindergarten, her graduation from high school and everything in between. On April 8, 2009 I went to jail facing two charges of endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine. Being told I was looking at 15 years in prison, I thought it was the end of my life but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It opened the door for me to enter the Women In Recovery program.
Women in Recovery has forever changed my life. The structure, accountability, groups, therapy, and new life skills that I learned was exactly what I needed.
The program has helped me to change my whole thought process. From how I view the world to how I view myself. The program has taught me so much. I now recognize and understand what I am feeling. When problems occur I am able to process the situation and figure out the solutions on my own. If I can’t figure out what to do, I am not afraid to ask for help.
The program has taught me how to recognize relapse thinking and when to set healthy boundaries for myself. I am making healthy choices for my life and my recovery.
The program has shown me what a positive and trusting relationship is. I now have meaningful and supportive friendships. My family has been restored and we are closer than we ever have been. On November 13, 2010 I was able to attend my daughter’s wedding. Fully present, sober, and supportive on this joyous family occasion. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The program has shown me the importance of giving back to the community. I volunteer my time and help twice a week. I have 2 jobs and am planning on going to college to become a therapist to help others on their road to recovery.
I have goals. I trust and believe in myself. I have self-confidence. My life has meaning and I have purpose. I now know there is life after addiction.
I thank God for Women in Recovery and my freedom everyday. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. It has saved my life.
One thing I have learned that is very valuable to my recovery is that I know life is worth living and I am worth living my life. I just graduated the program and I have been sober for two years, which is the longest I have been sober since I was 14 years old.
I am the woman I always wanted to be and so much more.
None of these accomplishments would’ve been possible had I been in prison. I am a tax paying citizen, a healthy member of society, mother, daughter, volunteer, employee, active in my church and recovery program. I have a car, a bank account, two jobs, and I am an entirely different parent.
I want to thank the Governor, and House Speaker Steele, Legislative members, Family and Children Services, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and others on behalf of myself and many others who like me, need treatment, support and an opportunity to change.
Photo courtesy of Jean Warner, Oklahoma Women’s Network