PRISM helps woman get her life back on track after substance use issues

Michelle thought she had her drinking under control until she rear-ended a vehicle with her 5-year-old son in the car.

It was 10:30 a.m. and Michelle already had drank a half pint of alcohol.

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The accident was a turning point for the Oakland County woman who went from being a high school student active in Students Against Drunk Driving to an adult needing help for her addiction.

“It was rock bottom for me,” she said. “When I got home my son said ‘Mommy, I’m so sorry we got in an accident.’ It’s not your fault, I told him. He thought somehow he caused the accident.”

Luckily neither were injured but Michelle was taken to jail, sentenced to 18 months’ probation and Alcohol Anonymous three times per week. Knowing she needed to make a change in her life, on her own she also sought out PRISM (Project Recovery Intensive Services for Mothers), an intensive substance use disorder program offered by Day One that focuses on the unique needs of mothers in recovery.

“I knew I couldn’t fix it on my own,” Michelle said firmly. “I can’t drink. If I have one, one will not be one. I’m an addict. That’s the way I have to think. I don’t trust myself.”

The woman grew up with relatives who were alcoholics and two who died from it. She describes her addiction as one that has been cyclical with a four-year stretch of being sober.

Michelle began spending her mornings drinking again when she felt pressured to live up to being a “Super Momma.” Friends and relatives marveled at how she managed to care for four children as a nanny, take care of her son, and handle other household duties. Michelle, though, didn’t feel like a Super Momma at all. She was stressed out and overwhelmed, feeling pressured to be the perfect person.

Through PRISM, Michelle found the parenting and coping sessions the most helpful and believes her life would be very different if she hadn’t sought help from Day One.

“I probably would be in a shelter,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the support of family and wouldn’t have my son.”

So what advice does she have for those struggling with alcohol issues?

“Have an open mind and ask for help,” she said. “You might think you are weak by asking but you are strong by admitting. I’m stronger than I was and definitely in a better physical shape health wise. I’m getting better, but I’m not quite there yet. And, I’m getting to be the mom I used to be.”