The first time Latanya asked for help was after nearly being killed in a hotel room by a married man who was going to pay her for sex so that she could afford more cocaine. She couldn’t go through with her end of the bargain, and, during the altercation she prayed to God to help her get out of the situation. Latanya managed to escape, ran down the street and flagged down the nearest police officer. “It was the first time I remember ever asking for help,” she relates.
Latanya did not come from a bad family. The baby out of 6 children, her mother was a teacher and her father a correctional officer. She grew up with discipline and support, graduated high school, and moved out on her own. She remembers distinctly her mom’s warning about her new neighbor. “She said ‘I don’t know what it is about that girl, but I don’t like her,’” Latanya recalls, “What my mother sensed was that this girl was an addict.” One day Latanya’s neighbor came over for a visit. Latanya left the room for a moment and came back to see drug paraphernalia on her coffee table. She tried cocaine for the first time that night and became addicted. “I had no idea what cocaine was or even what it looked like,” she states, “I became addicted because I was naïve.”
This started a downward spiral in Latanya’s life. She lost touch with her friends because she didn’t want them to know she was using drugs. When she got paid she would take half of her money to her mother, who was taking care of her children, and she spent the other half on cocaine. “I had 2 children, a boy and a girl, who were living with my mother because I couldn’t take care of them. One night, I asked my mother for extra money and she told me to come over. When I arrived she gave me the money, but had my son hand it to me. That hit me so hard, but I was so numb I couldn’t even cry.”
In the grips of addiction Latanya turned to stealing and prostitution to pay for drugs. She was raped and beaten. It wasn’t until she almost lost her life in a hotel room that she found the strength and courage to ask for help.
Latanya came to Meta House 18 years ago, and never returned to her life of using drugs. Her first step toward recovery was overcoming the fear that she would fail. “My counselor has me write a goodbye letter to Cocaine,” Latanya says, “I wrote it and it sat in my closet for two weeks. One day I had enough and I threw it away. I realized my addiction was selfish and that I wanted to change.”
The next step toward recovery, Latanya relates, was making amends and rebuilding relationships with those she had hurt. Her mother brought her children for visits while Latanya was in treatment at Meta House. “When I look back at my clean time and the progress I was making with my children,” Latanya says, “I would feel more confident. I didn’t feel alone anymore because I was rebuilding relationships with my family and creating new ones with the other women at Meta House.”
Today Latanya celebrates nearly 19 years in recovery. She earned a certificate in cosmetology and operated her own salon for several years. Her son graduated from college and her daughter is enrolled in university. Latanya has four grandchildren whom she dotes on as much as she can. Latanya recently sold her salon, and will start college in the fall to embark on a new career in social work. “I waited a long time to get to this place,” Latanya states, “I want to be an example for women and a mentor to them. They need to know there is life after addiction.” Back to Get Inspired…