Melanie never knew her father and her mother had problems related to substance use. When she was 18 months old, she was taken away from her mother. She was brought to a foster home in a Milwaukee suburb on Christmas Eve. Her foster parents called her their “Christmas Angel.” When she was 5, Melanie was adopted by this family. Her adoptive parents were financially stable and secure. However, home life was chaotic. There were sometimes as many as ten kids in the home, kids who were survivors of trauma and abuse. Their parents often left the older kids to take care of Melanie and the other younger kids. She had some really traumatic experiences when her parents were away. The older kids came up with some awful things to do to her.
When she was 10, she had a low self-esteem and some mental health issues. Melanie started suffering from bad migraines. She was prescribed Percocet. When she took her pain medication, the chaotic life around her didn’t seem so bad – things seemed to calm down. She was later prescribed other pain medications for migraines.
When she was 18, she left home and not on good terms. She went to live with her boyfriend. They didn’t really know each other, but she had no other place to go.
Their relationship was very abusive. His father was an alcoholic and was also abusive. She started using opiates without a prescription. She got pregnant with twins. She lost one due to a miscarriage. Her water broke at 7 months. The baby was breech and the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. As a result she had an emergency C-section. Her daughter was born two months early and weighed only 2 lbs. She had no support from her adoptive parents. Her daughter spent two months in the NICU. They were sent home without a sleep apnea monitor. Her daughter was home for three months before she passed away. The doctors aren’t sure why, but suspect SIDS.
Melanie and her boyfriend’s tumultuous relationship continued. They welcomed another baby, who is now 19 years old. Melanie would again have a C-section and again be prescribed strong medications to cope with the pain. This time though, there was a complication with her anesthesia and she developed spinal migraines, for which she was prescribed long-term opiates.
Over the next few years, Melanie had three other miscarriages. She and her boyfriend got married. It didn’t go well. She had many suicide attempts. After he tried to kill her she had to get a restraining order against him. When they split Melanie moved in with her sister. Melanie later found out that her sister also had a really bad drug problem. Melanie started using cocaine and heroin.
She went on methadone to try to get clean. She was clean on it for almost three and a half years. She found out that she was pregnant shortly after she and her abusive boyfriend broke up. She gave birth to a healthy son, who is now 4. Having no place to go, she went to live with her ex-boyfriend and his family. She again had medications from her C-section, but this time she started buying additional pills. She later moved to Joy House, a transitional living facility, a few years later. They had to call 911 because she passed out after mixing prescription medications and opiates. Her son was removed from her care while she was in the hospital.
That’s when she came to Meta House. She was in Outpatient treatment for about a month. She transferred to Residential treatment in March 2014, where she stayed for eight months. We are happy to report that Melanie and her son were reunified in Fall of 2014. She says “Meta House gave me a good foundation to get my son back.” They now live in Meta Housing.
Her daughter lives with her boyfriend and attends college. She got a significant amount of scholarship money to study Nursing and she plans to go to grad school for Anesthesiology.
Melanie is successfully progressing through Outpatient treatment. She plans to start looking for a job once she’s a bit further along in treatment. She’s interested in getting certified to be a Peer Support and helping teenagers. She attend outside meetings and goes to church every Sunday, which has always been important to her.
She says, “I received a lot of great services at Meta House. Seeking Safety taught me coping skills and grounding techniques. I learned about the effect PTSD has on your addiction. The Child and Family team gave me a good foundation to get my son back and taught me how to nurture him. I also quit smoking while I was in residential treatment. I have been smoke-free for almost a year now. I also graduated from Family Drug Treatment Court last month with the help of Meta House. I celebrated one year of sobriety today.”