Courtney was born at Doctor’s Medical Center on June 29, 1992 to a methamphetamine addicted mother. As a child, she hardly went to school because she didn’t have clean clothes or her mom didn’t wake her up. She was often embarrassed because she was dirty or smelled like cigarette smoke. Courtney recalls, “I was teased at school because of my appearance. I didn’t have nice clothes like the other kids. I would often sit at school and pray that someone would take me out of that mess.”
Courtney tried drugs for the first time with her mom. She was 10 years old. Eventually, her mom stopped giving her drugs so Courtney began to steal them. When her mother found out, Courtney was forced out of her home and onto the streets. She was 11 years old.
Living on the streets meant Courtney was the victim of mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. By the age of 14, she was using a half ounce of methamphetamine daily. At the age of 16, Courtney found out she was pregnant. Despite her continued drug use, her daughter was born healthy in March 2008. “I couldn’t believe she was mine,” recalled Courtney. “She weighed 7lbs, 11ounces and was 21 inches long. It was a miracle she was perfectly healthy.”
Courtney’s drug use didn’t stop with the birth of her child. It wasn’t long before Courtney lost custody of her daughter and found herself in jail for the first time. Shortly after that incident she was instructed to go to First Step, a drug and alcohol treatment program for pregnant and parenting women. Walking into First Step for the first time was not easy for Courtney. Although she was quick to develop relationships with staff and find friends, she admits that it wasn’t until she relapsed for the first time that she truly understood what First Step could help her do for herself.
Through the many groups, individual counseling, parenting classes and other support services offered by First Step, Courtney feels like she found herself for the first time. She believes the program and staff helped her learn about who she is: her strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly she believes, she learned the value in being honest. Honest with herself and with the program.
Once Courtney completed the First Step program, there was no guarantee that she would regain custody of her daughter. That didn’t stop Courtney from taking in all the parenting knowledge she could. Through parenting classes and coaches, Courtney feels like First Step didn’t just teach her the skills she needed to parent effectively but they showed her exactly how to use them. On being a mom Courtney shared, “It’s good. It’s difficult sometimes but it sure is a lot better than not having her. There is no explaining how bad it felt not to have her.”
When asked what she would tell a woman considering the First Step Program Courtney shared, “Do it. Go through the program. Be honest and don’t give up.” Courtney continues to take advantage of aftercare services provided by First Step and is thankful she can go and see women who graduated 3 and 4 years ago. Courtney said, “It just shows you that it works.”