April wanted to like herself. Finally.
That desperate desire — along with a chance phone call her boss made to Hoag on her behalf — were the first steps that set April on her brave, inspiring, and ultimately successful road to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction that began when she was just 13.
April’s journey to recovery and personal happiness began in March 1995. Today, she is thrilled to be celebrating 21 years of sobriety. April says she will be forever grateful for the kindness, compassion — and most important, the life-changing effectiveness — of Hoag Addiction Treatment Centers.
‘I’m So Thankful and Blessed’
“Hoag has a special place in my heart,” says April, who lives in Seal Beach. “I went back recently to see my old room there, where it all started more than 20 years ago. As I stood there, I realized how far I had come. When I first arrived at Hoag I told the doctor that I didn’t belong here – ‘Have you seen these other people? They are sick.’”
Smiling, April says, “But somehow I stayed and I’m so thankful and blessed that I did. I was humbled and grateful as I stood in my old room, because that was where my recovery truly began.
“It’s where it got real because I was doing it for me.”
April grew up in Hemet, the only child of alcoholic parents. She tried her first drink at 13 with friends; her father would regularly give her sips of his beers. She took an instant liking to alcohol, and that was just the beginning of her harrowing descent into alcoholism and drug addiction.
One Drink, and ‘I Was Off and Running’
“Once I had my first drink I was off and running. I realized I could escape,” she says. “Next, I tried pot and then cocaine. I was a good student until my sophomore year of high school. By then I was a daily drinker.”
April’s parents divorced when she was 16, and she recalls being “thrilled” because her mother began drinking and became too busy to supervisor her. (April’s mother is celebrating her 28th year of sobriety.)
‘It’s a Miracle I Didn’t Die’
April’s downward spiral accelerated. At 17, she dropped out of school and began doing hard drugs. “I was shooting up. It’s a miracle I didn’t die,” she says. “I was 80 pounds, a bag of bones. My skin was gray.”
For a while she worked as a grocer and eventually was fired after missing two consecutive days of work. Her mother intervened and enrolled April in an addiction treatment program when she was 20. Her sobriety was short-lived, however: She moved to Orange County and started hanging out with an old “party buddy” of hers, and they ended up getting married.
“We had a ton of fun partying, and I slipped back into doing pot and drinking. I was a blackout drinker but I desperately tried to manage and control my drinking so I wouldn’t have to give it up,” says April, who is no longer married.
But April knew she couldn’t continue on this path.
‘So Tired of Not Liking Myself’
“I was working as an executive assistant at a fitness club and one day I was at work and was so tired of not liking myself. I couldn’t do it anymore,” she recalls. “I went to an AA meeting at noon on a Wednesday, and the next day I met with my boss and told her I had a problem. She had no clue.
“My boss picked up the phone and called several places – one of them was Hoag. She liked the first person she spoke to at Hoag and so I decided to check myself in. That was Friday, March 10, 1995. I haven’t had a drink, done cocaine, meth, anything, since 1995.”
The moment she arrived at Hoag, April knew she was at a turning point in her life.
“I just wanted to feel good. I didn’t like me. I was tired of living that way,” she says. “I’m so grateful for my life today.”
‘It was Very Healing and Very Painful at the Same Time’
April says the people at Hoag were incredibly supportive and compassionate — and highly skilled in helping people like her return to sobriety. “I especially loved the family week. I attended with my mom. It was very healing and very painful at the same time.”
When asked what the biggest obstacle was during her the early days of her recovery, April quietly says, “Fear. I was scared that I would go and drink again. I know I’m an alcoholic and I tried to do it by myself but I finally realized I couldn’t do it alone. It’s been a long journey, and the most important thing through the recovery process is that I’ve become my own friend.”
‘I’m Having Way More Fun Being Sober’
April says what inspires her most to stay sober is “the way I feel on the inside. I love recovery. I’m having way more fun being sober than I ever did when I was partying. That is what inspires me to stay sober.”
These days, April is using her hard-won life’s lessons to help others struggling with addiction. “The most important thing I tell people is that you don’t have to do it alone. You must get involved and get connected,” she says. “You need to find a support group and do your part. You must do the work. The proof is in the pudding — don’t give up.”
April says the Hoag Addiction Treatment Centers are so effective because they not only provide outstanding professional help, but also offer a strong alumni network that serves as a critical support system for participants long after they complete the program.
As she stood in her old room at Hoag recently and recalled the love and support she received there, April says she experienced a single, powerful emotion: “I was overwhelmed with gratitude.”