Tamnika J.’s journey from addiction to recovery is not typical. She was a comparatively privileged child, growing up in an intact middle-class family.
“I had a foundation for success before I even decided to begin my recovery,” Tamnika says. “It was my own bad decisions that led me to addiction.” When Tamnika was 32, she began using crack cocaine and became consumed by desire for the drug. Her life fell apart, she lost custody of her daughter and lost the trust of her family.”
“It was so satisfying earning my college degree just on the heels of my recovery.”
After six years of drug use, she enrolled in a six-month program with the Harbel Community Organization’s Prevention and Recovery Center—an outpatient substance abuse prevention and treatment center. “I liked the structure. I think the outpatient process is a very good thing,” Tamnika says. “The structure is very open so it allows people in recovery to work at the same time. Their group sessions also help people tell their stories and gain a different perspective.”
Tamnika kept focused throughout her recovery process, maintaining a part-time job at which she earned multiple honors and promotions. The more time she stayed clean, the clearer her mind became. After she graduated from the recovery program, Tamnika quickly set her sights on bigger goals.
“It was so satisfying earning my college degree just on the heels of my recovery,” says Tamnika. “And all the while I was raising my 12-year-old-daughter, who I had just gotten custody of again. She’s so proud of me now and I try to use my mistakes to teach her that you might not always make the best decisions, but you have to live with them and learn from them.”
Tamnika’s recovery wasn’t easy, but with the support of her family and the programs at Harbel, Tamnika was able to break her addiction.
“My parents were amazing,” Tamnika says.” “They took care of my daughter when I lost custody and they invited me back into their home when they didn’t have to.”
Now, after four drug-free years, Tamnika is working as a peer recovery advocate at the Academy of Success in West Baltimore She wants to get back to a place where she’s completely self-sufficient and fully focused on helping people in recovery of all ages.
“I’m going back to school, just trying to stay humble and compassionate,” Tamnika says. “I think I have a gift, for whatever reason. People young and old tend to gravitate toward me and we develop relationships very easily. I’m just happy that I’m able to be the person to set the example.”