31 Stories, 31 Days: Grace Garcia
Believe it or not, I thank God I was in jail. It’s what turned my life of drinking, drugging, and partying into one filled with love and purpose. In 2011, I was arrested off the street and sentenced to six months in jail. Upon my release, I attended rehab until I felt I was ready to transition back into the real world.
I wasn’t ready, though. I found myself in an abusive relationship filled with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. The coping skills and treatment I’d gained while in rehab went out the window. I was sick and tired of my life, and I knew I was spiraling back down a path that had a dead end. I prayed for a sign to turn my life around.
A few weeks later, I was at party that was busted by the police for drugs and alcohol and received a one-year sentence from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In the process, I lost my son and my family. I was forced to see how my addictions, combined with my mental health conditions, had until that point run my life. On the street, I acted as though I didn’t care, but during my sentence it dawned on me: this was not where I wanted to be, behind bars while my son grew up without me.
When I was released, I was determined to beat my addictions. My probation required attendance at drug court for one and half years. It’s a very intensive outpatient program that requires regular drug testing to keep people honest and motivated to recover. There are four phases. In the first phase, you go to court and during the first 90 days complete intense one-on-one counseling every week. During phase two, you attend counseling every other week; in phase three, you go to counseling every month; and at phase four, you “graduate.” I worked with a different counselor during each phase and each one was there for me throughout the entire process.
In fact, I’m still seeing my drug court counselor, Stephanie, because I’m technically still on probation. We meet once a month and will do so until we can both agree that I’m at a place in my recovery where I can live sober. However, I know I’m going to continue counseling after my probation period ends.
Today, I’m going on three years sober. I have my own house, and my son and family are back in my life and have been so supportive of me. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be. I’m engaged, too. My life has been good. Now I have plans to become a recovery coach. I want to give back to a community that helped me when I needed it most.
Grace Garcia lives with anxiety and depression. She is a resident of Bexar County, TX and a graduate of the county’s drug court.
This profile is part of a series that will publish 31 stories in 31 days during Mental Health Month. See how NAMI is working with others on The Stepping Up Initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails.