Getting a Second Chance at Life


“Karen”* was a typical mother of four kids whose world revolved around caring for her family. But when the Perkins Township resident suddenly found herself an empty nester at age 45, she looked for ways to fill that void.

“I tried to fill that hole with everything,” the now 57-year-old said. “That included shopping, drinking, some drugs…I never really got it filled up.”

“Karen” said that she began to find comfort in having a glass of wine. Things began to spiral when she had to increase the amount she was drinking.

“I realized it was a problem when it kept calling to me,” she said. “At first one glass was ok; then it got to where I had to drink the whole bottle.”

Her alcoholism eventually led her to seek treatment at Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services of Erie County.

“I couldn’t seem to do it on my own,” “Karen” said of trying to get sober.

“Karen” was put on Vivitrol, part of the medication-assisted therapy program at Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services. Vivitrol is a once-monthly medication that blocks the signals to the brain’s rewards system that create a feeling of pleasure which can lead to addiction. Vivitrol is used in combination with intensive outpatient therapy.

“Vivitrol puts me on pause when my mind wants to drink,” “Karen” said. “Now I can think it through and I don’t get the same effect.”

“Karen” has been taking Vivitrol since January and said she’s not ready to give it up yet.

“Now if I see a commercial with a couple having wine, I can just smash the idea and think ‘it’s not for me’ instead of romanticizing it,” she said.

“Karen” said she tries to keep a well-rounded program along with the Vivitrol, including attending church and having a sponsor and accountability partners. Her family, including her husband of 28 years, is all on board with her recovery. She enjoys spending time at the pool and with her two grandkids who live in the Central Ohio area.


vivitrol and suboxone

Another form of medication-assisted therapy now being offered by Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services is Suboxone, an oral medication used to help curve the cravings of opioids.

Tina, a 45-year-old Sandusky resident, has been an opioid addict for almost 10 years. Her addiction began when she was given Vicodin after a knee injury. When she wasn’t able to get anymore pills, she switched to snorting heroin because she found it was cheaper.

“I was clueless about it,” Tina said of the effects of heroin.

Those effects proved to be life changing. She and her husband, who was also an addict, lost custody of their two children as well as two storage units full of items and at one point, they were homeless.

“I was so tired of being sick and not having anything,” Tina said. “I thought there had to be something better.”

The biggest factor in Tina wanting to seek recovery came in May when she and her husband went on a bender for her birthday. They were in Lorain when her husband who was driving, started to veer off the road after using heroin, eventually crashing into the yard of a registered nurse. Both Tina and her husband had overdosed and had died.

Fortunately first responders arrived and were able to administer Narcan to revive both Tina and her husband.

“I realized I couldn’t do this no more,” Tina said. “I realized I needed help – more than just going to meetings.”

She was already coming to Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services of Erie County for mental health treatment and hid the fact that she had an addiction to heroin. She said that after the incident in Lorain, she was looking forward to her next appointment so she could talk to her doctor.

Tina was prescribed Suboxone. Unlike Vivitrol, someone does not have to be off the drugs or alcohol for 7-10 days – Suboxone can begin immediately. She takes it two times a day, every 12 hours. Her husband is also in recovery and taking Suboxone.

“I’m thankful I got a second chance at life,” she said. “Now I’m able to get through the day without having cravings.”

Tina said that using medication-assisted therapy has given her life back.

“I can enjoy regular, daily activities,” she said. “When I was an addict, I couldn’t do anything ‘til I got that drug. Now I can get up at a decent time and drink coffee. This has given me hope and faith back in myself – I am worth it.”

Find more information on medication assisted therapy from Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services today.

*Name changed to protect identity