A mother of two, Karen went from being a great mom to being an absent mom. “I had to tell my kids that I was taking a grown-up time out,” she said. “My fourth drunk driving arrest landed me in jail. That’s when the journey began. Phoenix Hall provided a safe place for me to make the changes I needed to make. It was a twenty-eight-day life-transforming experience.” Today, Karen works for the State of Michigan helping others rebuild and prepare for job opportunities. Karen’s once probation officer is now her coworker, and she’s become a licensed facilitator, teaching parenting classes. Most importantly, she’s no longer an absent parent.

With two small children at home, Karen felt only bitterness while sitting in jail. In her mind she replayed the moment that had brought her to there. She thought over all the things she could’ve done differently. And she prayed—a lot. Then she had an epiphany: she just couldn’t drink. “All of the sudden I got scared. I realized I needed help.”

Once surrounded by the staff at Phoenix Hall women’s residential program, Karen realized that over the years, she had become emotionally numb. It was a crippling reality she hadn’t even realized until the therapists at ATS helped her become aware. Karen recalls that it was while staying at Phoenix Hall, feeling so safe, that she began to transform.

Like so many, Karen grew up in a dysfunctional setting. What was different about the drinking that her parent’s did was that it wasn’t overt. Instead, they’d wait until she and her siblings went to bed. Away from the watchful eyes of their children, her parents would drink. Through counseling Karen was able to identify that her mind became hard-wired during those young, formative years, programmed to believe alcohol was an acceptable coping tool. During those years she wasn’t taught how to handle problems or even how to communicate her feelings. With no real guidance, except what was inadvertently offered by way of example, things snowballed. Her relationship with her mother grew more estranged with every year. And with no healthy way to communicate, things grew combustible. Eventually, Karen landed in various military academies.

When Karen had her first child, her desire to be a healthy mother took root. Even though her desire grew deep from within her, she couldn’t overcome all that had been hard-wired in her, at least not alone. Once Karen connected with those in the women’s residential program at ATS, she discovered she wasn’t alone, and her roots grew stronger. Today those roots have fostered branches that reach into the community. And no longer is Karen an absent mom.