'There's hope:' New tool helps families with loved ones struggling with addiction

New tool helps families with loved ones struggling with addiction. (MGN)

A treatment center on the Treasure Coast has created a program to help people struggling with addiction who may not even want help.

Lauren Schreck struggled with alcohol and drugs for 10 years and is now almost seven years sober.

She grew up in a small, religious town in New Jersey.

"Being homosexual in that environment was confusing," Schreck said. "I knew one person that was gay growing up and it was the person in the mirror."

Schreck said she never felt like she could live up to her parents' expectations.

"I was never gonna have the husband, the white picket fence, the house to give them that and that’s what they wanted from me, so there was a lot of self hatred because I couldn’t be what they wanted," she said.

That's when she turned to drugs and alcohol. She started drinking when she was just 12 years old and then started taking prescription pills.

"I thought it was what normal high school kids did but my party didn’t stop when everyone else went to bed and it died down," Schreck said. "I thought if this felt so good on a Friday, Saturday night It probably feels just as good Monday through Friday."

Later on, Schreck got hooked on heroin.

"The obsession with how would I get that next one? What do I have to sell? Who do I have to hurt? What do I physically have to do to get that next one? Normal people don't understand," she said. "They don’t understand the obsession that comes with it and the compulsion to keep using."

Schreck said that's when things really went downhill.

"I was close to death for a long time," she said.

Schreck was arrested several times, went to 13 different treatment centers and even overdosed seven times.

"Drug addiction is a disease. I can't help it. These are two personality traits that I can't help. I don't get to choose whether or not I'm a homosexual or whether I'm a drug addict. I was born this way," she said.

But she said her family never gave up on her. She finally became sober after moving to Florida and going to Ambrosia Treatment Center.

"That treatment center let me know it's okay to be me," she said.

"We better be open and talk to folks and make them feel safe or we’re doing a disservice," said Jerry Haffey Jr., president of Business and Development for Ambrosia. "Our duty absolutely needs to be that any person who comes here feels safe and gets attention they need."

He said there is a clear uptick in people who need help and they're here to help.

"We give the opportunity to reboot or develop a strong foundation they can grow off of," Haffey said. "This is a tough thing that’s going on in our country people are hurting and they need a lot of help."

They recently launched a new program called the Hope Tracker to help families and friends of drug and alcohol abusers.

"It's the families and friends that need to intervene and help us stop because we can’t control it," Schreck said.

Now, seven years sober, she's happy and healthy. She just bought a house in St. Lucie County, has a great relationship with her family and has a girlfriend who loves her.

She's also working for Ambrosia in their Port St. Lucie office to give others a second chance at life.

"I believe I’m here to make a difference. I’m meant to help," she said. "It’s pretty cool to run the facility that basically saved my life."

HopeTracker is a free website and easy to use.

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