Amanda went to prison for drinking and driving, her second offense. She had been to treatment for substance abuse but it didn’t seem to do any good; she wanted to numb the pain of losing her son in a car accident and the only thing that made her stop thinking about it was alcohol.
While in prison, Amanda thought about how she had let her three remaining children down. Treatment at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility was hard—it required 100% participation and sharing with peers she did not trust. The treatment program did not consider cultural differences in how people process feelings, which made it hard for Amanda to engage with it. “There are pieces I think are relevant to my situation but others don’t get it. It’s so hard to try and participate when I feel like some of the women on the unit are just faking it…I like the Talking Circle because I feel understood and I know people are being real.” Amanda attended Red Lodge programming on a regular basis, and the Talking Circle and sweat lodge ceremony helped tremendously as she began to process her grief. There were times she felt vulnerable as the layers of pain and shame started to peel back, but she knew she was in a safe place to begin healing her wounded spirit.
Amanda finished treatment and was released in November 2014. She graduated with honors in May 2016 with a degree in substance abuse counseling, and her youngest son graduated with a double degree in mechanics and welding. They moved back to Warm Springs and still live together, supporting each other and maintaining a life of sobriety. The household has grown to include one of Amanda’s grandchildren, who now has a stable, loving home and two positive adult role models.
This three-generation family has kept in close contact with Red Lodge, and all volunteer. Amanda says, “I love my life, and if someone would have told me 10 years ago I would be clean and sober and a college graduate I would not have believed them! I am so very grateful for everything I have learned and received from Red Lodge on this journey. I owe a lot of my success to Red Lodge for encouraging me to be the best I can be