Offer Hope, Restore Dignity, & Transform Lives

Deanna Burdsall - Sober for seven years thanks to our addiction counseling services

When I arrived at Volunteers of America of Indiana’s work-release program (Theodora House) in 2010, my life was in shambles. I was a long-term drug addict for over 30 years - since I was 17. I had lost my job at the post office, my family, everything. I had never been in deep trouble before until then. My whole world had fallen apart and I knew I needed help but I didn’t know what I specifically needed.

After I was living at Theodora House for a few months I started developing good relationships with the other women who lived there. A few of them were going through drug counseling through the onsite clinic. They were really excited about everything they were learning about drug abuse and recovery, but I was skeptical. I had a street mentality where I didn’t want to trust people too much or open up to them.

But, the longer I was in the program and witnessed the enthusiasm of the women going through counseling for drug addiction, the more I realized how much I needed it too. I decided to follow through, and I met with a few counselors who changed my life.

It was a huge breakthrough to me to learn about substance abuse from a clinical point of view. I had been to NA and AA meetings for a while, but those never taught me the science of addiction and how it was physically and chemically affecting my body, especially my brain. For example, one thing I learned is that it takes two years for your brain to settle the fog from addiction. I never knew that before. I learned a lot from the drug classes that the staff taught as well. Counseling was a huge stepping stone for me.

When I left Theodora House, I continued seeing a counselor at the outpatient clinic for drug classes and addiction counseling. It was so helpful on my path to recovery because when you’re addicted all you can think about is getting high.

Now I’ll have seven years clean this year. And that’s a miracle, I can’t believe that I’ll have seven years. Before I started counseling I couldn’t even get a day clean. The substance abuse counselors at Theodora House were a big part of it; they came through for me a lot of different times.

Now I’ll have seven years clean this year. And that’s a miracle, I can’t believe that I’ll have seven years. Before I started counseling I couldn’t even get a day clean.

I now work with women in recovery at a halfway house, and it’s great. When I first got the job, I had my doubts, but the staff told me that I was worthy of it. That was huge for me, what an “ah-hah” moment that touched my heart. I owe a lot to them.

Now, the women I work with look at me incredulously when I tell them I used to get high and was an addict. They’re usually astonished! I get a kick out of it when some of the younger women question my past, because in my head I think, “I’ve shot dope longer than you’ve been alive, you have no idea.” It’s good though, that people perceive me in a different light. I am a completely different person now.

I currently live in the same neighborhood as Theodora House, and sometimes when I’m driving or walking by I’ll look over, see the women there and it opens my heart again to all that I have learned. I’m so grateful to have achieved this new normal.

Learn more about our outpatient clinic that offers drug and addiction counseling.