It is hard to walk through the doors of Beit T’Shuvah and not feel like an outcast. It is even harder to continue feeling like an outcast when you are surrounded by this loving community. Beit T’Shuvah shears black sheep and turns them into warriors. Warriors fighting for their recovery one day at a time. No story personifies this Athenian might for recovery like Hannah R. 

In a family of well-behaved, tennis-playing, “Tetris thinkers,” Hannah stuck out like a red rose in a black-and-white world. “I touched the hot stove twice.” Later in life, she would touch that stove many more times. Hannah grew up in the one-horse town of Tracy, California—surrounded by almond orchards which she described as, “Nuts!” She suffered from ADHD, picking flowers during soccer games and staring out the window in class. That didn’t stop her from living a happy life. Her upbringing seemed normal, and until her late teens, everything in her life seemed peaceful. 

When she was 19, she went to school in the East Bay area and met an older man who was”recovered-ish.” Up until now, she did not know anything about addiction. The extent of her experience with addiction was based on her own experiments with drugs. When a friend would get a tooth pulled, she would take one of their pain pills and quickly realized she liked them a little bit more than her friends did. The pills weren’t a problem…but as you may be able to guess, they eventually would be. She sought the validation of her new rich and successful boyfriend and would do anything for him. A few years into their relationship, she caught him smoking OxyContin. Hannah chose to let him continue to do it as long as he didn’t lie about it. Soon after, he convinced her to smoke it with her. 

In no time, he was supplying Hannah with drugs every day. They stayed together for over six years. In that time, Oxys graduated to heroin and boyfriend became her fiancé. Through it all, he was abusive, manipulative, and all-around toxic. Her addiction got worse and worse, but on the outside, everything seemed fine. A month before the wedding, in the dead of night, without telling a soul, she left him and ran away to LA. To get from Northern California to LA she was rescued by none other than her ex’s best man who secretly hated him. At that point, she quit her job, quit school, and started running around with a drug dealer.  To earn enough money to support her habit, she started stripping. Once the drug-dealing boyfriend went to jail, she realized that it may be time to get sober. This would be the beginning of Hannah’s tennis match with treatment centers—bouncing in and out of sobriety. In one of her relapses, she became homeless. Dead of winter. Sleeping on the curb. Homeless. This is when her drug use escalated from smoking and snorting to intravenous use. To get herself off the streets, she started dancing again. 

Hannah went home one weekend to find out that her parents were getting a divorce. She moved in with her dad, helped soothe him, and continued to use. Her mom, having recently joined Al-Anon, set hard boundaries with her. This opened up a fantastic opportunity for her to pit her parents against each other. For reasons she still can’t remember, she left her father’s house in the middle of the night. When recalling this, her whole body slumped with regret.

On her 27th birthday, everything started to become clear to Hannah. You see, the year prior, her mom had told her that she had to get sober that year because she would be kicked off the family insurance by 27. Well, when the clock struck uninsured, she was still high, laying in bed, absolutely miserable. So, she called her mom and begged for help. Through the grapevine, her mom had heard of Beit T’Shuvah, a place that offered scholarships to people who couldn’t pay for treatment. After a lengthy detox and a month of daily calls with Lysa Harrison, Hannah made it here. 

Hannah came to Beit T’Shuvah for her first time in 2018. I know when you hear the words “first time” you think that everything horrifically exploded but, please, keep reading. “That’s when my life changed. I am so grateful for this place.” Through her newfound recovery, she also reconnected with her sister. Over the last few years, the two of them have become best friends—the key reason Hannah now believes there is a god in her life.  She left the program and moved in with a close friend and her sister. A man entered her life and when things got bad and he relapsed, she handled it differently. This time, she did not flee in the night. Instead, she helped usher him into Beit T’Shuvah treating him with empathy and kindness. Sadly, through the pandemic, the isolation started to take a toll on Hannah. A new relationship she had formed fell apart, she was laid off from her job, and the shivering goosebumps of depression started to creep in. With no idea she was about to relapse, she walked into a vape shop and bought some Kratom. For those who do not know, Kratom is a legal drug that, although in the coffee family, gives an effect similar to heroin. For six months, Hannah used Kratom. Once her addiction to Kratom was knocking on the door of her addiction to heroin, she went to her family for help. Having lied to them for so long, hid her addiction from them, and now “only” relapsed on a legal substance that wasn’t as life-threatening as heroin, her family didn’t even know if this was considered a relapse. Instead of taking this easy out, Hannah, a woman who may have lost her time but not for a second her recovery, checked herself back into Beit T’Shuvah. 

Since entering BTS, she has proven to herself and everyone else that she wants a life beyond her addiction. From working as a BTS Thrift Store intern to checking on her lost and struggling peers, from the smile on her face to the work she puts into her recovery, she displays a woman growing more and more day by day—a role model—a warrior.  

Spotlight on Hannah R. by Jesse Solomon

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