Sobriety Is the Only Way to Have Any Chance at Life

Ashley T., Narconon Arrowhead Graduate (2007)
Ashley T., Narconon Arrowhead Graduate (2007)

Hi! My name is Ashley, and I was born in northeast Tennessee in 1983. I like to think I had a fairly normal childhood. I remember my family started a small business before I was born, and I grew up around motorcycles in the country and was always a little rough around the edges. There were, of course, normal family problems: disagreements, happy times, sad times, work, vacation, and school.

I graduated in 2002, and high school was great. I did well; I was what Mom calls a “go-getter,” I guess. I really liked gymnastics and dance, and I went to church every Sunday. When I was a junior in high school, it was the first time I ever had any experience with drugs, alcohol mainly, and weed. By the time I was a senior, I had had an Oxycontin, but it wasn’t a normal occurrence or anything.

I fell in love my senior year with a guy who was younger than I was, and so when he broke up with me after I graduated, I was devastated and I wasn’t really sure how to cope with that. I had just started college at a local community college when I hooked up with a group of people who did some pretty heavy stuff: cocaine and heroin, amongst other things, and that’s where my addiction started.

Within a year of trying heroin for the first time, along with several other heavy narcotics, I went to treatment for the first time. After completing a 30-day program, I went home and immediately started using again.

By 2006, I had hooked up with some people who used crack cocaine and had my car stolen after spending several weeks in a hotel room with people I didn’t know. I decided I was gonna try again. My mom wanted to find something that was nontraditional, and I was okay with that. I was tired, and it had been four years since I started using drugs. It was too much. My life was not what I had expected or wanted, and I could not continue going on the way I was going. I knew I would die, and I couldn’t let it end like that.

My mom found Narconon through a Google search, and when we called and got the intake set up, it was at a place in Oklahoma called Narconon Arrowhead. Getting to travel that far away was both scary and exciting. I was ready. It seemed like an adventure, honestly, but I was still hooked to drugs, and it was still a lifestyle that I didn’t necessarily want to give up.

I arrived at nighttime and was picked up from the airport by a friendly, laid-back man. I remember thinking, “Man, this guy really knows what he’s talking about, and he’s been sober 27 years.”

After getting all the intake stuff done, they took me to a really nice room in the withdrawal portion, and everybody just seemed so on my level that I felt immediately welcome and fit right in. Of course, I was nervous, and I wasn’t sure what the next day would hold, but I was willing to give it a shot (at least for a little bit, anyway).

Withdrawal was busy. It wasn’t incredibly terrible as far as physical symptoms, but mainly because the withdrawal staff members were constantly having me get outside of my head and doing assists and different things to help me not focus on my anxiety.

I didn’t know what to expect after I got out of withdrawal, but I was willing to do anything to get sober. I’ve always had a pretty open mind, and I’m glad I did because some of the best memories I hold, even to this day, are from Narconon Arrowhead.

Finally, all these years later, I was at a place that taught me how to cope with the feelings that I was experiencing and the situations that I was in and how to handle them. The sauna portion of the program was amazing. The staff was knowledgeable, and I felt like I could really relax and just let go. Toward the later portion of the program, I was able to meet and work with staff and team members who cared about my recovery and made sure that I understood the material and could apply it.

“I hope and pray that anyone who has an opportunity to go through this program will go because knowledge is power, and sobriety is the only way to have any chance at life.”

I eventually left Oklahoma with way more than I expected to leave with. I left with friends, even family, and tools that I still use all these years later. I have a relationship with my family that’s stronger now than it ever was before. I’m able to communicate better with people because I know how to get my voice heard. I thank my Lord and Savior for letting me find Narconon Arrowhead. I believe He put me where I needed to be when I needed to be there.

I love my life, I love my job, I love my family, and I love my God. I hope and pray that anyone who has an opportunity to go through this program will go because knowledge is power, and sobriety is the only way to have any chance at life.

Ashley T., Narconon Arrowhead Graduate (2007)


Jo-Ann Richardson

Jo-Ann has always loved helping people. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and Elementary Teaching credential from California State University, Chico, Jo-Ann worked at non-profits around the United States and the world for more than 35 years. This path led Jo-Ann to Narconon Arrowhead, where she has been the Director of Legal Affairs since 2017.