In January 2005, Andi Petley faced a life so off course, her four children were taken away and placed in foster care. The 15 years of drug abuse had taken their toll on Andi. So had years of domestic violence. Her self-esteem was so low she said, “I didn’t believe that I could get my children back.”
But Andi loved her children, and she was determined to do what it took to regain custody.
Her first step was admission to inpatient treatment for methamphetamine abuse. In the beginning of her treatment, her motivation was to get her kids back. But as she moved through the recovery process, a significant change happened: Andi realized she needed to get better for her, not just her kids. If she was ever going to overcome this addiction, it had to be because she was worthy of getting better, she deserved to be free of meth. She participated in the treatment program, domestic violence classes and parenting workshops, and began taking on responsibilities again.
The changes Andi needed to make were no easy feat. She needed to change everything, from the friends she hung out with to her methods of dealing with her emotions. But she was determined to do so despite her fears. She credits her faith in God for the strength to take on these challenges and overcome her fears. Andi describes her faith as “her everything,” a constant driving force in her life.
After completing three months of inpatient treatment, she went through nine months of outpatient treatment, during which time she regained custody of her children. She was putting her life back together, which led her to the state Self-Sufficiency Jobs Program and eventually the Supported Work Program at Goodwill Industries.
Here Andi faced more of her fears with the support of her employment specialist, Dyana Kirchner, who suggested she be a skills trainer. Andi had never considered herself in that role and was afraid to give it a try. But she trusted Dyana and gave it a shot on a trial basis.
Old insecurities crept in many times, and Andi waited for the “I’m sorry it’s not working out” speech from her supervisor. But it never came. She soaked up everything she was taught and impressed those in charge to the point where they offered her a full-time job. Eventually she was given an enclave to supervise at the Seneca site.
Andi continues to grow in her job and as an advocate for the clients she works with. Her success at Goodwill has also spread to the other parts of her life. She has become a leader and speaker in both her Christian 12-Step program, “Going Vertical in Recovery,” and in domestic violence support groups in the community.
Plus, with encouragement from her supervisor, Andi plans to return to school this fall to work toward a human services degree. She hopes to become a case manager for the developmentally disabled, to be a voice for those who may have none of their own.
Looking at Andi, you would never imagine she spent 15 years of her life addicted to meth. The confidence in her voice conveys no self-doubt. Instead, what defines Andi now is her compassion, her strength — and her consistent focus on her next challenge, whatever it may be.