One year later

Tammy shares her journey from addiction to recovery

by Tammy Graham –

I was a drug addict and dealer for many years, as well as a bartender and alcoholic. I lived life for what I thought was fun and games. This attitude brought me to the attention of Child Protection Services (CPS), and I lost my four children to the system, the youngest being a 1-month-old little girl. I was still in denial and insisted I was a victim, because I loved my children and felt I was a great mother. As I began to realize that the plan I had worked out with CPS was failing and I was losing many visits, I decided it wouldn’t hurt me to go into rehab. Once my case was over, I thought, I could use again.

I still laugh at that.

This string of devastating events brought me to the doors of the Yuba/Sutter Salvation Army Depot in Marysville, Calif., my home area. I had no intention of finding a “higher power”—let alone GOD. In this program, I was allowed weekend visits with my kids who were split up from the day they were taken from me. It was wonderful having them with me. The Salvation Army also had a program for the children at the church in Yuba City where Captains Darren and Courtney Stratton officiated. I figured, “What could it hurt?” I took my kids to church on the bus from the Depot with other clients. My kids dove in head first and always looked forward to going to church. My 10-year-old son quickly decided he wanted Captain Darren as a role model and mentor. My daughters, of course, adored Captain Courtney. What’s even more amazing is that I began to change and didn’t even realize it!

After being in rehab for two months, my children were reunited with me permanently. My original intention of using again had disappeared, and in its place I was soon to become a devoted Christian. The involvement of the church in our rehab program really set this whole transformation in order—not just with me, but also with many other clients. We had weekly Bible studies, kids’ nights, worship, choir practice, campouts, potluck dinners, pancake breakfasts and barbecues. We always gave the Lord thanks for everything.

My children and I spent the last few months of The Salvation Army Depot program in the cold weather shelter in Yuba City. We were able to have a three-bedroom duplex. The Salvation Army hosts the shelter, and we still continue with our recovery program. While in the shelter, I was able to take care of my court issues and fines and work hours from a DUI in 2004 and a drug charge in 2005. I completed a DUI course and got my license back. At the end of the four-month cold weather program, I received a Section 8 (subsidized housing) voucher from Sutter County, and I now have a nice little house next to a family park, as well as a van, insurance, and, best of all, I am employed by Sutter County as an office assistant.

I am active in The Salvation Army church, and my son is a junior soldier. He has his mind made up to become a captain for the Salvation Army. Eventually, I will become an adherent and then a soldier myself. The Strattons have taught me a lot and have set a very positive example.

I have always enjoyed writing, and this led me to publish an autobiography about my recovery process and life issues. I was able to get really honest about myself and my surroundings and my prior lifestyle. It also tells how I went from being somewhat of an agnostic to accepting Christ as my personal Savior. After reading a number of chapters in advance, the captains encouraged me to publish my story. The book is called One Year Later…From Addiction to Recovery to Sobriety, and it is available online at This helps me therapeutically because I have to stand on my words. I owe all of this to the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father—for without knowing them, my life would be hell.

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