Gaining family at the San Francisco ARC

Grad keeps ties to ‘people who truly care.’

By Hillary Jackson –

Rachel Rodriguez could barely look you in the eye when she first checked herself into the San Francisco Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in 2017.

“I lost my life. I lost who I was. I didn’t have any self-esteem or any self-confidence,” Rodriguez said. “As addicts it’s hard to feel like we have any worth.”

Rodriguez had acquired several DUIs, which she attributes to her efforts to cope with her father’s death two years prior. She also was estranged from her husband. She checked into rehab with the determination she would “complete [the program] no matter what happened.”

“When she came in, she was a little spitfire who was very self-willed,” said Erica Shields, the former Resident Manager for the San Francisco ARC who now works at the Anaheim (California) ARC.

Four months into Rodriguez’s program, her grandfather died, and she left to go to Oklahoma for the funeral.

“By this time, the change had already happened,” Shields said. “I was kind of against letting her go, because I wasn’t sure if we could get her back. She was at the point where she could go either way…she came home early. We were so excited.”

“I knew I needed to fix my life,” Rodriguez said. “They were willing to let me come back. They were willing to hold my bed for me, and that’s not something they normally do.”

With the restart, Rodriguez ended up turning her time at the ARC into a 13-month program, and refused to relapse in the season of loss.

“I have seen the most growth in her spiritual life,” said Major Rachel Gallop, San Francisco ARC Chaplain. “Now when she has a setback, she really tries to see God in it and make the most of it. She has grown in her focus on her relationship with God and helping to serve other people.”

Rodriguez became a soldier at the San Francisco Korean Corps in 2018. Now that she’s graduated from the ARC, she regularly comes back and is the first grad of the San Francisco ARC to return to stay the night, taking BART from Hayward, California, to San Francisco to do so.

“They became my family,” Rodriguez said. “They always encourage people to come back. They give you the tools to succeed and I need to be around people who truly care.”

In addition to gaining family in the ARC, Rodriguez has experienced restoration of other relationships. When her husband found out she was in rehab, he came to see her. They hadn’t talked in five years. Rodriguez had even lost her wedding ring when she was using.

“He just bought me a new one for Valentine’s Day,” she said.

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