When she was a child, Afton Rudolph used to attend church and memorize Bible passages.
By the time she was 18, however, Rudolph was addicted to drugs and the furthest thing from her mind were inspirational quotes from the “good book.”
But Rudolph, 26, recently overcame great odds and kicked a decade-long addiction to heroin, crack and other drugs. She rediscovered her faith. She took a job at Turning Point Home in Washington, where she spends her days helping other recovering female addicts get back on their feet. And she became a real mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Lydia.
Rudolph credits Turning Point Home in Washington with saving her life.
“If I hadn’t have gone to Turning Point, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” said Rudolph, who lives with Lydia at Avis Arbor, a women’s shelter run by the City Mission.
These days, Rudolph spends time taking Lydia to the park, coloring and reading books with the little girl.
It hasn’t always been this way.
When she was 16, Rudolph, a former dancer and violinist, started abusing prescription pills and then became addicted to heroin and crack. Until she got caught, Rudolph stole drugs from the doctor’s office where she worked as a medical assistant.
Rudolph tried rehab clinics and methadone treatment clinics, but couldn’t quit.
Worst of all for Rudolph, she didn’t spend much time with Lydia.
“I was never a mom who was sober around her,” said Rudolph.
For many addicts, the odds of recovering aren’t good – fewer than half of those addicted to drugs or alcohol succeed – but on Dec. 18, Rudolph entered Turning Point. After six months of intensive rehabilitation, she “coined out,” (completed the program), the first time she had been clean for an extended period of time in almost 10 years.
“I needed to figure out who I was and why I kept going back to drugs. I was able to do that there. And I found my faith again,” said Rudolph.
She applied for public housing in Washington and has stayed at Avis Arbor with Lydia since June 18, awaiting a home.
“I honestly think God is making me stay here for a little longer, and that’s a good thing. I feel like I need structure and responsibility and I have that here. I’ve learned I don’t do well without it,” said Rudolph.
She attends chapel services and reads the Bible daily. Rudolph takes her recovery one day at a time.
“When I make long-range goals, it makes me crazy. But I loved helping people in the medical field, and I think I’d like to do something where I can help people, but not in a medical setting where I put myself close to drugs. Maybe something like counseling,” she said.
Her mother, herself a recovering addict, has supported Rudolph through her addiction and subsequent treatment.
When Lydia’s not with Rudolph, she is with Rudolph’s mother in Pittsburgh, where she attends preschool.
“She’s doing so well,” said Nettie Ledbetter, manager of Avis Arbor. “She has changed her life around. This place is a blessing, and she is having a positive impact on other people’s lives now.”
The best part of her sobriety is enjoying time with Lydia, Rudolph said.
“I am appreciative of the little things I do with my daughter like going to the park or lying on the bed, reading stories,” she said. “I’m so happy that I wake up every day and I get to spend it with her.”