Writer’s Name: Nanette Buchanan
Title: Willpower - the Means for Survival
Tonya Wilkins originally from Washington, D.C. would have never thought when she had her son at the age of twenty that five years later she would be faced with an addiction. She couldn’t blame her addiction on an abusive childhood, or low self-esteem, because when in love one often doesn’t realize they are addicted. “It was what he did; what I learned to enjoy with him.” Her addiction went from small binges to “shooting up” and being high for days. Her need to supply the habit was paid with money, favors and sexual exploits. When she became pregnant with her third child and lost her second while still on drugs, she realized she had to stop. The separation from the man she loved also separated her from her son. She would lose him trying to save herself. Her son was cared for by family totally separated from his mother.
Tonya searched for treatment centers but realized she had to remove herself from her familiar surroundings. She knew she would only return to habits and friends she needed to leave behind. She was told she wouldn’t be accepted by many facilities she thought would help her. Determination led her to call facilities out of the city and out of the state. She fought her way into a facility that accepted her in North Carolina. After three months of treatment, while pregnant she was told she could leave, not needing any further sessions. Tonya knew that three months was not enough to keep her from returning to old habits. She sought another facility. There had to be another source she could contact that would provide sessions for her addictions as well as accept her while pregnant.
After the birth of her daughter she was again released and told she had successfully completed the program. Certain that her addiction would creep into her life again she sought another facility for herself and her new born. It became her home for two years. Determined to further her education and keep herself focused, Tonya enrolled into school and completed her Associates Degree. She completed the program, and remained in town receiving a support system from the counseling staff and other addicts. Since the onset of her addiction, she finally established her own home.
Tonya continued her education, and has received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees. Today, she is working as a Therapist, counseling other addicts and giving them the support. Her goals have gone well beyond the days of seeking to be free of her addictions. She is interested in furthering her education and achieving her PHD. “It is my willpower that drives me. If I become settled, complacent, and content with just what I have today, my days of addiction are as close as yesterday.”
As a therapist, she has seen her clients return years later only to start all over again. “Addiction returns, often when the addict has lost focus or has nothing to focus on. The same way they were determined to get high, they need to be just as determined to recover. There are women who will steal, lie, cheat, and have sex for their high; that need should be the drive that will only be satisfied with recovery.”
Most addicts are forced into recovery because of court sanctions, violations, family services or family threats. When not faced with this dilemma they return to “getting high.” The focus at that moment was to remove the pressure of the external force pushing them to be clean. Tonya became her own force. She refused to have someone else push her, knowing it would be temporary. She has come full circle recognizing her addiction, her willpower, the need for motivation, recovery and focus. Only one out of eight addicts makes it past five years clean. This statistic is frightening when you take into consideration they will hold on to recovery until the system of support lets go. In NC at least 100 addicts per month seek treatment. This is not including the people who never reach out for help.
Tonya became that one. She has been ten years clean and has surrounded herself with reminders each day of who she could have become. She has reunited with her son and her children have become another reason for her to remain focused. Tonya Wilkins follows her own words daily, “I’m going to be blunt, I’m going to be honest; if I ever sugar-coat my mess I will become that mess.” Willpower is her daily support; it has become her means of survival.