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Taking the First Step

Lying on a cold concrete floor inside the Knox County Jail, Meghan Denney thought of her unborn child and started to cry.

Her body trembled, her stomach churned, her head ached — the painful symptoms of drug withdrawal.

When she would look in the mirror, she saw a woman she barely recognized: no more than 90 pounds, with messy hair, disheveled clothes and bloodshot eyes.

“At that moment, I prayed to God and asked for him to help me or just let me die,” she says.

Denney was only 17 when she first began experimenting with narcotics. She later married a man who sold drugs and together they fed their addiction. Over the next decade, she entered a string of treatment centers and detox facilities only to slip back into old habits.

But when she found out she was pregnant, Denney decided to take action.

Feeling wanted

Through her substance abuse caseworker she was introduced to Susannah’s House, a Knoxville-based alcohol and drug treatment program for mothers in recovery.

Denney quickly discovered that Susannah’s House was a place where people in her situation would be welcomed with open arms.

“The people there — counselors, staff, the other mothers — treated me and my family with such incredible grace and support,” she says.

“I know what it’s like to feel unwanted.”

“I consider them my family and I feel like that love has been reciprocated.”

Susannah’s House takes a holistic approach to the recovery process, offering a variety of free services including:

  • Housing assistance
  • Mental health counseling
  • Parenting classes and
  • Access to career resources.

“We also provide free childcare while the mothers are in programming, hot meals, and medical services for those who need it,” says Rebekah Fetzer, executive director of Susannah’s House.

“We are proud to help the state of Tennessee in stopping the healthcare crisis of drug addiction in families.”

Building a solid foundation

Participants can connect with other mothers and build a healthy support system that provides motivation and stability.

Denney is now pursuing employment opportunities, participating in Bible study classes, and planning a future for her family. Her husband has completed his own recovery program and their relationship is stronger than ever.

They hope to provide their daughter, Kinleigh Grace, with a happy, loving home.

“I’ve had to give my other children up for adoption, and that’s my greatest regret,” she says.

“Now I want to give my daughter the life she deserves.”

She also intends to use her experience to help other women find the tools they need to overcome their own battles with addiction.

“I’m not ashamed to tell my story. I can hold my head up high,” she says. “My journey is all part of God’s plan.

“If what I’ve gone through can help someone else, I want to give them hope.”

“In the darkness they can walk toward the light. Sometimes it just takes a little love to survive.”

Photos by Shane Hunter

The post Taking the First Step appeared first on Better Tennessee.

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