Danielle Stansberry-Matlock gave a gripping, emotional, first-hand account Tuesday of what it is like to be addicted to drugs and at the rock bottom in life.
It was the Independence House that helped her turn her life around.
“I have my life back today,” she said in the very common area at Independence House where she spent months of her life in recovery.
“I owe that to this place. I really do. If you’ve never seen hopeless, just watch an addict come in for treatments for the first time. That’s no hope,” she added. “When they leave here, there’s hope.”
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear was in town Tuesday to present the Independence House program with much-needed funds to continue it’s mission — $450,000 allocated by the state legislature this past session.
“There are very few programs [in Kentucky] that specifically address substance abuse in pregnant and postpartum women,” Beshear told a group of local officials, Independence employees and residents, and members of the community. “Thank God Independence House is here … These women would have no place to turn in this part of the state without this organization.”
Independence House is a 14-bed facility that provides “trauma-informed care, health, mental health, housing, employment, education and training for pregnant and postpartum women.” Women who are part of the program get intensive services to help insure the birth of clean, healthy babies. It also provides drug-addicted women the support they need to remain sober and provide for their family.
The program is a part of Cumberland River Comprehensive Care and is one of 15 different facilities in Kentucky to receive money to support its efforts.
Beshear said the funds came from litigation the state settled against Purdue Pharma, makers of much-abused narcotic painkiller OxyContin.
“It’s truly taking money from a drug that helped cause this problem and putting it to use to finding a solution and helping people,” Beshear said. “It’s the right place for this money to go.”
Stansberry-Matlock’s story of her time at the facility, and subsequent success outside of it provided a unique perspective on its effectiveness.
She said she came to Independence House, for a second time, in July 2005 after just being released from prison. She stayed seven months and during that time, was able to see her two children, on occasion, during overnight stays, got a job that she ended up keeping for nine years, and learned how to live drug-free again.
Stansberry-Matlock ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in social work from Eastern Kentucky University, and then later a master’s degree. She’s now a counselor at the facility that helped her so much.
She said she was physically abused in her previous marriage. Her son, who now is in the U.S. Army, was by her side through most of her tough times.
“He’s not on drugs. He texted me the other day and he said ‘I told you I wouldn’t be like my dad,’” she told the crowd. “That’s what this is about. All the degrees in the world mean nothing compared to my son telling me how proud he was of me and my accomplishments and watching me live my life and doing the right thing.”
“That made every ounce of pain in the last 11 years worthwhile.”
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers praised the work of the Independence House and said that drug addiction is often a “generational” problem that sometimes has generational solutions. He noted Beshear’s father and mother, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, were big advocates of the program.
Stivers added that drug addiction and fighting it are not partisan issues.
“This is a win-win situation for everybody,” Stivers said. “It is something we have consistently supported in my 20 years [in Frankfort]. We all understand the importance of working on this project.”
Stivers said investing money into intervention programs like Independence House makes sense because addressing a problem early saves money down the road.
Beshear, along with Stivers and 82nd District State Rep. Regina Bunch, presented Cumberland River Comprehensive Care CEO Danny Jones with the ceremonial check for $450,000.
“Cumberland River and Independence House are grateful and honored Attorney General Beshear has allocated these funds to continue our work with pregnant and postpartum women,” Jones said. “His devotion to the needy in Kentucky is wonderful.”
Beshear said the money would be distributed over the next 26 months.