Addiction impacts more than just one person. It can be devastating for family members and loved ones, and this was the case for Wilma Thompson, her husband, and her two young daughters.
Wilma is now 42 and has lived in London, a small town in Kentucky, her entire life. Her addiction began shortly after she went through surgery. She developed “a love like no other” for the opiates she was prescribed. As an office manager at a doctor’s clinic, Wilma started forging hundreds of prescriptions to obtain drugs. But she panicked when one day her prescription didn’t go through with the pharmacy. She knew that she had been caught and would end up in prison.
Wilma was aware that in prison she wouldn’t have access to drugs. She needed to get clean soon. In Kentucky, there were no inpatient detox facilities so she rushed to the nearest airport. At the airport, Wilma frantically looked for any flight she could get on: “I think I had every emotion you could have: I was scared, I was mad. I think at the time I was more mad. Mad that I was caught.” She found that the next available flight was headed to Dallas. Before boarding her flight, Wilma emailed her husband where she came clean about her addiction and that she may be in trouble. Previously, nobody had known that she was struggling.
After arriving to Dallas, she looked up places for treatment. After having had no luck at the first facility she went to, she arrived at Homeward Bound. Here, she met Samantha, Homeward Bound Resource Services Specialist/Peer Coach. While she couldn’t find a spot at Homeward Bound for that night, Samantha didn’t turn her away. Instead, she drove Wilma to Parkland, where she received some medications to get her through the weekend and got her situated at a homeless shelter. On Monday, Samantha brought Wilma back to Homeward Bound where she detoxed and started her 30 day inpatient residential treatment.
“They were tough, but I needed tough,” said Wilma. At Homeward Bound, she not only received compassion and a greater understanding of her addiction but she also realized the consequences of her actions. One day, a few days after she finished her detox, Wilma stepped outside for some fresh air and reality hit her: the pain and the devastation she had caused her husband and family. She broke down crying in remorse.
They were tough, but I needed tough. Guilt is a process, and I’m still processing that.
“Guilt is a process, and I’m still processing that,” said Wilma. She knew she would be going back home with this guilt when she faced her husband and children, who she had lied and deceived. A peer counselor whose husband had dealt with addiction gave her hope. This counselor told her that she felt that there was a “huge wall that was up but each day she could take a piece of the brick and move it to the side because … he could show her that he was dedicated to that recovery and dedicated to being sober.” Hearing this, Wilma understood that she needed to work hard to regain her family’s trust.
After coming back home, Wilma made sure she dedicated herself to her recovery and rebuilding her relationship as she waited for her sentencing. She knew she had to show them that she was serious about her recovery. You don’t fix an addiction overnight and you don’t fix a relationship overnight either. During this period, she was able to celebrate her daughters’ birthdays and be present for one of her daughter’s graduation from high school. When she had thoughts and cravings for drugs, she found healthy distractions such as cooking and listening to music. Her earnest dedication to her recovery helped break down the wall one brick at a time so she could reconnect with her family.
September 2020, around two years after her sobriety date, she went to prison for 18 months. Since then, Wilma has made further amends with her loved ones and also the doctor whose prescription pads she had used to forge prescriptions. Today, she works for her own defense attorney as a legal aide to help others like herself.
When I walked through those doors, I felt hopeless and when I walked out, I was hopeful.
When asked to describe Homeward Bound in a word, Wilma said “Freedom. When I walked through those doors, I felt hopeless and when I walked out, I was hopeful. The biggest thing I got from them - aside from recovery - was taking responsibility for what I had done.”
Homeward Bound Inc. is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization based in North and Far West Texas. If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder or having a mental health crisis, please call Homeward Bound at 214-941-3500. To watch the full video interview, visit www.youtube.com/HBIncTX.