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5 min read

Pursuing Lifelong Recovery: Generations changed by a UGM family

The UGM Life Recovery program prepares individuals to break cycles, create healthy relationships, and balance responsibilities. Rachel commenced in 2016, embarking on a lifelong journey of recovery alongside her husband Jeff, fellow Life Recovery graduate. Together, they are creating a healthy, safe environment for their daughter and impacting generations to come.

 

 

The Impact of Drugs

Rachel-SeriousRachel grew up in a safe, Christian home with four siblings and married parents. Yet at age 17, she began to drink alcohol and use drugs. “I was rebellious and wanted to do my own thing.” When she started experimenting with hard drugs, the trajectory of Rachel’s life changed.

Shortly after hard drugs took over, Rachel met her first husband. Both were addicted to drugs and alcohol, which led to a controlling, abusive relationship. He eventually kicked her out and she became homeless. “My family didn’t want to talk to me, and I kept trying to get back together with him.”

“In 2014, I got to the point that I was suicidal and had run out of every resource that I knew. I was sleeping on a mattress in some lady’s apartment…drinking all day, every day. I had lost everything,” Rachel explained. “After 6 months of that, it was either I go through with my plan of ending my life, or see if God is real. Maybe He could help me get sober.”

 

“In 2014, I got to the point that I was suicidal and had run out of every resource that I knew…I had lost everything.”

– Rachel, Life Recovery alumna

 

 

 

Relationships Changed by God

Rachel entered a detox program in Spokane and spent two months there. She was unsure about going to a long-term, faith-based program afterward but decided to join UGM Women’s Recovery in Spokane.

“I became a believer a couple of months into program. I asked Jesus into my heart, and I noticed everything really started to change after that.” Rachel committed to learning in her classes, opening up in counseling sessions, and establishing healthy relationships. One of the most impactful parts of her recovery was repairing relationships with her family, specifically her dad.

 

“I asked Jesus into my heart, and I noticed everything really started to change after that.”

– Rachel, Life Recovery alumna

 

 

Rachel-&-DadSharing a special piece of her heart, Rachel said, “My dad and I formed a really close relationship during that first year of my being sober. I got baptized on Easter Sunday that year and my dad got to see it.…He had battled cancer on and off for years and had been in remission. The next day he found out he had cancer again.”

When Rachel heard about her father’s cancer diagnosis, it felt devastating. He had consistently encouraged her to keep going in her recovery journey and was deeply invested in her daily life. Rachel started spending as much time as she could with him, frequently going over to visit and care for him when he began hospice care.

When Rachel’s dad passed and went to be with Jesus, she heard the news while at UGM. “I just started bawling. I remember saying, ‘Jesus, please take care of him.’ That was the toughest part of program.”

After years of praying for Rachel, her dad had the chance to see her become sober and commit her life to Jesus. “He said that was a very important thing to him…For him to be there as my biggest support was just what I needed at the time.”

Inside the walls of UGM, individuals not only do the hard work of breaking the cycles of addiction, but they learn to cope with and face the pain and grief that all people experience in other areas of life. As Rachel experienced suffering from the loss of her dad, she was kept safe in the loving, supportive UGM community.

Rachel-AOH

At the time, Rachel wrestled with God, asking, “Why now?” While there are some answers we may not receive on this side of heaven, Rachel shared, “It’s a deeper relationship with God now. I know He is still there and He’s going to be there.” 

 

“It’s a deeper relationship with God now. I know He is still there and He’s going to be there.”

– Rachel, Life Recovery alumna

 

 

 

Pursuing Recovery Together

Rachel-&-VioletToward the end of program, Rachel became friends with her husband Jeff in WorkNet, an employment readiness class. To respect UGM’s relationship guidelines while in recovery, they communicated on the phone and waited before hanging out one-on-one. “We wanted to do things in the right and moral way. We wanted to be honest with each other about our past and where we came from.”

They hung out at a park for Jeff’s birthday in April of 2016, shortly before Rachel commenced from the UGM Life Recovery program in June. “We did start dating during that time and became closer. He asked me to marry him at the end of that summer…It’s been eight years. I’m so happy.” 

In 2018, Jeff and Rachel brought their daughter Violet into the world. “I had always wanted kids, so she was a real miracle to me. Another thing that God gave me was her,” shared Rachel. Sweet Violet is eager to start kindergarten this fall.

 

 

Extending Care

Two years ago, Rachel became a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman in their lives in need of support. With her husband and daughter, she moved into the home and began providing constant care. “I felt like it was what God wanted me to do to give back to this lady because she had done a lot for us.” Rachel is grateful for the opportunity to serve her, but this role has required an immense commitment from their family. “I’ve experienced enormous stress for the past two years…I can’t leave that much.”

 

“I felt like it was what God wanted me to do to give back to this lady because she had done a lot for us.”

– Rachel, Life Recovery alumnus

 

 

In addition, Rachel works once a week as a dog groomer on Jeff’s day off from iron working. His career consists of building bridges and buildings. Both Jeff and Rachel are challenged by their demanding workloads, as they also honor their marriage, care for their daughter, and prioritize their recovery.

Rachel-Today

Rachel said when UGM asked her and Jeff to share their stories this spring, they felt encouraged by God. “It helped us refocus again, letting us know that He is still there. Sometimes [God] does these things to remind us how far we’ve come.”

 

 

Giving Back to UGM

Last week, Jeff and Rachel spoke at the 2024 UGM Gathering. Jeff explained that most of his relatives struggle with addiction. Personally, he started experiencing homelessness and drug use from an early age. His first encounter with the Mission was at 15 years old, and years later, he came back to UGM for the Life Recovery program.

Gathering-1

Today, at least four of his family members have experienced support from UGM to become sober, including his mother. Jeff shared his deep gratitude for what UGM has offered his family and himself. “The Mission pretty much taught me how to live. And at a certain point, it taught me how to love.”

 

“The Mission pretty much taught me how to live. And at a certain point, it taught me how to love.”

– Jeff, Life Recovery alumnus

 

 

Together, Jeff and Rachel are breaking cycles and changing generations through their commitment to sobriety and Christ.

 

 

A Time to Rejoice

Since completing the UGM Life Recovery program, Jeff and Rachel have navigated many things for the first time. “Things are very different when you get out of program into the real world…[things] I had never dealt with or navigated while sober, like being married [and] working all the time.” They have felt carried by the Lord, leaning on Him for support and a stronger faith.

 

“Without the program, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. I’ll be 10 years sober this summer…I would not be sober without God.”

– Rachel, Life Recovery alumna

 

 

Later this year, both Rachel and Jeff will celebrate 10 years of sobriety. Praise God! “Without the program, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. I’ll be 10 years sober this summer,” said Rachel. “Throughout these 10 years I’ve had to pull all those things from the back of my mind that I learned [at UGM]. God is at the forefront of it. I would not be sober without God.” 

Congratulations, Rachel and Jeff, for this incredible accomplishment and sharing your reflection of God's faithfulness. We pray for your family to continue in freedom from addiction and eternal hope in Jesus. It is an honor to hear your story and share it to encourage others.

LaBlanc-Family

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

 May the days ahead be filled with joy and strength!

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