Greensboro program that helps mothers struggling with addiction expanding

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Ann Reilly Thomsson worked as a social worker until she realized that most children she was dealing with had mothers with addiction issues. If she could solve that, she thought she could do a lot more good and Freedom House was born.

That was in July 2006. Their record of accomplishment over those dozen years is impressive.

“We're like 75 percent successful a year after treatment,” Thomsson said. That’s about three times the rate of most programs.

Part of their secret is understanding a basic truth.

“Children need their moms,” said Houston Core, Freedom House’s executive director.

And Freedom House was one of the first – and still, one of the very few – to allow mothers to bring their children into the house for the program.

They realize it’s not a program for everyone.

“Because it's a long-term program and people want a quick-fix,” Thomsson said. “More than ever in our culture, they want a quick fix, they want immediate gratification. They don't want to put in the time, they don't want to put in the discipline, they don't want the accountability.”

But that’s exactly what Heather Sheene needed – though she didn’t realize it at first.

“The consistency blew my mind,” Sheene said. “I came from a lot of addiction an dysfunction so consistency was not something I was familiar with on any level.”

Heather was eight months pregnant when she found herself in jail after her fourth DUI arrest within a year. She grew up in a family of addictions and found that, at least temporarily, alcohol and cocaine helped ease the pain of that childhood.

“Once I realized they made me feel so good, they became my God,” says Heather. “They became what I worshiped and they became what I went to for everything.”

Until she hit bottom.

“I had no other options. I was to the point, I had painted myself into a corner and no one wanted to deal with me anymore. I would steal, I would lie,” she said.

But Freedom House helped her get her life back together and she’s not alone.

“It's growing, all the time,” Core said.

This time, to suburban Greensboro. See where Freedom House is building a big, new facility in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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