Lora looks off into the horizon when she remembers the day her life began to change, like she’s watching a movie only she can see. “I was driving west and the sun was in my face,” she says. “And it just hit me. I knew I couldn’t keep living the way I was.”
It was 2010, and Lora was 18 years old. The previous three years of her life were a blur of drug and alcohol abuse, a failed attempt at rehabilitation, trouble with the law and a string of boyfriends. But Lora’s life hadn’t always been that way.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Lora lived with her sister and parents and attended a private Christian School from kindergarten until she was a sophomore in high school. Classes were okay. Sports were another matter. “I was all about sports,” Lora says – until her junior year.
Lora’s sister was her best friend, and when she transferred to a public high school, Lora followed her. By her junior year, Lora was drinking alcohol, abusing pain killers and had quit the sports she once loved. Her new school wasn’t as structured as the private school was, and Lora “was always pushing the envelope.”
Lora’s family had always struggled to make ends meet, and both of Lora’s parents had health issues. Life at home was a challenge. “I wanted to escape reality,” Lora says. “I didn’t want to commit suicide, because life seemed kind of interesting. I just wanted to be in oblivion.”
At 16, Lora told her mother she needed help, and began inpatient rehabilitation, but the treatment facility closed suddenly due to bankruptcy. Fearing Lora would return to her old routine if she returned to her old school, her mother enrolled Lora at Hope Academy, the recovery high school at Fairbanks in the fall of 2009.
At first, Lora played the class clown. “My teachers loved me and hated me at the same time,” she remembers. “I always had trouble with authority figures.” Then she met Miss Ashley, a teacher and counselor at Hope Academy. “She was a recovery coach, mentor and role model – all the good authority figures in one person,” Lora says. “She saw something in me that I didn’t see and she loved me until I could love myself.”
Lora began taking her recovery much more seriously. In addition to attending Hope Academy, she spent 90 days at Fairbanks before moving into their supportive living program where she learned how to live and function in a clean and sober environment.
Lora graduated from Hope Academy in 2010 and left supportive living in November that same year. Not long after she got a job, enrolled in college and gave birth to a son, Aiden. Today she works in the same office as her sister. “Between God, my family, work, school and the fellowship of recovery, I have a really normal life,” she says.
Lora’s father passed away in June 2012, and she admits there have been hard times in her life since leaving Fairbanks. “I’ve been able to overcome challenges clean and sober that I didn’t think I could have before,” Lora says. “Fairbanks gave me hope, and gave me the opportunity to live life functionally and happily. I truly don’t know if I’d be alive without them.”