Recovery program helps reunite family
Published 3:49 pm Monday, May 29, 2023
At 25 years old, Shannon Umminger didn’t know of a life without substances.
Growing up in Lincoln County, Umminger was raised by a single mother. Her father struggled with substance-use disorder, and it kept him absent from her life. And when she was 15 years old, her mother’s battle with addiction began, so, when she was introduced to drugs as a teenager, Shannon didn’t know another way but to continue the cycle of substance use she was born into.
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“I used drugs as a way to cope with stressful events that happened in my life,” Umminger said.
She started using marijuana after having her first child at 16. By the age of 20, her substance use escalated and methamphetamine took control of her life.
Umminger gave birth to her fourth child in February of 2022. She tested positive for methamphetamine, Child Protective Services intervened, and Shannon lost custody of her children. CPS referred her to a new program in Lincoln County, the Volunteers of America Family Recovery Court.
VOA’s FRC program works with families who struggle with substance-use disorder and are involved in the child welfare system. The immediate goal of the program is sobriety and the long-term goal is family reunification.
As the first participant of the program in Lincoln County, Umminger didn’t know what to expect. VOA FRC Targeted Case Manager, Candace Smith helped Umminger understand her reality.
“I’m hard-headed. I went in with the attitude of, I don’t really need you. I can do it on my own,” Umminger said. “But Candace, she’s a life-saver.
“She was pretty straightforward with me. She told me, ‘it’s either you using, or it’s your kids. It’s time for you to buckle down.’ And that’s pretty much what I did.”
Smith referred Umminger to a six-week intensive outpatient program in Danville. Umminger graduated from the program and Smith has continued to help her build an extensive support system. As her recovery progress continues, so does a future with her children by her side.
“I (was) 90 days sober on May 8. I’m getting unsupervised visits now – which right now is just two hours one day a week. But with the progress I’m making, I’m about to get multiple days and eventually overnights and eventually home,” Umminger said.
With VOA’s help, Umminger has hope, not only for her family, but for her community.
“I don’t think I could’ve done it without the program,” she said. “I’ve actually tried to refer a family that’s going through the same thing I’m going through. I think it’s going to be really beneficial for our county.”
For more information, visit voamid.org/family-recovery-program, or visit VOA at 105 Lancaster St., in Stanford.