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Non-Profit Program Treats Women Substance Abusers for Free

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RALEIGH — A Wake County woman will soon be back in court for having a drink because staying away from alcohol is part of her probation.

Jennifer Hardin received the punishment after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a deadly alcohol-related crash in 1996.

She has disobeyed the judge's order twice. Her parents say that is because she has not gotten treatment for alcoholism.

There are no state-funded residential treatment programs for women in North Carolina when it comes to substance abuse, and the cost of private treatment can be thousands of dollars.

However, there is a non-profit program which treats women for free. Many people say it serves as a model for what the state should be doing.

The substance abusers enroll in a two-year rehabilitation program. They have all been in and out of 30-day treatment programs, but nothing worked.

Ericka, a program participant, says not even two DWIs were enough to wake her up.

"I thought it was a joke. I didn't realize that I really could have killed someone," said Ericka.

"I've been able to look back and see the mistakes I've made," said Dina, another woman in the program.

Like Ericka, Dina chose Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) over prison. She has learned job skills there.

"It gives me a chance to look forward, try to plan, set some goals on how to do it different, how to do it better and how to do it right," said Dina.

TROSA's clinical director says cultural stereotypes keep people from acknowledging that women can be substance abusers.

"We're struggling here to help them make a 360-degree turnaround in their lifestyle," said Director Cynthia Wiford.

"This program is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Doris, a recent graduate of TROSA. "It's worth it. It's worth it to me. It gave me back my self-esteem, and it made me feel good about myself."

TROSA supports itself by operating several businesses on-site. Residents are required to work at various jobs for TROSA throughout their treatment.

Currently, there are 22 women and 178 men in the program.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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