How Getting Lost and Hitting Rock Bottom Turned her Life Around

Alexandra Patricia Ramos, known as Patty, hit rock bottom before she sought out help. During Patty’s childhood, her parents’ marital problems would eventually lead her mother to leave her husband due to infidelity. Patty from an early age was also exposed to alcohol abuse as her father was an alcoholic. She began using alcohol as a young teenager due to her family environment. Her mother’s boyfriends, who were alcoholics, would enable Patty’s drinking. In addition, Patty had little supervision. “Ever since I was 13 years old I used to go to clubs with my older cousins. I started doing whatever I wanted to do, leaving for two weeks and then coming home,” said Patty. “My mom didn’t know how to keep me home so although it was bad, she would buy me my alcohol so that I would stay at home.” As a young adult, Patty’s mother was diagnosed with Diabetes and died from the illness, which really affected Patty’s coping skills and made her become more anxious. To Patty, her mother was the best and her death left her with many unresolved issues that she had difficulty dealing with day-to- day responsibilities. At 27, Patty found herself in a precarious situation, she had three children and was in a longstanding relationship in which both she and her boyfriend were abusing alcohol. Their drinking and carelessness turned Patty’s world upside down. The Department of Children and Family Services removed her children from her custody in June 2016 due to alleged neglect. “I was careless, completely careless. I didn’t care. All I cared about was alcohol. It got to a point where I had bottles stashed in my room,” Patty recounted. “My life was over. I wanted to die. I literally wanted to die. I didn’t see hope, any chance. I thought I was a loser. I couldn’t get up from this. But I got on my knees and I asked the Lord, ‘Please help me, Father, I can’t do this by myself, I can’t do this any more’.” The court required Patty to get a job, attend therapy, enroll in different classes that ranged from substance abuse and parenting, and an submit to weekly drug testing. During this time, Patty also became homeless. She started living with her friend who resided near El Centro de Amistad. “Patty began therapy to deal with unresolved childhood issues, grief and loss, substance use and having her three children removed from her custody due to neglect,” said Ruchika Puri, ECDA’s Registered and Waivered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. “At the onset of therapy, she presented as a highly anxious person, who seemed overwhelmed with her life circumstances and responsibilities.” Ruchika added that some of Patty’s poor coping skills developed as a reaction to her environment and upbringing. With Ruchika’s guidance, they determined her treatment goals were to get sober and regain custody of her children. “I was broken. I couldn’t talk. We had a few sessions where I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to quit. I don’t need this help. But I knew I had to take these steps to get my kids back. So I did. And God is so good. I am so thankful for these programs because we get help. Not a lot of people have the same resources and not a lot of people know about the resources out there,” said Patty. Two months after therapy, she began having visits with the children. Her boyfriend asked how she was doing it. She replied, “If you really want to change you can. You have to be strong and get away from all of these people because the more you are around them, the more you want to do bad stuff. You have to change your surroundings and change your atmosphere. So he did it.” Patty also participated in CalWORKS and continues to work with ECDA’s employment specialist to look for higher paying job. When other job offers came up, her current employer increased her hours, offered competitive pay, and gave her more responsibilities. “Now, there is a tremendous change that Patty has accomplished with taking accountability, making sure she is doing what she needs to do, giving back to her community, and finding her faith,’ said Ruchika while Patty wiped her tears yet beamed with pride. “It’s amazing. I don’t believe it because if you would’ve told me in a million years that I’d stop drinking I would have said ‘You’re out of your mind’,” said Patty, who is thankful for El Centro de Amistad and its programs that give hope to individuals, like her, who once were lost. “We have a family again, you know, and that’s just awesome.”