Cindy: My name is Cindy Ramey, and my son sitting here is Jerod Ramey, and about two and a half years ago we were living in the street, well in a hotel, and almost on the street, and my daughter found us a place called BHC Behavioral Health Center. And they introduced us, they’re around the corner from the Franciscan Center. And we got involved in the Franciscan Center with Miss Judy and Miss Sabrinia helping us get our birth certificate, our social security card, our ID – all the services that they have we needed, we desperately needed. And they helped us get all that stuff that we needed. And we stayed connected every day. We ate here, we got clothes from here – I got my whole new wardrobe from here. Just blessed, we were just blessed to have that, to have the Franciscan Center in our life. We got our mail here. We still get our mail here, we haven’t changed it yet. We’re working on it.

We stayed in the Behavioral Health Center housing for two years. Right on Charles Street around the corner. It helped us rehabilitate from drugs and mental health. We’re clean. We’ve been clean the same time, two and a half years off of street drugs. Well, Jerod didn’t do illicit drugs. He did the marijuana and prescription pills. But I did the illicit drugs and I got to the point to where I was done. I was at wit’s end. And I had nowhere else to turn and my daughter was looking at me and my son was looking at me.

I have three children, Jerod is the youngest. My oldest son is an addict. He’s clean, too. My daughter’s an addict. She’s clean. She’s got four years clean next month, on the 17th of November. And Jerod and I have two and a half. And it’s been a long road. Mostly good. But we struggle when the devil gets in your mind, y’know, and you think about the illicit drugs. You see people and you know what they’re doing and you know where they come from and how they’re living. And you used to live like that and you feel for them.

But I think prayer’s the main thing. Prayer got me where I’m at today. Praying and believing in the Lord, the God that I believe in. And, like I said, the Franciscan Center was the best thing that we could have in our lives at that time and today. They just were wonderful and always greeted us with a  welcome smile. Always, always greeted us and welcomed us. And no matter how bad we were feeling, or what kind of day we were having, they were always so good to us.

Jamie: Jerod, where are you working?

Amazon, down in Dundalk. That was the one that was hiring at the time. I’ve been there a year now. But for me, it was not getting sober. Getting sober was the easy part. Getting off of drugs is the easy part for many people. It’s staying sober, and staying focused on bettering yourself. That was my biggest struggle for a long time. Just staying focused trying to better myself. This is the longest I’ve successfully been able to do that.

Jamie: Sometimes when I out talking to folks, I get the sense that that opportunity to get a hit is the high point of their day.

Jerod: Every day it was, I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to feel guilty, I don’t want to feel ashamed. I don’t want to feel hate. I just want all that gone. And with drugs, that’s the easy fix, and the bandaid on the surgical cut. So, we basically needed surgery. We didn’t need a bandaid, we needed surgery.

Jamie: Were the people you were doing drugs with a kind of community?


Cindy: Oh, yeah. You feel like you fit in somewhere. I knew people and I socialized with some people but for the most part, I stayed to myself. I always tried to keep a roof over our heads, but it was always with somebody that was an addict. My landlord was an addict. The people I lived with, they were addicts. We surrounded ourselves with dysfunctional people. We look back and they’re still dysfunctional. I’m not saying we’re better, but we’re getting better. Bettering ourselves, cleansing our souls. To be better people. To help other people.

Jamie: What would you say to someone in that position to help them get to where you are?

Jerod: Don’t give up. It’s a cliché, but you’ve got to try again. Surround yourself with people who want you to get better. Don’t surround yourself with people who want you to fail. Which is hard to nowadays, especially with social media. Surround yourself with people who are likeminded. But also that are also sober. Like us: we wanted to be sober, so we had to be around sober people. For me, I forgot what sober was like. I’m 25, getting ready to be 26.

How long were you in addiction?

Jerod: About ten years, since I was about 12 or 13.

Cindy: I had 16 years clean. When my children were little and I was married to his father and he was still alive, I had 16 wonderful years. Well, I had 19 years with him, but 16 of those years was clean and sober. I just felt, when I lost him, my world changed in a day. I woke up and it was another world. And I couldn’t accept that for a long time. I grieved for eight years. And I still grieve for him. But I’m dealing with a little better now. I’m not numbing it. I’m not trying to change how I feel.