SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A woman formerly addicted to meth for 20 years is celebrating five years of sobriety this week to encourage others that they can turn their lives around too.
She actually now works on the other side of the law for the San Francisco Probation Department.
After going to rehab, then to prison for drug charges, she got sober and found opportunities in the system to get clean and get a job.
Addiction has claimed many lives here in the Bay Area but Victoria Westbrook survived to share her recovery journey and now helps others coming out of incarceration to living a better life.
She tells KRON4 the key is accountability.
“Seeing people who have been successful help. Also being able to talk to people. Other people that have gone through reentry understand things that people who just know about reentry on an intellectual level don’t get. Like that part about everything moving too fast and not fast enough all at the same time,” Westbrook said.
Victoria Westbrook turned to drugs after losing her mother, her twin, and being subjected to incest.
At 50-years-old she was caught dealing by the feds. By then she had been an addict for about half her life.
This week, she is celebrating her 5th year sober by helping others get clean too.
Westbrook is working on reentry at the San Francisco Adult Probation Office.
She believes she is alive and well with her family today because the criminal justice system held her accountable.
Although incarceration isn’t the exact answer, leaving drug addicts to make their own decisions isn’t either.
“They need more than just their choice right. When someone says I’m ready for treatment, that window is very short, right. It’s usually until their brain catches up and it’s like, ‘What are you doing? This is too hard, you don’t want to do this, it’s not going to do any good anyway.’ So we need to have more treatment facilities. We need to have treatment that is really on demand when you don’t have to wait a few days to get into treatment,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook worries about addicts who are dying on San Francisco’s streets and the residents including children who are forced to watch.
She believes if counties can’t handle the task of making long-term treatment available for well past 30 to 90 days then a regional approach might be better and that men and women should have separate spaces in recovery.
Westbrook believes abstinence-based recovery saved her life.
While spearheading Women’s Gender Responsive Coordinator for the Reentry Division of the San Francisco Adult Probation Department, she is now also enrolled in graduate school.