Anyone meeting Billie Owens for the first time these days would have a hard time believing that her life was ever out of control. Today she is a happy, bright-eyed woman, with a ready laugh and a smile. She’s articulate, thoughtful and a pleasure to spend time with. Billie is also something else — a Solid Landings success story.
Owens came to Solid Landings a little over a year ago from, McDonough, Georgia. She fled Wisconsin for Georgia after begging her Aunt Stacy for help with her drug and alcohol problems and to remove herself from abusive relationships. She spent two weeks detoxing herself on her grandma’s couch, followed by two years of substance abuse, attending AA meetings and trying to get her life on the right track, with no success.
Her family had tried to get Billie into rehab during those two years, and Billie was herself desperate to go. But no one was willing to admit her. She recalls being told, “We don’t help drug addicts,” by one facility, the implication being that alcohol was not a drug. This statement still makes her angry when she talks about it. Fortunately, she was eventually able to get through to Sure Haven, and she came to Costa Mesa.
Billie was placed in the Alternative Track, and began working with Mollie Warring using SMART Recovery. “At the beginning, my brain was so bad, I couldn’t even read, but I got it together and went over the book,” she said.
Billie has always been a religious person. Higher powers are not her stumbling block. What she hated was being told that she wasn’t in control. SMART Recovery told her that she was in control; she just needed to learn some new skills.
Using the SMART program, Billie learned to discard unhelpful labels and healthy ways to think about her problems. She was reminded that she was not a bad person, but rather a good person behaving in an unhealthy way; behavior she could address using tools and techniques.
Today, Billie is doing very well. She has a job, just got a raise and most importantly, she has great long-term goals. She plans to get more education and to work with women in recovery, especially those who’ve suffered from abuse. She regularly facilitates SMART meetings and is also the founder of a small group of women, known as “Billie’s Girls.” These four women volunteer to work with Sure Haven clients when they first arrive, helping them as role models and getting them on the right track.
Billie says that working with newer clients benefits both the client and the one offering the help. She says, “For us, it’s like looking in a mirror. We see the picked skin and can almost hear their brains working.” The client can see someone who’s been through the process and has come out better off.
When asked about any advice she’d give to her former self she doesn’t hesitate, “You are powerful, no matter how small you feel and don’t let anyone tell you anything different.” It’s clear that she believes and lives this now. Billie has traveled to a much better place since she heard people telling her, “You’re a drug addict; you will never have a good life!” She says she can’t thank the people of Sure Haven enough for helping her to prove that those people were wrong.