UAA student and former Ernie Turner resident Jasmine McAuley has a lot to smile about these days
Only a few years ago, when Jasmine McAuley reached the darkest, ugliest part of her life, her morning routine started a bit differently than most folks.
“I was stuck on heroin,” said Jasmine. “I was injecting myself every morning, crying, because I didn’t want to.”
Jasmine, now 28, had finally realized she was powerless to stop using drugs on her own.
Her two oldest children were already in the care of their grandparents, but when Jasmine ended up at the hospital during a near-fatal overdose with her youngest daughter in tow, the state assigned custody of the four-month-old to her grandparents as well.
She was unemployed, broke, suicidal and out of options.
Desperate, Jasmine called the one place she knew could help her. “I called the Ernie Turner Center. I called CITC.”
As the largest detoxification center in Anchorage and one of the state’s leading recovery service providers, the Ernie Turner Center (ETC) offers recovery and support services for drug and alcohol abuse.
ETC operates within a “village of care” program model that provides an extended family environment where individuals work together toward recovery through cooperation and teamwork. At the core of the village structure are Alaska Native culture and values.
Through daily work, and cognitive and behavioral therapy, participants gain valuable life skills for independent living.
The program at ETC works with people who have addictions and, as a co-occurring disorder facility, also works with individuals who have mental health disorders. The average length of treatment is about six months.
Before ETC, Jasmine’s tenure with drugs had been a long one.
Jasmine was exposed to alcohol and drugs early in her childhood. As a young teen, she had become difficult to deal with, and moved out of her mother’s house when she was only 14. Jasmine would then experience a series of dysfunctional and abusive relationships surrounded by a pattern of heavy drug use, including bouts with opiates and methamphetamine.
At 25, after she had her second overdose, Jasmine reached what she considers the lowest point of her life, and finally called her mother-in-law for help. She told Jasmine about CITC and the recovery services provided by the Ernie Turner Center.
It would take Jasmine two attempts in detox and a residential stay of nine months for treatment before she achieved her sobriety. When Jasmine completed ETC’s residential program, she transferred to CITC’s outpatient treatment, utilizing CITC’s continuum of care system.
“April 28, 2010 … that’s my sober date,” Jasmine beamed. That’s the day her journey of full recovery began. Ask Jasmine, and she’ll tell you that’s her birth day. “It was the beginning of my life,” she said.
Today, Jasmine is in complete recovery, and a full-time student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she is studying to be a nurse practitioner in Behavioral Health and Psychology and carrying a 3.8 GPA.
Jasmine admits there are days where she struggles, but realizes she now has the tools to cope with life, her emotions and the challenges she faces.
“There are days when I am afraid. But I’m allowed to be afraid. I don’t have to run because I’m afraid. I don’t have to get high because I’m afraid,” she said. “I get to have faith.”
Jasmine is a passionate guardian of her new life and is very careful of how and with whom she spends her time these days. When she does see people from her former days of using drugs and is questioned about her changed life, Jasmine is forthright.
“Anybody that I run into from my old life, I recommend CITC and ETC,” said Jasmine, holding out her hand as if to present a piece of paper. “No, you can’t have my number, but you can have this number,” she said with a wide grin.