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Stories of Recovery

Family chaos, feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and plain old curiosity led John to take his first drink at age 13. Throughout high school and college, John continued to drink even more. “I didn’t like to feel things,” he says. “Alcohol became my comfort; it never let me down.” It took several DUIs and four car accidents for John to finally realize that alcohol had indeed let him down.

One early morning, after a night of drinking, John drove around a curve too fast, and his car flipped. He was pinned in the car, in and out of consciousness. John suffered severe injuries. As he recovered, John realized that “my life had become unmanageable. I was feeling hopeless and was starting to have thoughts of suicide. I remember thinking ʻAm I ever going to get this right?’”

Wanting to be a better person and realizing he didn’t know how to get there on his own, Josh sought treatment at Penn Foundation. “I finally realized that I wasn’t missing out on anything by being sober. My counselor truly cares about me and has helped me to understand why I made the choices I did, to accept the things I can’t change, and to make healthier choices. Thanks to Penn Foundation, I am proud of my life now, and I am excited for the future.”

Candice has had a long struggle with drugs. Her addiction to opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines led to homelessness and jail time. When she drove her car through a house with people inside (no one was hurt), Candice was finally ready to truly get help. She came to Penn Foundation’s Recovery Center for inpatient treatment.

Since then, Candice has completed both the Partial Hospital and Intensive Outpatient programs and was the first client seen at Penn Foundation’s Colmar location. In addition to her weekly outpatient appointments, Candice finds support through meetings, her sponsor, and her family, especially her daughter.

“Penn Foundation has helped me tremendously,” she says. “The team helped me to find a job, which I’ve had now for a year. I’ve never held a job this long. I can email them whenever I need to talk, and even on a Sunday, I will hear back that day. I have had a very long journey to get here. There have been a lot of ups-and-downs, good times and bad times. And I still have a long way to go. But I won’t ever give up on myself.”


Tyler smoked his first cigarette when he was just 9 years old. At 11, he tried marijuana with a friend. By 14, he was snorting heroin and other opiates. Though he was never affiliated with a gang, he hung around with kingpins, selling drugs to make money. Consumed by addiction, which controlled every aspect of his life, and tired of living what he calls a “selfish” life, Zach came to Penn Foundation for inpatient rehab.

“My entire mentality has changed,” Tyler says. “At Penn Foundation, I’m surrounded by ‘real’ people who take their recovery seriously. I’ve realized that I have not been a good son, and I want to earn my mom’s trust back. Because of the support I’ve received, I think that it’s possible. Penn Foundation has changed my life.”



Maryanne, who struggles with depression, was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. After surgery to eradicate her cancer, she was prescribed medication to help manage her pain. But the pain pills quickly became more than just a source of pain management; they became “an escape from a dark place.”

Eventually growing tired of relying on something to get her through the day and wanting a sense of belonging again, Maryanne decided to seek help. But just a few years later, following another surgery, Maryanne was once again prescribed pain medication. The temptation was too strong, and she relapsed.

She once again sought treatment at Penn Foundation. “I knew that if I was going to be given another chance, Penn Foundation would be the place where it happened. I’m in a really good place now. Thanks to Penn Foundation, I am a survivor.”

Jason first tried drugs in the sixth grade, started using marijuana in the 10th grade, and in his early 20s, experimented with cocaine. He also struggled with schizoaffective disorder. Jason’s unstable mental, emotional, and physical health led to violent episodes, suicide attempts, and multiple lengthy hospitalizations.

He was eventually referred to Penn Foundation’s ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) program, which, according to Jason, saved his life. He learned coping skills to manage his mental health symptoms and has developed relapse prevention plans for his substance abuse recovery. ACT team members have accompanied him to medical appointments, arranged transportation, and offered support with housing issues.  “I am so grateful for Penn Foundation,” says Jason. “I learned how to make healthy choices and take care of myself. I would be lost without otherwise.”

A single mom of three boys, Briana began using drugs when she was 12 years old. Her drug addiction caused her to lose custody of her sons, but that wasn’t motivation enough for her to get clean. In fact, it spurred her addiction even more. Stuck in a repetitive cycle of drugs, jail, and rehab, Briana felt hopeless and resistant to treatment.

But thanks to an innovative partnership between Penn Foundation and Bucks County Children and Youth, Briana was put in contact with one of the Penn Foundation Mobile Engagement Specialists embedded at Children and Youth.

“My connection with her changed everything. She never gave up on me. She always asked me what I needed and how she could help,” says Briana. When Briana overdosed, she reached out to her Mobile Engagement Specialist and was immediately connected to inpatient treatment at Penn Foundation. She now lives in a recovery house and continues with outpatient treatment.

“I don’t know what I would do without Penn Foundation and Mobile Engagement,” says Briana. “I needed someone that was there for me, that I could be completely honest with, without judgment, that would help me stay in treatment, and that would not let me take the easy way out. Penn Foundation made me realize that my children are worth my daily struggle to stay clean.”



Jenny has battled mental health and substance use issues since she was a teen. She has overdosed on heroin twice and was revived by Narcan both times. “I should not be alive,” she says.

After her second overdose, Bucks County Children and Youth connected Jenny to Penn Foundation’s Center of Excellence Program, a decision that she was reluctant about at first but one she says ultimately saved her life.  The COE team supported Jenny as she completed the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). The team takes her to medical appointments and is helping her find a job and a place to live. Her ultimate goal is to regain custody of her children.

“Penn Foundation is my family,” says Jenny. “I can call my counselors at any time, about anything, and they don’t judge me. And they reach out to me, asking about me and my kids. I’m angry at myself for what I’ve done, but I’m not ashamed anymore. I just want a life. I want my kids back. And thanks to Penn Foundation, I believe that it is possible.”


Click here to learn more about our drug and alcohol treatment services.