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Hope from Hopelessness: How community support saved a Sabattus woman

After leaving the hospital, she detoxed on her own in a Portland sober house. She said those communities changed her, and after a year was managing a women's-only sober living home.

AUBURN (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Breaking the cycle of addiction is a unique process for each person, but recovery advocates say a job, stable housing, and community support can help.

For Ashley Reny, a 31-year-old from Sabattus, stability came from a sober house, and support came from her family.

"I'm a two-time convicted felon. I was stealing from my family like wouldn't believe," said Reny. "Checks, credit cards. I didn't care at that point who I was taking from as long as what I was getting what I needed to make myself feel better."

Reny was addicted to pills. A stint at a Florida treatment center worked for a short time, but back in Maine, she started using again. She turned to heroin as a cheaper alternative. The cycle of using drugs, then getting arrested became her new normal.

"I've been in the Androscoggin County Jail close to 30 times," said Reny.

Convictions of theft and forgery, from crimes she committed to sustain her habit, eventually throwing a roadblock in front her path toward a job at a nursing home.

"They called me in for the interview and everything, and they called me back and said 'oh, we did your background check and we're not gonna be able to hire you at this time,'" said Reny.

In January of 2016, her life hit its lowest point, but a turning point.

"My last time using I overdosed," said Reny. "I almost died. I was 'Narcan-ned' three times."

After leaving the hospital, she detoxed on her own in a Portland sober house. She said those communities changed her, and after a year was managing a women's-only sober-living home.

"I'd like to open a sober house in Lewiston-Auburn area because right now there is no recovery," said Reny. "I think that Portland really opened my eyes to how much of a loving family and supportive community a place can be."

Now, her focus is her nine-month-old daughter, Emerson.

"I just can't imagine now being so selfish. Everything that I do now is for her. I guess that's my motivation to stay sober, but it's also my motivation to continue to do the work of going to meetings," said Reny.

She hopes she can be one who can turn the tide on the opioid crisis.

"We might be able to save a few more lives than see a few more go."

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