While opioid overdoses continue to plague our community and communities across the country, there are small signs of hope. Signs that people and programs are making a difference.
For Melissa Torres, this year day marks a success she thought she’d never see.
“Such an honor,” said Torres. “I have come so far. I have come so far from wanting to die."
Torres spent much of her young adult life struggling with a drug addiction.
“I didn’t really realize what was happening until it was too bad and I was very very sick from it."
“The military veteran and mother of three says she struggled with work and structure, eventually she moved back in with her parents.
“At one point I was in my closet hiding, doing drugs while my kids were in the next room sleeping and my parents were in the next room sleeping,” said Torres.
In 2014, she finally hit a turning point, a program that worked. But it was only after she had lost custody of her children.
Her determination to stay sober and succeed is why in October she was honored in an incredible way.
“It fills my heart with more love than I can imagine the way I felt when I woke up this morning,” said Amanda Marino.
Marino, a woman in recovery herself, is the founder of Woman Empowering Women in recovery, a non-profit, with the sole purpose to raise money to send women in recovery to college.
Melissa Torres was the first recipient.
“They could make all of their dreams come true and it’s another reason to stay clean and sober and help their chances of maintaining long-term recovery,” said Marino.
Torres is now studying business management at Palm Beach State College, hoping to change the path for so many others especially her daughter.
“It was dark and lonely and I don’t wish that on anybody and I especially didn't wish that on my child,” said Torres.
Marino said Melissa regained custody of her children and successfully made it through her semester.
Women Empowering Women is looking into giving her another scholarship for another semester.