Samantha’s time at the UNC Horizons Program started with a surprise. She arrived with sons B., 3, and R., 3 months, around Christmastime when Horizons’ supporters donate gifts for the program’s women to select for their children.

“Knowing that I could provide something for my kids was a really big deal to me. It helped me a lot that my son was going to wake up on Christmas morning and be happy,” she says.

Another surprise for Samantha was that, from the start, she would be loved. She would learn not only how to be a better parent without drugs, but also how to connect with other women and handle conflict. With two small children who needed her, and a powerful addiction that led her to face jail time, she had been scared to seek treatment. That she could bring both children with her made her feel like coming to Horizons was a good choice.

“I’m 42 days clean now, and I have never been this clean. I love that everyone here supports each other, even if you’re only a day clean. With their support, I can push through. I’m learning how to be a better parent and together we are working through some of the anger that B. has to heal our relationship.”

Through her work with Evette Horton, PhD, she’s learned tools to help B. through tantrums and to help them bond as mother and son. Her boys “are everything,” she says, and she doesn’t want them to experience trauma as she did. Not only did Samantha experience the addiction of a parent, but she also experienced the incredible loss of her newborn sister and an infant cousin within a span of months as a teenager. She can see now how that led her to experiment with drugs. Because they numbed the pain, she continued to use substances, and she couldn’t stop.

Samantha knows that as she learns how to cope with life’s stresses and disappointments through her work with the therapists at Horizons, her children are also learning healthy ways to do the same as they grow up.

“I love being a mom here. I truly have a smile on my face every day. I feel radiant. I feel great. I’m determined to do something, and I can complete it.”