Woman who experienced life of substance abuse, now helps others recovering

CHARLOTTE — Anna Fiscus-Surita experienced multiple traumas at a young age, which led to a life of substance abuse.

Fiscus-Surita said that she saw her father shoot himself. She was raped by a relative and attempted suicide.

“And so when I was 12, I started experimenting with alcohol and marijuana,” she said. “And at 14, I found heroin, and that was my first love. It took all the pain away.”

The alcohol and drug use triggered a vicious cycle.

“Then I started smoking crack at 17 and so it was the combination,” Fiscus-Surita said. “It was off and on for over 20 years in the street -- homelessness, incarceration, mental health hospitals.”

The woman said that she felt hopeless.

“I felt very unworthy,” she said. “Especially when I started having children and I was not able to raise my children.”

Three of her kids were taken away.

Fiscus-Surita was pregnant with her fourth child when she was released from jail without money or a ride.

She called a treatment program for mothers and a case worker picked her up.

“It was seeing me, hearing me,” Fiscus-Surita said. “Not judging me. Not shaming me and also being willing to meet me where I was at, literally and figuratively.”

She is now married, raising her oldest child and has earned two college degrees.

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Fiscus-Surita is also helping others recover from substance abuse as a full-time worker at Promise Resource Network.

The facility helps people who have lived with mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, domestic abuse and trauma.

“Recovery is not just possible,” she said. “It’s probable when people have the right supports that feel helpful to them.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit this website.

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