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Client Success Story

Chemical Health Graduate Cyndi Shares Her Story of Success in Recovery


When asked how she started abusing drugs, Cyndi talks about how she liked the street life.

“I was homeless and using dope, and I thought that was what life should be like. I was judgmental about people who worked and had a lot of stuff,” she said. “I thought I had life figured out.”

For several years, Cyndi worked just enough to earn money for her lifestyle. She lived on the streets or in houses with several roommates.

When she was 26 years old, her life changed dramatically. She woke up with a terrible headache and asked her boyfriend to bring her some medicine. By the time he returned, she was non-responsive. She was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors discovered a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain that disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain. The cause of AVMs is unknown, but it is thought that people are born with them.

She underwent three surgeries in one month to remove the AVM. Afterwards, she was left with a brain injury that resulted in memory loss, something she continues to struggle with to this day.

“After my brain injury, drinking and using drugs helped me fit in,” she said. “Other people would say they didn’t remember something happening, and I would say ‘me too’.”

Eventually, Cyndi came to a point where she realized she needed help to change her life for the better. During her Rule 25 assessment, her social worker suggested she receive treatment at Vinland Center because of her brain injury.

Cyndi first came to Vinland in 2010, and when she graduated, she felt positive about her chances at recovery. “I was fooling myself,” she said. She convinced herself that alcohol and drugs were not her primary problems, and almost immediately, she was back to drinking and using drugs.

After being confronted by her roommate about her behavior, Cyndi realized she was using drugs all the time and she felt horrible about her behavior. She moved back home to her parent’s house, and her parents urged her to return to treatment.

Cyndi returned to Vinland in 2011, which she knows now was the right choice for her.

“At Vinland, I opened up to people,” she said. “It was a nice experience, and it felt very comfortable. I really enjoyed the outdoor activities, and I appreciated the staff’s sensitivity to Native American traditions.”

Today, Cyndi works at a different treatment center as a chemical dependency technician. She works with women and children in the organization’s residential women’s program.

“Something I’ve taken away from my time at Vinland is the importance of relationships,” she said. “Some relationships take time and effort, but they’re worth it.”