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Celebrating 20 Years – Rebecca’s Story

Written by Legal Aid WV

09/01/2022

Growing up in Charleston, Rebecca had a “perfectly normal upbringing.”  

“I was happy,” she says. “Things were fine, and then I met my husband and moved out to Cabin Creek. I loved being outside the city, it was so quiet and pretty.” Her husband had a good job, and soon they added a son and daughter to their small family. “Things were pretty good.”

With her husband working long hours, Rebecca was on her own with two small children, and the stress began to mount. According to her, “It started with drinking some, and then a little more, and then I got to the point where I liked to party on the weekends. Most of the people in my family don’t drink at all, so I was never used to having alcohol around. But once I started drinking, I didn’t want to stop.”

The heavy drinking continued for years, but she and her husband remained happily married, though he urged her to drink less. Instead, Rebecca says, “I kept drinking and then got into pills and other stuff. I just couldn’t stop.”

Family and friends noticed the changes, and her husband also noticed the cash that seemed to disappear from their accounts. “I’d go into his wallet and clean it out,” she says, “but that man loved me and even when he was mad, he never left me on my own.”

After well over a decade of family, friends, and doctors telling her she needed to stop, Rebecca entered recovery one more time, and this time was able to maintain sobriety. Things were good—her family was thrilled. This continued for a while, but then she faced two staggering losses: her mother and her beloved husband both passed away within a year of each other, leaving her with unresolved legal and property issues that not only put her at risk for homelessness but also severe stress that put her sobriety at risk.

Rebecca sits at table talking with Legal Aid staff at Cabin Creek Health Center.
Rebecca (left) speaks with Legal Aid staff at Cabin Creek Health Center

That’s when she turned to Brendan Wood, a Legal Aid attorney embedded at Cabin Creek Health Center through a medical-legal partnership. Brendan helps people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) resolve legal problems so they can focus their attention on getting—and staying—in recovery.

Brendan assisted Rebecca in navigating and resolving the legal issues she faced, leaving her with a safe home, some assets in her pocket, and her sobriety intact. As a member of, and self-professed “den mother” to a SUD recovery group based out of the Cabin Creek health center, Rebecca was not only grateful to Brendan for the help she received personally but for how it affected her fellow peers in recovery. “They saw someone who was there to help, without judgment. That really means something.”

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