'I know that God’s in the middle of it': Jimma Vanhorn's Story.

Connor Dunwoodie | Mar 04, 2021


“From my earliest memories, I have struggled with addiction”

For as long as Jimma Vanhorn can remember, addiction and substance use has plagued her life. Growing up, she came from a wonderful, caring family, but addiction took its hold on her when she was only 10. 

“It started out with drinking, drugs and slowly progressed from there,” Jimma said. 

For more than two decades, she has been in active addiction. When she was 22 years old, she tried oxycontin. 

“That was a game-changer for me. Within a week I was completely, mentally, and physically addicted, within a month I experienced complete demoralization,” she said.

From that point on, Jimma’s life began to crumble. She dropped out of school, moved home, got into legal problems, and was facing five years in prison - but she was given the option to go to treatment when she was 26, that was her first introduction to the solution. 

“I kind of pick and choose what I wanted to do in my recovery walk,” she admitted. 

She was not successful in her treatment. In the following years, she tried to stay in recovery but kept relapsing. In 2009 after a back and forth battle with substance use, she met her husband, who was also in treatment.

“Eventually we both relapsed, and in 2011 I found out I was pregnant with my son.”

She was then committed to not having her child born in addiction. She found out about Karen’s Place and was the 6th girl to go to Karen’s place. She had a healthy boy and decided not to stay in treatment. 

She relapsed. 

“This time, that relapse really took me to a new low because it wasn’t just me in my addiction that I was hurting,” she said. “My son, my son didn’t have a choice in the matter and I drug him through everything.”

The first three years of her son’s life were spent in lines at methadone clinics and in the backseat of a car while she was buying drugs. In 2017, her addiction took a dark spiral after an incredible loss. 

“We were just trying to survive, we were trying not to lose our so, and in the midst of that in 2017, my husband died of a tragic overdose.”

She had never experienced a loss like that, and she says the only way she knew how to cope was by abusing drugs and getting high. She crossed lines she said she would never cross. She became a heroin and Xanax abuser.

“I couldn’t go three hours without completely numbing myself out,” Jimma added. “And If I wasn’t completely numb, I was awake, grieving, crying, contemplating suicide.”

Jimma was in a dark area, feeling absolutely alone in her addiction and in raising her son. Her son had autism and needed a mom, she said she was not being one. 

In Oct. of 2018, she was truly contemplating killing herself. She was at a playground with her son and she was watching him come down the slide.

“For the first time possibly ever in my son's life, I put myself in his shoes and I thought about how sad his story already is. He had already lost his father to an overdose, and that he was probably gonna lose his mom to an overdose too.

In that moment she broke and cried out to God. 

“I realized I could fight to a different ending to his story, and to my story.”

She went to Christ Temple Church and found a lady there who did a women’s addiction recovery group. Jimma told her she needed help. One thing led to another and she was admitted to Karen’s Place

“I was sick and I shook for probably a month straight,” she said. “But for the first time possibly in my entire life I had a peace come over me because I knew I was exactly where God wanted me”

Every day Jimma felt a little better and a little stronger - and even more so, she found purpose and herself.

She then returned to her son after going through Phase II and enrolled in ARC’s Outpatient program in Louisa. 

“I began to really walk my recovery out.” 

After six months, she joined the Peer Support Academy. 

“ I wanted to share with other women what I have learned,” she said. “No matter how many times you’ve fallen, no matter if you have fallen 20 times, you can get up 21.”

After a year sober, she was offered a job as a PSS. From there, she moved to a position with the Millard College. She is also the mother she’s always wanted to be for her son.

“I know that God’s in the middle of it and I know this is just the beginning,” she said.

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