- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - One night, 10 years ago, Blossom Rogers took her last hit of crack cocaine.

In a crack house in Daytona Beach, Fla., Rogers, high on crack, began writing a letter to God. She had been addicted to the drug for 19 years, but when she laid down the stem in her hand, it was the last time she would ever pick it up.

That night, she checked herself into a mental hospital, where she stayed for three days until she was sent to a treatment facility.

Rogers said it was the transitional house she went to after treatment that kept her from going back to that lifestyle.

Because of that, Rogers is working to build From Under a Bridge Safe Haven Home for Women in Tuscaloosa.

“When I was on drugs, I never had a safe place to go,” Rogers said. “I was going back to those people, places and things. When we go back to the same environment, the same thing is going to happen.”

The facility will be a three-quarter transitional house - a place to live where any alcohol or drugs are strictly forbidden and where the other residents are also recovering substance abusers - providing three women at a time with a home after finishing treatment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential,” according to samhsa.gov.

According to the organization, there are four steps to recovery:

— Overcoming addiction.

— Having a stable and safe place to live.

— Participating in society by having a job or volunteering.

— And having a supportive network of people.

Rogers said the safe haven house will provide all of those resources.

“They will eventually have to go back out into society, so we are training them and getting them ready to go out on their own,” but in the meantime, the house will provide them with a safe place to live with fellow recovering addicts and staff members for support and continuing recovery.

Rogers said the women are required to stay for six months to a year. In that time, they must prove their progress and remain clean from drugs.

She said it has been her dream to open a transitional house solely for women because her “heart just goes out to women.”

Rogers said she believes she can help women better than men, because she has experienced what they are going through.

“I’m not aware of such a facility (in Tuscaloosa) that primarily focuses on women,” said Jerry Carter, president of the Tuscaloosa NAACP. “It will be an asset to the community.”

Carter said he has followed her story and is amazed at how she turned her life around. He said he thinks the house will help turn other women’s lives around with the help of someone who has been in their shoes.

“I doubt there’s anything these ladies have been through that she hasn’t dealt with personally,” Carter said.

Rogers has experienced drug addiction, prostitution and prison, and she has gone through all of the treatment and transitional phases.

She said it all started when she was a child, when she was sexually molested. When she was older, her boyfriend got her hooked on crack. She said the drug became her way of escaping the pain of the past.

She said that is why most women get high.

“We don’t want to get high or drunk,” Rogers said. “It’s something deep within. I just didn’t want to feel the pain.”

She began sleeping in the back seat of a 1993 Dodge Dynasty under a bridge because her addiction had cost $600 to $700 a day.

Now, Rogers has a bed to sleep in at night. She went to college and became a national certified medical assistant. She now works at Alabama Abuse Counseling Services and is a case manager at the Phoenix House, the only other transitional housing in Tuscaloosa.

She started her organization, From Under a Bridge Inc., two years ago and has written two books by the same name, which recently led to a movie deal.

Through her organization, she travels as a motivational speaker and mentors recovering addicts through her support group at New Zion Baptist Church in Northport.

Rogers said she wants to give these opportunities to other women going through what she has been through.

“The reason I want to open this home is to let women know that we don’t have to stay up under that bridge,” Rogers said. “God brought me from under the bridge to drive over the bridge to my dreams.”

She hopes to have the house built within the next year on the land in Alberta provided by Habitat for Humanity of West Alabama, Rogers said.

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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