By TJ Aulds, The Daily News

Published September 6, 2006

If you look at Drusilla Waters today, you would not be able to visualize her as a homeless, strung-out mother of four who had to lie, steal and hustle for a daily dose of crack.

“I used every day,” said the 37-year-old Texas City resident. “That was all my life consisted of — getting drugs and using. I was homeless, lost my kids. It was just overpowering. It was like using (drugs) against your will. You don’t want to do it, but you do.”

Such was her life for nearly a decade. But about four years ago, she walked into the Alcohol Drug Abuse Women’s Center.

These days she is a housekeeping supervisor for a resort-hotel. She has a new car and just purchased her first house. She has also helped other former addicts get jobs where she works and continues to volunteer her time at the ADA Women’s Center.

And she has her kids back.

Waters credits the ADA Women’s Center with saving her life.

“It’s a God thing,” she said. “I am so blessed.”

Before Jan. 13, 2003 — the day Waters went clean — her life was anything but a blessing.

She married at an early age, dropped out of Texas City High School her sophomore year and was living a relatively simple life. At the time, her drug use was limited to alcohol, marijuana and occasionally pills.

But it progressed. Her husband — who supported her addiction — left her. At 18, Waters had four kids and was jobless.

Waters said the quest for drugs — mostly crack cocaine — consumed her life.

Family members moved in and took her kids, not that she noticed.

Along the way, Waters found herself tossed in jail several times and went into court-ordered rehabilitation and drug-abuse programs. None worked.

“That never stopped me from using,” said Waters, who had promised herself several times she would quit. “Once I started feeling better, I’d just go out and start up again.”

The bottom came in an abandoned house in east Texas City where she and others had been using.

Waters became ill just as police arrived in the neighborhood.

As her companions scattered, Waters walked to a payphone with money and some drugs in her pocket. She picked up the phone, intending to call her dealer.

Instead, she called a cab to take her to her mother’s home.

When she arrived at her mom’s home, she was surprised to be taken in. She flopped onto the couch where she remained for nearly a week.

She was nursed back to some semblance of health, not so much by her mother as by two of her daughters who were living with their grandmother.

She started to feel better but, unlike the many times in the past, she didn’t return to the streets to seek out crack.

“I just didn’t want to use that day,” said Waters.

By the end of the month Waters found herself at ADA Women’s Center, a drug rehabilitation and shelter center now in its 20th year.

Waters was among the 111 women that year who sought recovery through ADA House, which offers a combination of the traditional 12-step program and a deeper drug addiction-counseling program.

Last year, ADA House helped 153 women beat their addictions.

Program director Ellie Hanley and a staff of nine manage the center, which provides temporary housing, drug-abuse counseling and job-search assistance for about $88 a day per client. That’s less than it costs to stay in one of Galveston’s finer hotels, Hanley pointed out.

Those who come to the center first find themselves in a 35-day treatment program that includes 30 hours a week of group sessions, as well as one-on-one counseling. Eventually, the women transition to a program that includes seven to 10 hours a week of counseling while they look for work.

The program has a $380,000 annual budget.

“We have done a lot with a little for a long time,” said Hanley.

The program started as an idea of a group of church women in Texas City.

About a third of the center’s funding comes from a fundraising gala and the county’s two United Way organizations.

Waters is the first to promote donations to the United Way.

“They are making a huge investment,” she said. “They are saving lives. Not just me, but they saved my children’s lives and they are rebuilding families.”

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By the numbers

  • Alcohol Drug Abuse Women’s Center
  • Number of women helped in 2003: 111
  • Number of women helped in 2005: 153
  • Number of methamphetamine clients in 2004: 1
  • Number of methamphetamine clients in 2005: 13
  • 2005 budget: $380,000
  • Gulf Coast Center and state grants: $228,000
  • Mainland Communities United Way: $50,000
  • Galveston United Way and State Employee Charitable Campaign: $28,400

— Source: ADA Women’s Center

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