By Ed Runyan
Since 2010, Shandrieka Shavers has passed through the halls of the Trumbull County Courthouse quite a few times while recovering from drug addiction.
In 2010 and 2011, she was in the Trumbull County Drug Court, which meets weekly at the courthouse. She graduated from drug court in 2011 while living at Hannah’s House in Vienna Township, a yearlong Christian-based treatment program run by the Warren Family Mission.
Her story of gaining self esteem and acquiring her GED was chronicled in The Vindicator.
She stayed connected to the Family Mission’s programs after leaving Hannah’s House but relapsed and went back to the streets of Warren, her hometown.
In July 2012, she was in Teen Challenge-Detroit, a Christian-based treatment program and “doing well” again, saying her hometown is one of the toughest places for her to remain sober.
Her cycle of treatment and relapse continued a few more times through 2017, when she was arrested in Warren on a drug-possesion charge and jailed for three months.
She was in the courthouse again Thursday for sentencing in that case and was placed on probation. This time, she’s in the nine-month Christian-based treatment program called Esther Home in Liberty Township, but she is also accepted into a treatment program through the Northeast Ohio Alternative Sentencing Program, which is not Christian-based. She is likely to go there when NEOCAP has space for her.
NEOCAP’s website says its program focuses on “skill-building and cognitive restructuring through role-play and other cognitive-behavioral techniques.”
Though her trips to the courthouse are indicative of bad times in her addiction, Shavers says there have been more sober times over the past 10 years than bad.
“For the last 10 years, seven of it was in Teen Challenge or Hannah’s House or something like that,” she said.
She stayed at each of the three Teen Challenge programs in Michigan two to three years, she said.
“I just came back [to Warren] from Michigan Dec. 5, 2016. I got a job. I was doing well, but ... then I got into a relationship with a guy. He said he was in church and everything, and I don’t know how to succeed in a lot of my relationships,” she said of that relapse.
Shavers, 39, was on the streets for about six months after that, she said.
She says her relationship problems stem from “hurts and hangups” that date back to her youth “that I haven’t learned to deal with.”
“When I was just in jail these three months right before I went to Esther Home, I said, ‘God I don’t know how to do successfully any relationships. Please help me to step outside of myself and not be so prideful and accept help and accept correcting in my life so that I can learn how to be in relationships successfully and not be socially awkward.’”
Her mother, Gloria Shavers of Warren, who attended Shandrieka’s recent sentencing hearing, says she thinks her daughter has trusted people too much sometimes.
“She trusts everybody,” Gloria said. “I trust very few. And I always used to tell her, just because somebody offers you something, that don’t mean it’s free. Nothing in life is free. Anything that sounds too good to be true is too good to be true.”
As an addict who has had numerous relapses, Shandrieka said she sometimes feels guilty.
“It’s like, how many times do I have to keep doing this? But then I dig deeper and say, ‘OK, God. Help me to be able to do the next best thing, the next right thing so one day can turn into five years and five years can turn into the rest of my life.”
Michaela Lepor, house manager at Esther Home, said Shandrieka has things to learn about loving herself, but she is an asset to the facility.
“She’s great. She’s an encourager ... a mother figure and a sister figure as well.”
Lepor said the emphasis at Esther Home is love.
“We just love each other. We encourage each other. It’s like family. It’s safe.”