PHOENIX — They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So to understand the joy in the photos that surround Brittany Lopez's room, you'd have to first learn about the painful journey it took to get there.
"I wasn't striving to hurt anybody," Lopez said. "I was just striving to hurt myself."
While battling substance abuse, Lopez was in and out of prison for most of her adult life. She says her addiction is why she eventually lost custody of her first daughter, who has since been adopted by another family.
"I was what I call, 'fly by night.' I didn't care whether I was going to be on this Earth for very long because the best part of me was taken," she said.
Soon, Brittany was pregnant again and back behind bars where she gave birth to another baby girl named Serenity.
Serenity was her motivation to get clean.
"I did almost a year and that was plenty of time to think. Get my head straight. Get my health straight," she said. "This is not for you Brittany, this is not."
Once she got out of prison, Lopez joined the Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center for Women and Children, a safe space to get her life back on track. Just last month, she was granted custody of her now-one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The two live in their own apartment on campus with other women and children who are recovering.
Brittany is now working to get her GED, a job, and eventually a place of her own. She says she's sharing her story so others dealing with addiction know that not all hope is lost.
“Don’t be scared to reach out for help. I had a lot of pride and didn’t think anyone understood," Lopez said. "There are people out here, people at this program, a matter of fact, that have been in your shoes and no matter how unworthy you feel of God, unworthy of God’s love, you are worthy. I’ve learned that."
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, there is a national 24-hour hotline at: 1-800-662-HELP.
You can also find more resources here.