Crescent Terry began using drugs at age 16, when reading books and climbing trees no longer worked to help her to escape from reality. Almost immediately, her drug use became a problem, but that didn’t matter to her. She had to escape. She started running with a new crowd and used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and LSD.
After barely graduating from Neff High School, in La Mirada, CA, she began attending Cypress Community College. While on vacation in Iowa after her first year of college, Crescent was raped at knifepoint during a home invasion robbery. Feeling confused and guilty after the rape, she came home to La Mirada, cut off all her hair and became a punk rocker. She began shooting heroin to numb her emotions.
After six months of heroin use, Crescent became worried that she was going to die. In an effort to clean up her act she joined the Army, but 8 months into her new career she was raped again. This time the rapist was an Army Captain, a psychiatrist, who used hypnotism on patients in order to help them quit smoking. It was during one of these sessions that the psychiatrist raped her. He had raped other women as well – hypnotizing them first, and then convincing the women that nothing had happened to them.
However, unlike the other victims, Crescent was willing to press charges, and eventually the Captain was convicted and sent to prison. Soon after, Crescent was sent to Ft. Riley, Kansas, where she began working as an emergency room medic. The army did not provide counseling to her after the rape, so Crescent began to self-medicate. Her newfound access to prescription medications became too tempting to resist. Crescent began pinching drugs from the hospital, and she continued abusing drugs throughout her career in the military.
In 1984, Crescent completed her tour of duty and was honorably discharged from the Army. She moved to Colorado and continued her drinking and drug use, despite many blackouts and health scares. Finally, in 1986, Crescent entered a rehabilitation program and got clean. She enjoyed several years of sobriety, and in 1991 gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Angela. She was able to provide for her daughter by working as a medical assistant, and for many years she stayed sober. However, in 1995, Crescent realized the army captain who had raped her was soon to be released from prison. Terrified that the man might come after her and hurt her daughter, Crescent began another spiral into addiction. First, she became hooked on diet pills; then she started using street drugs again. She went into a rapid decline, abusing alcohol, marijuana, pain pills, crack cocaine, and shooting crystal meth.
As Crescent’s daughter grew older, she and her mother began having problems in their relationship. Increasingly, Crescent was living the life of the junkie, inviting drug dealers and other unsavory people into the home. Meanwhile, Angela was going through the rebellious stages of a typical teenager. In an effort to improve their relationship, Crescent – in the haze of addiction- began offering drugs to her daughter. Soon, the two began a dysfunctional bond, based primarily on the need to get high. Angela eventually was sent to live with her father, who had battled his own addictions, but was now sober. Not wanting to recognize the extent of his daughter’s addiction, he turned a blind eye to her drug use.
In the winter of 2006, Crescent’s family staged an intervention. Angela believed that she could get her mom to go to rehab, and with the family’s encouragement she did just that. Crescent had lost everything: her daughter, jobs, a car, her home, and any shred of dignity. After a pleading and emotional call from her daughter, Crescent walked out of her apartment and into treatment.
On January 15, 2007, Crescent’s life began again when she entered the New Directions Women’s Program. At first, she didn’t like the program, and planned to exit and continue her drug use. Then, in April of 2007 Crescent attended a talent show for New Directions residents. She sang a song during the show and enjoyed the camaraderie she felt with other residents. Members of the New Directions Choir were impressed with Crescent’s voice and asked her to join them. She has been singing with the a cappella group ever since.
“It’s been vital to my recovery,” Crescent says, “we have so much fun in the choir.”
After an intensive program of 12 Step work, therapy, and rape counseling, Crescent graduated from New Directions in June of 2008.
“This is the first time ever that I’ve been able to face my past traumas without getting loaded. I have the Women’s House staff, my sponsor, my doctor, and my Higher Power to thank for that. New Direction’s saved my life.”
Just days after Crescent left New Directions, her daughter Angela entered The Phoenix House for drug rehabilitation. Angela was able to complete the program while finishing her senior year of high school – earning straight A’s in the process. Today, Angela, a freshman at Santa Monica College, once again lives with her mother, and their relationship is based on supporting each other’s sobriety. Crescent now works for the VA’s Outreach Team for the Community Care Homeless Access Center in West Los Angeles, spending time looking for other veterans who need assistance. Happy in her job and her home life, Crescent explains that she has never felt more at peace.
“I just want to be a living example for my daughter,” she says about her sobriety. “My recovery this time is all about my Higher Power. I have to be willing to sit and listen, and to practice love, patience and tolerance. I belong to something again; to New Directions, to the Choir, to my family. God loves me so much!!”