Lindsey Staymates, Behavioral Health Technician Supervisor at Foundations Recovery Center in Baltimore, has been sober more than two years. But like many in long-term recovery, that success didn’t happen right away.
Staymates says she began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at age 11. Before long, her substance use progressed beyond just those substances.
“From there it took off. I didn’t know it at the time, but my life revolved around trying to get out of myself in some way, shape, or form,” she said.
During grade school, Staymates kept good grades, containing most of her substance use to the weekends. However, when she began having legal issues, she stopped smoking and drinking in order to pass urinalyses. She switched to other drugs that wouldn’t stay in her system as long.
After graduating high school, Staymates enrolled at Salisbury University, where she found companionship with those who liked to drink and party the way she did.
“I found people who drank and used like I did so I didn’t feel different,” she said. “I thought people who didn’t drink or use were strange. I needed to be around people who did what I did to justify it.”
Over the years, Staymates had three DUI arrests, landing her a stint in jail. Being part of the legal system felt like a punishment; this kept her from realizing there is another way of life, another way to enter sobriety.
After overdosing three times, Staymates said she didn’t feel like a person anymore, and was “90 pounds soaking wet.” During a stint in the Carroll County correctional system, the county offered her the chance to leave jail and enter treatment.
Staymates accepted the offer, but shortly after completing the program was back to using again. There were warrants out for her arrest, but she hid from authorities, paralyzed by fear of not being able to use. Eventually, after another overdose and arrest, Staymates surrendered.
“I was too tired to fight, too tired to run,” she said. “This time I went to rehab again. This time I followed suggestions. I went to a seven to nine-month sober living facility. I was inducted into drug court. Drug court wanted me to go into a recovery house, so I went and ended up being the house manager there for 6 months.”
After some success in sobriety, Staymates experienced a serendipitous moment following the purchase of her first car in recovery.
“One of my friends from recovery worked at Foundations and he was really excited about his new job. He texted me and said, ‘As soon as you get a car, I have a job for you.’”
Staymates received this message the very same day she purchased the car.
Since starting her position as a Behavioral Health Technician, Staymates has taken on as many responsibilities as she can. Her passion for her work landed her a promotion to BHT shift supervisor within months. Staymates believes she and her colleagues at Foundations Recovery Center go above and beyond to make their clients feel cared for.
“At Foundations, we try to make our clients comfortable,” she says. “They have nice apartments and nice houses and comfortable sitting areas. I don’t want people to feel like a shell of a human being. You are a person, you have rights. Being here is not a punishment.”
As part of her position, Staymates manages the Foundations BHT staff, although she still has plenty of interaction with Foundations clients. The most rewarding part of her job is when clients show that they trust her, and can see in her that recovery works.
“It’s when a client really wants to know how I did what I did,” she said. “They ask, ‘How are you so happy? How do you have such a positive attitude all the time?’ I get to tell them that I’m just like them. Then they have a light in their eye and think, ‘Maybe I can do this too.’”