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Cady’s Story: Hope and a Happy Ending

Cady’s Story: Hope and a Happy Ending

Since 2016, Valley Health has provided grant support to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition as it sought to develop impactful programs to fight addiction and advance recovery. One of the outcomes of this collaboration was the creation of the Drug Court, a unique partnership between health care, social services, the court system, law enforcement, and others that offers resources – and a second chance -- to individuals living with addiction.

Here’s the story of one young woman who has turned her life around and is now giving hope to others through her work as a Peer Recovery Coach.

2012 was a terrible year for Cady Schaffer. Both her father and brother died unexpectedly, and the grief was overwhelming. “I was having a super hard time coping and using opiates was one way for me to numb the pain,” she said during a recent interview.

Cady began using drugs as a student at James Wood High School, and once she experienced the devastating family losses, her drug use increased and it was harder and harder to stop. She thought she had “hit bottom” when she was arrested and went to jail in 2016, but she relapsed and overdosed within three weeks. Like most who are living with a substance use disorder, she was desperate and demoralized, and figured that she’d never get clean.

“I should have died when I overdosed, but God was watching out for me,” she adds. “There happened to be an off-duty EMT nearby, who was supposed to be somewhere else that evening, and she saved my life.”

Cady was offered another chance in 2018. After her second arrest, she was given the opportunity to enroll in the local Drug Court program, funded by Frederick and Clarke counties, the City of Winchester, and Valley Health. Originally established by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, this unique collaboration between health care, social services, the court system, law enforcement, and other community stakeholders has had great success with motivated clients like Cady.

Built on the belief that our communities “can’t arrest our way out of our drug problem,” the program offers non-violent drug offenders a closely supervised probationary period, where they are given help to get and stay clean and sober. The program is rigorous, and those who choose it over jail time must meet strict requirements that include weekly urine screening tests, sober living arrangements, employment and counseling.

Cady credits the program – and her faith in God – with giving her the new start she needed to turn her life around. During her stay in a faith-based sober house, one of the conditions of her participation in Drug Court, Cady had a “spiritual awakening,” and her blessings have continued to multiply ever since.

While in the Drug Court program, she earned her Bachelor’s degree, then trained in drug counseling and became a Peer Recovery Coach. Cady now works with others seeking recovery, offering them the hope of a clean and sober life.

“The Drug Court did so many good things for me: helped me get clean from opiates, motivated me to finish my bachelor’s degree in human services and take Peer Coach training. Now I help others struggling with addiction,” Cady comments. “My time in Drug Court planted that seed of sharing my story and helping other people. And I have learned I can get through anything sober.”

Cady is now engaged to a Loudoun County firefighter and ready to begin another new chapter. “I met my fiancé at Play for Prevention, a basketball game where those in recovery play against law enforcement.” Now she’s planning a wedding, and thankful for gifts she has received in recovery: a big dose of hope along with a happy ending!