HUNTINGTON - Allison "Ally" Workman, a 26-year-old single mother of two, no longer has any trouble asking for help when she needs it as she begins her life of recovery from substance abuse.
"But I've always voiced my opinions so maybe it's easier for me than others," a smiling Workman recently said.
Workman, originally from North Carolina, moved to Huntington when she was 10. She said she has very little memory of her childhood, probably due to her drug use, but it was a "normal" childhood.
She was 16 when she started drinking and doing drugs, mainly supplied by an abusive boyfriend. It was just social, she said.
"It was not a good path I was going down," she said. "If my daughter was going down that way, I'd be mad. There were a lot of fights with my parents because of this man. When I was 17 and graduated high school, I moved out and lived with this man. I had my daughter when I was 18."
When she was 20, she moved out and into her own apartment in what she called a bad area of town.
"Everything was easily accessible," Workman said. "It was all there I don't know if it was everyday life stress, but that's when my addiction - it was every day, I had to have something. It was really bad."
She lost custody of her daughter and she entered a short-term detox program, followed by a six-month improvement plan. During those six months, she was arrested for drug possession along with another boyfriend.
She said the time in between losing her daughter and being arrested was her lowest point.
"To feel like you have nothing and you are the lowest in the world, it's really hard," she said. "Whenever you will do a drug just in the hopes of dying, that's a bad feeling."
Workman entered Cabell County's drug court in 2012. She transferred to the Kanawha County Drug Court and entered Rea of Hope recovery program in Charleston. She transferred back to Cabell County's drug court before graduating from the program in February 2014.
Drug court, she said, was challenging.
"You have all these people that most all of them have never had to deal with a struggle like that, and you are sitting across from them, and they are telling you, 'Well, you need to do this and this and this,'" Workman said. "It's like, where do I start? You've never lived like that. I was just a kid when I had my daughter. I was just a kid when I started doing drugs. I never had to be a productive member of society. I never had to be an adult. Then they reward you and give you incentives, and that helps because you think, 'Hey, I'm on the right track and if somebody else sees all this good I'm doing or how positive I'm changing, maybe I should see it too.' Then you start thinking like you are worth it."
Workman regained custody of her daughter and gave birth to her son in that time period.
But it wasn't smooth sailing. Like most addicts, Workman relapsed for a short period of time, but walked into HER Place, a women's recovery outreach center in Huntington, and asked for help. She has been sober since Jan. 29, 2015.
Workman is now working on becoming a better person, and she said drug court gave her that ability.
"(If I hadn't gone to drug court), I would have spent a minimum of four years in prison," she said. "My daughter would have no idea who I am because she was little when it all happened. She would have forgotten about me by now. I wouldn't have had my son. The only reason I had him was because I was clean. If I would not have received drug court, I would have gone to prison and came out a worse person than I had been. "
She is taking classes from Goodwill Industries in medical assisting, has straight A's and she has a strong relationship with her mother and grandmother, whom she and her two children live with.
In fact, she said if she could go back and tell her younger self one thing, it would be to listen to her mother.
"She was right about everything," Workman said.
Her life is stressful, but she is thankful for it and it motivates her.
"It's a good thing to have stress," Workman said. "If you are constantly worrying about getting somewhere on time or money to pay bills - at least I have money that's paid to somebody else. Before I was doing wrong with it. If I didn't have stress in my life, I would be off, something wouldn't be right. I just deal with it and move on and go."
While she said she doesn't know if anything would have prevented her from taking the path she did, she does think education about drugs and their effects can help. She said she plans on talking and being honest with her daughter about her own experiences.
"Communication, between kids and even teachers, I think that's really good," she said. "Just kids having someone that they trust to go to. If I would have had someone I thought I communicated well with and trusted, I probably wouldn't have made the bad decisions I did make."
She said help is out there for those who want it and are willing to ask for it.
"You can shout it from the mountain tops if you want to," she said.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter at @TaylorStuckHD.