When she was seven years old, after being regularly molested by her grandfather, Cynthia had her first drink. Over the years, she used crack cocaine, heroin, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and occasionally pills. After she entered a recovery program in 2006, she tried to stay clean but relapsed. Ultimately, she was incarcerated. She finally came to Interim House in April 2009. Now, at 38, she says "I'm two months shy of three years clean. I'm loving the recovery process. I have no excuse to ever get high again."

One of the programs at Interim House that has been especially helpful to Cynthia is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, commonly called "DBT." An advanced form of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been found effective in research studies and is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, DBT helps participants build skills that will help them to cope with stress, manage and regulate emotions, and develop more meaningful relationships.

Cynthia completed three DBT courses at Interim House, one when she was in the residential program and the other two in outpatient treatment. She says, "Each time it's more effective. It helps with my depression and my emotion. I realize at the end of the day that I used skills that have kicked in by themselves. I use my 'wise mind' making decisions on a daily basis to do the right thing."

In DBT class, participants partake in skits and role-play. They complete DBT diary cards on a daily basis that list negative thoughts along with any drugs and/or alcohol that might have been used that day. Diary cards help residents become aware of their behaviors. Over time Cynthia says she learned to become "really strong at practicing skills while something was happening, instead of being impulsive."

DBT helps Cynthia take care of herself. She says, "I wake up early at 3 a.m. and take my shower. I have to get the train by 5 to get to Interim House by 5:30. I focus on what works or my day will get thrown off. I run on Mondays and Fridays. I like to take the girls out to go running at six. I never exercised before. I'm into it because the ladies are into it- they help motivate me also." Self-soothing is another skill Cynthia has learned. She looks at stars every morning when she wakes up at 3 a.m. and takes baths with scented candles. She also takes time for herself by reading a magazine or thinking of something pleasant.

DBT has helped Cynthia in her relationships too. By controlling her impulses, Cynthia was able to deal effectively with an issue that arose with her daughter. "My daughter was in an abusive relationship. In the past I would have wanted to fight her baby's father, but I didn't do that. I thought about it, came up with a plan, talked about it to my therapist and my peers. I had a plan and a focus that worked for me. I took my daughter out to lunch and I told her about my experience with an abusive relationship. I told her how much abuse I went through and that I didn't want that for her. She realized she didn't want it either. At the end of the lunch, my daughter was crying for my help. She is no longer dependent on her baby's father. I am there for her now."

Cynthia expects to use what she has learned through DBT for the rest of her life. "I can go into my skills tool bag when something goes wrong. Weighing the pros and cons helps with how I get through any given day."