In recovery after 20 years of addiction, Gabriella Fodor finds her life calling in helping others entering treatment.
They called themselves “Charlie’s Angels.” Three young women who learned quickly that certain assets — stunning beauty and “party girl” personalities — could buy them pretty much anything they wanted. They danced in a popular nightclub and made good money. They shopped in the best stores, rode in the best cars, and treated themselves to the best drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.
It seemed the adventure would never end. But it did, in the way so many tales from the “fast lane” end. Badly. In the years that ensued, one member of the trio, the single mother of a 4-year-old, was murdered after a hit was put out on her by a jailed drug dealer. The second, addicted to crack and prescription painkillers, committed suicide. Today, Fodor is the last “Angel.”
After more than 20 years of addiction and multiple relapses and a close-call overdose in 2015, Fodor made the trip from Colorado to enter sober living at Journey Healing Centers in Utah. In April 2016, she celebrated her first year of sobriety.
Fodor now lives in Utah, next door to the Journey drug rehabilitation center that she says saved her life. She made the move from Colorado, she said, to put some physical distance between herself and the traumatic memories of life there. Fodor is so dedicated to Journey that she recently took a job at the facility as a client relations coordinator.
“I will be indebted to Journey for the rest of my life,” Fodor said. “I cannot put into words how truly grateful I am for the tremendous amount of support I have received from Journey’s amazing staff. They know that each client’s life is on the line every day.”
A History of Early Life Trauma
Like many people with addictions, Fodor was the victim of childhood trauma. She describes her upbringing as chaotic. She was exploited by her mother’s boyfriend, wasn’t close to her mother, who too had suffered trauma when she was young, and her father had never really been a part of her life. She “blocked out” most of her childhood, she said, except for the punishing feeling that there was something wrong with her. She had come to believe that she wasn’t worthy of love.
“I carried that into all of my relationships, especially with men,” she said. “I would do anything to keep a man around no matter how bad he was to me, no matter how bad he beat me, because I didn’t have the love of my father. It all makes sense now.”
Fodor’s drug of choice over the years was opioids, but she dabbled in many, many others. They helped her forget about the abuse, like the time her boyfriend went into a “roid rage” and beat her so badly that she wound up in the hospital.
When another man, the only boyfriend she had ever truly loved, cheated on her, “that’s when I decided I wasn’t going to hold off doing ecstasy when everybody went out on the weekend. I wasn’t not going to do cocaine. I was going to try it all and do it all.”
How Fodor stayed alive long enough to get sober surprises many people, including a social worker who helped her after her near-overdose. “I can’t believe that the drugs haven’t killed you,” she recalled Nina saying. “You’ve taken a lethal combination and a lethal dose.”
A Life Saved by Treatment
Today, Fodor drinks coffee and “vapes.” “That’s all I can have,” she says with a gentle laugh. She spent 42 days in inpatient drug rehab at Journey and nine months in intensive outpatient treatment. She now has a life she never thought possible, she said.
“The day I entered Journey, I felt a deep spiritual connection with them,” she said. “Every single one of [the staff members] was there because they were extremely passionate and dedicated to each and every client.
“Through Journey, I was able to obtain a sponsor who has helped me combat the anxiety and fear that we all face after leaving treatment,” Fodor said, adding that it’s vital that people who have been addicted to substances know that there are “innumerable others out there in the real world just waiting for them with open arms. Without lifelong sober friends, recovery is not possible.”
Fodor says she has found her true calling in helping other addicts. She talks to women’s groups at Journey and also rotates into the Friday alumni meetings to tell her story of recovery.
“When I see people coming in for treatment, it is more than obvious that each and every one of them is in a fragile state,” she said. “I know because I have been there. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I didn’t die.”