The Chance to Start Over

The Chance to Start Over
By Merrily Brast
Union Gospel Mission

At the beginning of 2013, Shannon Duval was sitting in a jail cell. She had lost her children, her job, her home and her car. The truth, however, is that she was in prison long before she was arrested.
“I had used drugs in the past, and then I had three years clean and sober.” When she relapsed, her addiction escalated fast and hard. “It only took eight months before I had no control. I was a prisoner to it completely.”
Sitting in that cell with nothing, it dawned on Shannon that she was exactly where she needed to be.
“I knew that it was all for a reason, and that reason was to start over – start a new life,” she said.
A counselor from the UGM Center for Women & Children in Coeur d’Alene visited the jail while Shannon was there and described UGM’s approach to recovery.
“It wasn’t the shortest program… It was supposedly the hardest… but something just kept telling me that’s where I had to go, that’s what I had to do.”
Her time in prison became the turning point in her life—the catalyst for transformation. Her desires were changing, and her life looked different.
Shannon offers one explanation for the radical changes that have taken place in her life. “My only explanation is that Jesus is guiding me… helping me make the right decisions… I’m still the same person, but I’m like a better version of that person.”
Shannon has finished UGM Recovery. She has her children back, a job, a place of her own. That’s not to say life is easy.
“I still get thoughts of wanting to use. I still get thoughts of wanting to have ‘fun.’ I still get all those little tugs from the enemy that wants to pull me in the wrong direction.”
Nonetheless, Shannon continues saying no to her addictions because what she has now is so much better than what she had before.
“I have hope. I have love. I have a future, and really that’s what I was looking for that I could never find. That’s what matters most.”
Shannon and her children have a fresh start that would not have been possible without support from the community. To give, go to