Celebrating Recovery: Vanessa’s Story

“Recovery is an everyday process I need to do for the rest of my life.” – Vanessa Lyle 

Vanessa Lyle, Tuerk House

Vanessa Lyle’s story of recovery begins at the age of 13 when she first began using marijuana. Growing up in Baltimore, she was the only girl in her family. She wanted to feel like she fit in and spent time with the older kids in her community. 

When she was 15 years old, Vanessa had a bad experience at a concert with marijuana that had been laced with PCP. At this point, she says her addiction began to progress. It led her to using other drugs, first cocaine and then heroin, and selling and distributing. 

Vanessa shares, “I started to use heroin, and that’s when things became really dark.” 

Finding Help 

Vanessa’s journey to finding help ultimately began when she became pregnant in her early 20s. She had been in substance use disorder treatment before, beginning with a program at Tuerk House, a recovery center in West Baltimore. But it wasn’t until this time that she says she wanted to get help for herself and her family.  

She stopped using substances completely and participated in a program offered by Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center – Center for Addiction and Pregnancy (CAP). She carried the pregnancy nearly to term, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She continued in her recovery, an experience filled with successes and setbacks. She participated in recovery programs and medication assisted treatment, relapsed at times, experienced a brain aneurysm resulting from her substance use disorder, and finally, detoxed herself from methodone. 

Vanessa is often asked “how did you get through this?” She says there are many things that helped her recovery, most important being prayer and the desire to be there for her children. 

Vanessa also found help through participating in peer recovery groups, including Narcotics Anonymous. She says that her sponsor and peers could understand what she was going through in ways that her family could not. The peer groups helped her see that she was not alone. 

Helping Others 

Peer support was so instrumental that Vanessa began volunteering as a facilitator of the alumni peer support group at Tuerk House. She volunteered on Thanksgivings at Tuerk House, knowing that there would be people who needed somewhere to go and those early in recovery who were learning to cope around the holidays. “I want to make sure doors are open to those who need support,” Vanessa says. 

When a job opened at the Tuerk House, Vanessa jumped at the opportunity. When she didn’t hear back, she found the Clinical Director while volunteering at the center. She told her “This place was the very first place that introduced me to saving my life. I have endured so much, and I know I will be a great asset to helping others facing addiction and substance use disorders.”  

She got the job and has held numerous roles since starting work as an employee of Tuerk House in 2010. She began as a program assistant, and later worked at the front desk and in the billing department. For several years now, she has been leading a team in the billing department.  

Vanessa is one among many on the Tuerk House staff who have lived experience. “It is vital for me to work at Tuerk House. I believe I went through what I went through to give others the hope to want to live a day at a time.”  

The Meaning of Recovery 

Today, because of recovery, Vanessa is a home owner, started her own business, and has been happily married for 24 years. She loves reading, being an active member of her church community, and getting out on the water on a canoe or boat and meditating. She has reconnected with her family and her 4 children, all adults now, and enjoys taking care of her grandson. Rebuilding relationships was a part of her recovery journey, and required patience, giving time for her children to heal, and demonstrating to her loved ones her new life in recovery. 

“Recovery means to me an ongoing journey of life. It is the work that I put in to remain a productive member of the community. I have to continue to pray every day. It’s a new way of life.” 

About Tuerk House 

HealthCare Access Maryland is proud to partner with Tuerk House. Tuerk House is a substance use disorder treatment center in West Baltimore with an acute care unit, and outpatient and residential treatment services. Tuerk House is available 24/7 to support individuals through recovery from addiction and substance use disorders. 

To learn more about Tuerk House services, visit www.tuerkhouse.org or call 410-233-0684. 

About Here2Help Hotline  


The Here2Help Hotline provides free, confidential advice and emotional support and is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Trained mental health specialists are available to listen and connect you or a loved one to mental health and substance use disorder services. 

The Here2Help Hotline is a partnership between HealthCare Access Maryland, Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. and Behavioral Health System Baltimore. 

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