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The Addict that Lives 'Day by Day'

Dorothie Bonfanti, a Lacey Township High School graduate, has been sober for nearly four years

Addiction is not a choice, but a disease, Dorothie Bonfanti said, a prevailing sickness that still has power even after nearly four years of sobriety.

Bonfanti took those 1,372 days one at a time — the only way an addict can reach recovery, which is never actually achieved, as it’s an ongoing battle.

The 29-year-old Lacey resident began her road to addiction at the youthful age of 13 with Percocet, a pain reliever prescribed for her Scoliosis.

“I noticed the more I took, the better I felt,” she said.

This habit continued for three months, before the prescription was no longer.

Bonfanti got drunk for the first time at 15 years old.

Then she smoked pot.

“That was really the only thing to do here in Lacey,” she said.

She continued drinking and smoking marijuana through age 22, when she was reintroduced to prescription drugs through her first husband who got hurt on the job.

It started with, “Oh, I have a headache,” and continued with her purchasing prescription drugs on the street in Lacey and Ocean Gate.

She proceeded to also use ecstasy, cocaine and crack.

In June 2009, Bonfanti left a bar drunk and high, and crashed into three parked cars. She was charged with refusal to submit to a breath test, DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and three charges involving controlled dangerous substances, she said.

“I spent a night in jail,” she said. “It was the hardest thing I had to do like that.”

Bonfanti grew up in a “good family” and was a “good kid,” despite her addiction, she said.

After the accident, her first husband left, and she spent a week trying to get into a rehab facility.

She entered the New Hope Foundation in Marlboro Township with five days of detox and 28 days of rehab.

On July 15, 2009, she was released and has been sober since.

Bonfanti says she turned to addiction because she was picked on as a kid and felt alone, even though her family and friends were there for her.

Her family had talked to her about drugs throughout her childhood. She would come home and her mother would put on television specials about the dangers of drug use.

Her parents held interventions because Bonfanti’s drinking was out of control, she said.

“I remember coming home drunk as a teen and my dad seeing me,” she said. “They tried their best. It’s hard to deal with it if you’re not an addict.”

With drugs, she made new friends and no longer felt lonely.

"I had that mentality that it would never happen to me…After that it was addiction. I couldn’t get away from it," she said. "All my "I nevers" turned into my "I dids." '

Recovery was on Bonfanti’s own time, she said. Today she continues in a 12-step program.

“I also try to give back as much as I can,” she said. Bonfanti speaks to addicts and groups about addiction. She also talks to her three children — 8, 7 and 3 years old — about her addiction. They’ve even attended meetings with her.

“They know I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict. They know it’s bad,” she said.

Bonfanti treats her addiction as if it’s a disease, she said.

“I look at it as a cancer,” she said, adding that her program, sharing her story and prayer is her medicine.

“(Sharing) helps me to remember where I don’t want to go again,” she said. “My worst day sober will always be better than my best day drunk.”

Living life continues to be a “challenge,” Bonfanti said. Drugs and alcohol were her escape.

“It’s hard to deal with life on its own terms,” she said.

It was especially hard when she returned to her Beach Boulevard home, after evacuating for Hurricane Sandy, with a tree in her house and water damage not from flooding but from rain.

“We’re still waiting to get it fixed,” she said, adding that her family is temporarily living in South Toms River.

“I’m stronger than I was four years ago,” she said. “If it happened four years ago, I couldn’t guarantee I would’ve stayed sober. I had the tools to get through it.”

Bonfanti expects the next four years to be just as challenging, she said, as she anticipates feeling similar feelings, such as sadness and heartache, that led her to addiction in the first place.

“Life for me isn’t perfect but it’s better than it was. I have to live my sobriety every day,” she said. “I live day by day. If I can just stay sober just for today, then I’ll be okay.”

Joe April 16, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Good Luck to you and stay strong!!
gettin by April 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM
This is wonderful, of course, and many more 24s to you, but including your name and photo violates the 11th tradition, "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. films." Many may not understand my post but Dorothie, you will.
Phenobarbidoll April 16, 2013 at 11:40 AM
absolutely true.
robin April 16, 2013 at 12:48 PM
we need more success stories like that... more people to come forward... get rid of the shame help the problem.... kudos to you Dorothy and good luck
Dolores Kraushaar April 16, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Good job, Dorothy. The public, the government, the insurance companies, need to be educated. Addiction is a disease. Sadly, I will be attending a viewing today. A former student of mine, a terrific young man who would be celebrating his 22nd BD in July, didn't make it. 28 days, for so many, is just not enough and that is the standard for insurance companies. You should consider writing a book about your journey. Read BROKEN by Moyers and his LONG journey with drugs and addiction. I am proud of you.
Kenny Pitman April 16, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Good article ...Proud of you kid
kristin girone April 16, 2013 at 01:18 PM
What an inspiration Dorothie maybe your story will help the still suffering alcoholic. Carry the message, so to speak. You never mentioned our program so I see no 11th step violation. Plus you just said you were there. You didn't say I was there. There was no self promotion. Just wanting to reach out your hand to others, I know you well. This is a new age, now online meetings, young people addicted so to social media they cannot be reached any other ways ect Many more 24's to you. I'm gonna keep coming back
gettin by April 16, 2013 at 01:41 PM
These traditions have been in place over 75 years for a very good reason.The story could have been told just as well minus her picture and last name, thus the self promotion, and would still help the still suffering. The traditions are WHY the 12 step programs work. Humility does not come easily to addicts and alcoholics which is partially why this tradirtion was instituted in the first place. You see many celebrities flaunt that they are attending 12 step programs and when these people pick up again, it sends a message to many that the program does not work and keeps many from ever entering the rooms and even trying. Half measures availed us nothing. It works if you work it as it is supposed to be worked. Yes, come forward, give others hope, but not with your picture and last name.
chris foster April 16, 2013 at 01:45 PM
I understand what you are sayin about the eleventh tradition and maybe the photo is for attraction cuz she looks very happy now. I too am in recovery and I never thought I would be the person I am today. Im a loving husband, father, all around happy guy. When I was caught up in active addiction I remember it could be a sunny beautiful day and thru my eyes it was gray and dreary. I hope the message spreads so we can stop losing young lives. When I was using I did anything to stay high now I put the same effort inand do anything to stay clean. Good job girl keep your head up.
chris foster April 16, 2013 at 01:48 PM
I do understand where your coming from gettinby. That was a great way of putting that.
chris foster April 16, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Anyone kno how to change your name on here?
harmony April 16, 2013 at 01:53 PM
@getting by... are you kidding me? This brave young mother chose to put her story out there and you reprimand her for it? Dorothie, I admire you! As a recovering addict with 18 yrs clean & sober I believe that sharing our stories outside of the rooms helps others in need. If just one kid (or adult) is inspired by you and chooses life over addiction, then your job is well done! I totally respect the anonymity of program, but speaking out about YOUR recovery is YOUR choice... go for it!!
kristin girone April 16, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Oh man all thses quotes from program material. Dorothie never even mentioned it. For all we know she goes to a church program like Alcoholics Victorious.
Mr otool April 16, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Know what's funny. It's funny how people down talk "addicts" before they get help and change their lives. Like when u read about "billy badass" who goes and hurts everybody he can to get that "hit" or whatever he's on, and u read about "billy" on here and everybody and their mother are talking mad shit about what and who he is but never about the addiction and find understanding like in this story. Not to many people really understand a true addiction. But only when someone actually cares to help or get help is when people actually say "oh good for you. Great, super!" Addition is hard on the mind body and Spirit. People who care can only help. So make great friends in life. Get rid of the bad ones
Lindsay Hart April 16, 2013 at 05:38 PM
In reference to the supposed tradition violation: there isn't one. If my dear Dorothie had referenced a specific fellowship, or in any way put one above the others, that would've been a violation. There are many people in this world who choose to go public about their experience. She and the interviewer did use a certain type of language which gives those of us with experience clues about where she chooses to recover, but the lay person would never pick up on that. The point of this article wasn't "You can only get clean this way!", the point of the article was to show that we can, indeed, recover. Never totally or absolutely, but that the treatment of the disease requires constant vigilance to keep at bay. It is proven to be a disease, and for Dorothie to go public, especially in the Lacey Patch, with its commenters blatant prejudice against addicts, was brave and beautiful and should be commended. I know it is in the nature of people with the disease to be negative, but I beg you all to look past the negativity and see this for what it is: her experience and the hope she may represent today to someone who needs it. We do recover. On a personal note, thank you Dorothie :-D so proud and I love you
Joe DeVona April 16, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Thank you Dorothie for sharing your story with us--If one of our kids in town is helped or saved by reading your story--JOB WELL DONE!!-Not many people would put themselves out there for all to see-You are to be commended for your openess and congratulated on your sobriety all this time-God Bless you!!Dont let anybody get u down!!
Diane Smith April 16, 2013 at 10:04 PM
@Chris foster. You just have to re-register with a different name. It's easy to do. :)
Ann Dowling April 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Greàt Job I know it must have been very dificult to get to where you are today,God Bless your higher power and you for getting you there A.D.
hopper jack April 17, 2013 at 03:58 PM
So proud of you Dorothie. And Lindsay, very nicely stated point. I love you both. You are an inspiration to me and many others.
john ramaglia April 17, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Great job Dorothie. Baby steps will still get you where you want to be. My beautiful son Matthew Charles Ramaglia committed Suicide by train on Sept 17 2007 because of his addiction to HEROIN. He was introduced to heroin at the age of 16 while attending Lacey High School. HE was a perfect young boy until he joined the club that accepts all members, the Lacey High School drug addicts club. I will spare you the hell Matt and our family went through only to end in our own personal tragedy. People move to Lacey because they want a better life for their family only to find in too many instances a bitter ending. Citizens of Lacy speak loudly to the power that turns a blind eye to the devastation that is going on every day you send your kids to school. I'm speaking about the school administrators, the police and the board of education that have ignored this problem for decades. Somebody is making a lot of money off our kids addiction. Take action. Speak out. Protect your children, Sincerely John Ramaglia
john buckley April 17, 2013 at 05:17 PM
as a person with a addiction she is right it's one day at a time. For me in the beginning it was one hour at a time. I was lucky enough to get sober after my second rehab.and have been that way for 5 years it's great to see good people put an honest story out there. We need more people like her.
Nancy Joyce, CanUHearMe April 20, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Dorothie, Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. You know I follow your posts and understand your struggle as well as a non-addict can. You have overcome so much and have pushed through some really hard times. You have been an inspiration to me that hope does exist. God Bless you always. Xoxo

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