Starla started drinking at 14. From there, it was an ongoing battle with alcohol and drugs.
“I went to jail when I was 7 months pregnant with Ruby, and the district attorney wanted to revoke my one-year suspended sentence and send me to prison,” Starla said.
But Starla got an opportunity not many women with substance abuse problems receive.
She has spent the past five months getting clean and sober at Jordan's Crossing. And Friday, Starla, with her infant daughter in her arms, shook hands with Gov. Mary Fallin who congratulated her on a job well done.
Jordan's Crossing is a substance abuse treatment center in Oklahoma City that specializes in women with dependent children and pregnant or postpartum women. The center has 72 residents, which includes both women and their children.
The center provides women with chemical dependency and mental illness with therapeutic interventions and education that helps them maintain sobriety and become better parents, according to the state Mental Health Department.
Mental health advocates say addiction is one of the most pressing and devastating public health problems facing Oklahoma.
For the past several years, Oklahoma has held the highest female incarceration rate in the nation.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday that places like Jordan's Crossing offer a safe environment where women can find recovery and teach their children a better way of life.
Fallin said she understood that many of the women at the facility came from tough situations.
“There are times when people run into challenges with substance abuse and addiction,” she said. “It crosses all lines of families in Oklahoma, too, and this is a place where you can come and get that much-needed treatment instead of having to go into one of our correctional facilities and to get the help you truly need to get back on your feet.”
When Fallin entered office, she asked the Legislature for more money for substance abuse treatment.
In 2011, Fallin dedicated $3 million to the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to increase the number of women receiving addiction treatment. A major renovation of Jordan's Crossing was paid for with some of that funding.
In Oklahoma, there are five facilities that contract with the state Mental Health Department to treat women with dependent children, according to the department.
There is a waiting list of 500 women waiting to get into one of these types of facilities.