July 30, 2021 – The daughter of a minister and a nurse, Johnson said her parents raised her lovingly and with good morals. But molestation that started when she was only 4, she said, at the hands of a now deceased, distant family member, made her feel broken.

“When I put the drug in me, it helped me to become somebody else. It helped me escape how I really felt about me on the inside,” Johnson said.

She kept trying rehab, but she wasn’t all in.

“I knew I wasn’t done, but to appear that I was done to whoever was forcing me to go. But I knew I wasn’t finished. It was basically like a rest stop,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to say I didn’t get anything from those 21 times, because I did. I just wasn’t ready.”

Then, her father whom she adored became gravely ill. She swore to him she would finally stop using.

“He said he wouldn’t be able to rest if he left me here like that. So, I made the promise and I kept it. I knew he only wanted the best for me. He wanted me to be whole,” Johnson said.

“She was real humble, like a broken spirit,” said peer recovery specialist Donald Bower.

Bower was on duty at the Gaudenzia Recovery Center in Park Heights in 2018 when Johnson tried rehab the 22nd time. It was something he could relate to, recovering from addiction himself.

“I lost count of the attempts I made to try to be successful. I just lost count. I commend Iona when she has the exact number. I just lost count,” he said.


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