Gabi was raised by her grandpa and grandma, Barry and Carole Martin of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Things were pretty good for the Martin family, until Gabi's teen years between the ages of 16 and 20 when she seemed to be hanging out with the wrong friends and becoming more secretive. But what was Gabi's secret? Barry and Carole felt powerless as to what it could be and what to do.
The Martins knew they had to do something in the vein of tough love when Gabi resorted to stealing $8,000 worth of Carole's jewelry.
Neither Barry nor Carole wanted to punish their granddaughter for stealing from them, but they knew they had to involve law enforcement themselves before Gabi escalated into worse criminal behavior. Barry had been a police officer himself for 37 years. He suspected Gabi was maybe involved with drugs like marijuana but he still didn't know Gabi's secret that she'd kept from him.
Like many teens, Gabi at 16 had only wanted to dabble in drugs like marijuana to fit in with her friends. But also like with many others, pot led to prescription pill abuse which then led Gabi to heroin. Gabi had managed to keep the secret that she was a heroin addict from age 16 to 20 from her grandparents. So when they found out Gabi had overdosed on a street corner in Cincinnati at the age of 20 (the city being not far from Fort Mitchell), both grandparents were completely shocked!
Grandpa and Grandma Martin didn't give up on Gabi. They kept helping her get into rehabs even though repeated attempts hadn't worked. Gabi had gone back to using heroin, had dropped out of both college and beauty school and was only dedicated to finding her next fix of heroin.
Deaths from heroin were increasing by an incredible 300% between 2007 and 2012 in Ohio where Gabi overdosed. The Martins knew Gabi could easily become a statistic if she didn't get the right help to get off heroin and stay clean.
As if stealing her grandmother's jewelry wasn't bad enough, Gabi's drug addiction led to other out of control behavior, including ruining an apartment, giving away her grandparents' car and even stealing from drug dealers.
Gabi's story is an inspiration to families affected by drug addiction because it shows that tough love and never giving up can pay off. When outpatient treatment didn't work, the Martins opted for longer, in-house treatment. When Gabi came home from treatment clean, Grandpa and Grandma Martin welcomed her with open arms.
All weddings are happy times, but after Gabi's struggle it was especially sweet for Grandpa Martin to be able to dance with her at her wedding. He got to see his once troubled, addicted granddaughter now healthy, happy and ready to begin her new life.