Interview #2 Kelsie

Recorded October 29, 2019 Archived October 29, 2019 15:47 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: APP1646649


I had a talk with Kelsie about her life in substance abuse, and her journey in recovery.

Bri: “What was your pivotal moment that made you want to change your life?”

Kelsie: “So, I was 31, I had been using since I was approximately 13, and I found myself purchasing drugs where I shouldn’t have. I had my daughter with me, and my car was physically attacked, and I just realized that my life meant nothing to anyone that I was surrounding myself with. I was simply tired of the lifestyle.”

Bri: “Can you remember how/why/who you started misusing drugs/alcohol with?”

Kelsie: “It’s been a really long time. Probably the summer between 6th grade. I may have drank alcohol if I could sneak it earlier than that but I was not in a household where there would be any drugs and alcohol but the first experience I really remember is the summer between 6th grade and 7th grade, and some of the older students were out behind the school smoking pot. I wanted to hang out with them, so I smoked pot with them and I became violently sick and the school sent me home for the rest of the day. So it was definitely peer pressure from older students, and that was always a problem, with me trying to hang out with people that I shouldn’t be hanging out with.”

Bri: “Do you have any regrets?”

Kelsie: “I think that, years ago, I would have said that I don’t regret anything because everything I went through led me into who I am today. It led me to recovery, so it led me to all the friends I have, all the experiences I’ve had, the husband who I married, the job that I have, my career, the school I went to, every single good thing that’s happened to me since the age of 31 is the result of everything I did, and then getting into recovery. But, having said that, if I had 1 regret, it would be that for the first 5 years of my daughter’s life, she was with me as a using mother, and I wish even if I went through everything I went through, I wish she hadn’t had to go through it with me. So, that would be my regret.”

Bri: “How do you feel and/or think differently about drugs and alcohol now?”

Kelsie: “So, that’s also a hard question because I don’t know that I think that differently. I was raised in a household where I always knew that it was something negative, that it was something you know you shouldn’t do. There was, again, no one in my immediate family has abused alcohol or even used drugs. But, what I think is that, delusionally, they were cool, that they made me someone that everyone would like. And, of course, I’ve learned over the years that who I am is exactly who I’m supposed to be, and drugs, certainly aren’t a sign of strength or or grandioso. It really becomes a sign of weakness, that I like my life so little that I want to use a substance to change everything about who I am.”

Bri: “Do you feel that people judge you or treat you differently because of your past?”

Kelsie: “No. If anything, and I think, again, this has to do with stigma, so because I’m someone who doesn’t look like someone who’s used drugs or act like someone who used drugs, and because I carry myself in a certain way, it’s almost like it’s forgiven, like a forgiven debt that I did things and, if anything, it’s the opposite: people are often like, ‘Oh, you should be so proud of yourself.” Well, I’m only doing exactly what I should have never done so, really, living a decent life and not using drugs is not really special: it’s normal. I mean, an essay about my drug use got me into college, so, no. And I wrote another essay that got me to be Valedictorian. So it really hasn’t held any stigma personally in my life and it hasn’t done any harm.”

Bri: “Are there any people from your past or people affected who weren’t using or misusing with you, who you still speak with; don’t talk to; or wish you still did?”

Kelsie: “ said people I didn’t use with, so, like, family members?”

Bri: “Yeah, sorta like that.”

Kelsie: “Okay, so I’ve rebuild all the relationships that are important to me, with all my immediate family (mother, father, brother, sister), there was some damage done, although I didn’t live with them during my active addiction, it still affected them because they knew not only that there were some things that were very wrong, but I stayed away from them. There is no one that I used with that I have, really, any contact with any longer by choice and by simple lifestyle. When you don’t use drugs, you don’t tend to run into people that use drugs because you live two different lifestyles. And, probably the most important person to me at the time that I had to sever all ties with except passing my daughter back and forth was my ex-husband and my daughter’s father who, after 17 years, is still caught up in active addiction.

Bri: “Are you active in the community to help others stop or educate beforehand about drugs and alcohol?”

Kelsie: “So, I would say yes in two ways. One: I am a member of the Twelve Step program, so although that is a self-help group and not necessarily a ‘community group,’ anyone new coming in and trying to get help in a 12 step program, I remain active and visible in that program. So, even though I still have a sponsor myself, I sponsor other women, I’ll always try to be available to anyone, and in my professional career, I’ve worked in treatment since 2007, and now I’m what’s called a ‘treatment advocate’ for Recovery Center of America, which means I am always out in the community trying to educate people on not only substance use they may not know, but on the availability of recovery and the possibility of having a different life after drug use.”

Bri: “Have you personally suffered from any overdoses or near death experiences due to your addiction?”

Kelsie: “So, I never suffered any overdoses because, like I said, I’ve been clean for 17 years, heroin was not my drug of choice, I really didn’t really participate in any drug use that, at the time, would cause an overdose. However, the lifestyle that my drug use brought me into, the neighborhoods I would go to purchase drugs, the people I was dealing with is what led to my car being attacked. Y’know, I put myself in danger, severe danger, over and over again because of where I had to go to purchase drugs.”

Bri: “Have you lost any friends or family from drugs or alcohol and did that influence your behavior or outlook?”

Kelsie: “So, I’ve been in recovery for 17 years, and I got clean at 31. At the age of 31, I have never lost anyone to overdoses or addiction directly, that I knew of. Most people that I’ve lost in the past 17 years has been in the last 3 years, that I was fairly close with and spoke with upwards of 20, some were more acquaintances, however some were friends. I mean, it hasn’t changed my outlook because, obviously, I’ve been clean for 17 years and I believe in a lifestyle of complete abstinence. However, drug use today, because of the chemicals we’re using, and because, you know, the things that they’re adding, my perspective is much more dangerous today than it was even ten years ago, twenty years ago. So the crisis real, and people are dying. And yes, I’ve lost a lot of people to overdoses.”

Bri: “What was your home life like then and now?”

Kelsie: “In my active addiction versus today? So, in my active addiction, for the most part, I was married. I was married to another using addict prior to him. I was with another using addict. The first boyfriend I had from, I believe 17 to 25, used and sold drugs, he was a blackout alcoholic who was extremely violent when he drank, and because my own low self-esteem, I constantly thought I could fix him and help him, and as I did that, I myself became deeper into drugs and alcohol. And then I spent a short time by myself before I one again met someone else that was not only abusive, but engaged in alcohol and drug use, and that’s due to my own lifestyle. I met him in a bar because I was always in bars. I think I met him around 25 and then I was married to him until I got clean at 31, and my lifestyle with him was, and I was just thinking about this the other day, I went nowhere. I didn’t leave the state, I didn’t go on vacation, I never traveled, the relationships were abusive, and very very lonely, at least for the most part. I mean, not there there were never good times in all of those years, but for the most part, it was a very lonely existence. Today, I’m married to another recovering addict. This summer we just spent time in Europe, we were in Italy, Monteco, France, Barcelona, Spain, and we just go where we want, when we want. You know, this was our first out of the country travel, but you know, to go to Florida, to go to California, to go up to New Hampshire, or Massachusetts. And it’s safe, it I don’t surround myself with people who use, except at meetings which sometimes, not everyone there is clean, but I would say that the biggest difference in my life prior to recovery was it was very lonely, it was very empty, and it was very sad. And today, my life is very full, its fulfilling, it’s genuinely happy and I enjoy life today and that is completely different than what it used to be.”
Bri: “Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any more you’d like to share on your experiences or anything like that?”

Kelsie: “I think that for the most part, it’s so important for people to know that anyone can change. Like, there’s so many messages that have become vague, like ‘you can change your career, you can get a husband, you can travel, you can do all these sorts of things.’ But I think what happens with family is they start to believe that the person they stood by, maybe, will never change, or society as a whole see’s addiction as this moral deficiency, and that if a person uses drugs and alcohol in excess that they are just genuinely bad, and if they don’t they're genuinely good, and it’s just not that black and white. I was always a good person doing extremely bad things. And when the drugs went and I worked a program of recovery, I changed everything. And that’s not specific to me: I’m not special because I did that. People that want to change and want to get clean and take the necessary steps can, and that if you know someone that’s suffering, just don’t give up on them. That doesn’t mean you have to cosign what they do or be co-dependant or, you know, do the things we’re told not to do, like don’t give them money or take them to buy drugs. There’s a long, long laundry list of things, but don’t give up on them, because you never know when that bottom’s gonna fall out from underneath of them and they’re gonna make a different decision. And, you know, I say this quite often, one day in my whole life, one decision changed every single thing that was ever gonna come after it, like that one day I walked into a meeting and made the decision to try something different. Everything to come from that day forward changed, and that can happen for anyone. That’s it.”

Bri: “Thank you.”


  • Kelsie

Interview By