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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

She Chose the Journey. She Chose Sobriety.

September is known as National Recovery Month to a large sector.

Not everyone knows or acknowledges it as such because, for most, talking about addiction and the journey of recovery is uncomfortable.

It is easy to turn a blind eye and ear to something that does not hit close to home. For others, it has hit not only their home, but their work as well.

Because I know how sharing stories impacts others or can make a difference to someone who is struggling, it is not uncommon for me to share that I am a mother of an addict in recovery.

Those words did not always flow so freely from my mouth because of the stigma and negativity surrounding drug use and the journey to recovery, but times change.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states, “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, and Every Community.” This I believe 100%, if not more, and let me tell you why.

At the age of 16, one of my daughters discovered getting high. What started as something insignificant, snowballed into much more. During this time, she was also working part-time after school. I can’t help but beam with pride when I look back and recall hearing her employer tell mem that “she was the most responsible addict ever.”

It is crazy to think those words make me smile, but let’s give credit where credit is due. When there were days she knew she was going to not be at work, she always found a replacement for her shift. Leaving her supervisor and coworkers short one person on a shift was never going to happen. So, although she knew what she was doing to herself, she was still trying to protect others.

Getting sober was not an easy feat. In fact, it took two short stints in a treatment facility which were both followed by relapses to make her realize she needed more help. After the second relapse, and months of feeling hopeless and helpless as parents, she hit rock bottom. Throughout those months, we never abandoned her.

Yet, we did not enable either. If she was hungry, I brought her food. If she was cold on a bench, I brought her blankets. If she needed clean clothes, I brought her clothes. It may sound cold, but we took care of her while taking care of ourselves and our other children.

The final stint in the treatment facility took a long eight months. Every Sunday I drove several hours to spend an hour with her. And then I turned around and drove home. Those drives were filled with many tears and a lot of talking to myself. The day she graduated and began that path to recovery was one of the most pride-filled days that I have ever experienced.

Did she make decisions to use? Yes, she did. But, she also made the decision to quit.

The last decade has been a journey full of ups and downs and one with multiple career changes. This week, she began a job that brought her back to doing what she loves to do – working in the mental health field. It is exciting to see the passion in her eyes and hear her ideas about her new job.

It does not matter how one gets sober or where you turn for help -- whether it is God, court-ordered help or a 12-step program. What matters is you did it, or a loved one did it. And for that, you should be proud.

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