Tuesday, May 1, 2018

We do recover by Kristen Hughes (Guest Blogger)

Hi! My name is Kristen and I am an addict.

I grew up in a small town in a small state. I had two parents who loved me and are still married to each other today. I had two brothers who teased the crap out of me – but were ready to fight if someone made me cry. I had everything you could imagine. We lived in a nice house. I went to church. I was a majorette. I studied ballet, tap, and jazz. I was in all of the community plays and at any moment, you could find me breaking out into a song or dance. I was on the honor roll every year in school. I had a lot of friends. I was THAT kid.

I don’t remember the first time I took a drink. All I know is that I was young. It was innocent – sips of my mom’s wine coolers, another sip of beer here or there. I liked the taste and I knew I wanted more. I can’t tell you when it started, but the binge drinking was in full effect once I hit my senior year in high school. I was a party girl. I liked to have fun. I loved being the center of attention and I would get drunk until I would pass out. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me that my drinking was too much. Maybe they did and I just didn’t listen. Because all I knew was that when I was drunk, I made people laugh. I was free.

I graduated high school and went off to a local university. Nothing changed when I went away, except the drinking was more accessible and more excessive. Soon enough, drugs entered the picture. It started with weed and cocaine, along with the drinking. Again – not once do I remember anyone showing concern for what I was doing. I am still wondering how I hid it so well. Looking back, my life was spiraling, but I never stopped.
Somehow, through it all, I managed to graduate and get a job. A great job. Doing what I absolutely love. I still drank and used drugs on weekends, and I’d have a crazy weeknight binge every so often. I was living a double life. I had a group of friends that knew nothing of my drug use. And I had a group of friends that only knew me as the party girl. I was able to maintain that lifestyle for a while. Yes, I had periods where I would get out of control – but always managed to get back on track - until I found heroin.
You see, I was tired of cocaine. I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I hated the paranoia, and the “upper” effect. I wanted something different, and heroin was my answer. I was 26 the first time I used heroin. Twenty six. I was a college grad. I had my own apartment. I had a great career. I had family that loved me. Friends who cared about me. I knew better – right? That’s where addiction gets you. You think it’s harmless. A few nights here and there quickly turned into a dependence like I had never experienced. When I couldn’t score I found myself sick. More sick than I had ever been. An ache so deep within my bones. I had no idea what was happening to me. My boyfriend at the time was the one who told me I was in withdrawal. All I knew was that I needed one more. I needed to get right. That was the end of my freedom as I knew it. I became a slave to the drug.
I could go into the graphic details of my drug use. I could tell you all the horrible things I did and the horrible places I went. I could explain to you how I lied, stole, and degraded myself in every way possible just to get “one more.”  I could tell you how my father found me unresponsive in a pool of blood and vomit with a needle still in my arm. I could tell you how I was in a coma, and how at the age of 27 I had to get a pacemaker because my heart suffered so much. I can tell you that even after going away to treatment, I used again. And continued to use. And every day I was killing myself.
I knew I was dying. I knew I had to get clean. But using drugs goes beyond the physical addiction. It’s a mental hold on you that is so strong. I reached out one last time for help. I called my mom. I told her I wanted to go to detox. I told her to pick me up in three hours because I had to get high one more time. Just once more. I went to detox in August of 2007. That decision saved my life. Like I said earlier, I knew I was dying, I just didn’t know how serious my condition was. The pacemaker they put in after my overdose had become infected from continued drug use, and it was - quite literally - killing me. Had I not made the decision to go to detox when I did, my doctor said I would have died.
I stayed clean for a little while. I started attending a 12 step fellowship. Life started getting good again. My family slowly trusted me. I started to find friends who shared the same recovery goals that I had. I survived the most deadly part of my addiction. But even through all of that, I used again.
My clean date is February 25, 2008. I just celebrated 10 years of recovery.
Here is where I hope you listen, and listen closely. Once you put a drug in you – it’s Russian Roulette. No one is exempt. No one. No one knows at what point they will become an addict. The reality is, I have always been an addict. It wasn’t until it manifested itself in the form of drugs that I realized it. And I am grateful. The disease of addiction has many faces. My disease has manifested itself in the form of drugs, shopping, eating, sex, gambling, exercise, lying, fantasy, and the list goes on.
But I have hope today. Today I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an aunt. I am a teacher. I am a friend. And I am an addict.
Thanks for letting me share.


This blog post was curated and/or edited by The Ardent Reader, Esther Hofknecht Curtis, BSOL, MSM-HCA. The views expressed in this blog post are those of the guest blogger. Visit www.parrotcontent.com for more information.


  1. What a horrible drug. I am so glad you were able to get away from it. Thank you for sharing this. I have seen how it destroys whole families. If your story keeps one person from using or inspires one person to stay clean imagine how many around those people are thankful too. I see you have a beautiful family and they are lucky to have you. Hold them tight! 🤗

  2. I have heard your story time and time again, I LOVE you,you are strong, you are beautiful, you were my children’s teacher, you are an inspiration, and I am proud to call you my friend, my friend an addict.

    Xoxo you are the greatest mentor and I am sure his will reach more than you know!

  3. Evelyn EckenrodeMay 1, 2018 at 5:35 PM

    Addiction is relentless. Thank you for sharing your story & being Brave enough to speak about it. Many people do NOT understand the cycle of addiction. Congratulations on staying STRONG & inspiring others who might feel hopeless.

  4. You are a warrior, and such an amazing woman! My son absolutely lived music class with Mrs. Hughes. You have a story that can and will save lives. The strength it takes to not just overcome but to talk so honest and freely is inspiring. Thank you for not giving up on yourself, thank you for being you,...thank you♡