One student’s transformation from addiction to recovery

Naomi Scott

Using hard drugs used to help one University student feel a way that she couldn’t feel on her own.

As a teenager, taking LSD could lift Kim from reality to a world where she was noticed and accepted, she said.

Kim’s first semester at the University was in spring 2001. She said university life left her feeling as she had for much of her life – invisible.

After abusing alcohol and hard drugs for more than four years, Kim became sober May 14, 2001.

Twice a week, Kim attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in which she shares her stories with those still struggling.

At the support group, Kim comes in contact with people from all walks of life – of all ethnicities, financial statuses and sexual orientations. People as young as 13 and as old as 90 meet at the group to talk about controlling their addictions.

Kim can offer her story about drug use, but not her name because the addiction support group has a policy prohibiting members from giving their full names to the press.

No one cared

Kim said she used drugs to escape feeling invisible.

From her desk in second grade watching her teacher, Kim said, she remembers being surprised when she was called on.

All her life, she felt no one noticed and no one cared, she said.

Kim said her alcoholic father always let her sip out of his beer can. By age 12, she was drinking weekly, she said.

Kim said she was “incredibly trashed” one night with a friend at age 14, when she blacked out for the first time.

Taking classes in southern metro Apple Valley High School, the blackouts continued. Kim said she began to experiment with hard drugs, such as acid, ecstasy, speed and LSD.

Kim said her life was unhappy and she longed to escape.

She said it felt as if the only time she was truly alive was when she was doing drugs.

“LSD was my drug of choice,” Kim said. “It took me to a different world than the one I lived in.”

Kim said she stayed away from cocaine and methamphetamine because the drugs “scared her.” She also said she knew her dad had had bad experiences with cocaine.

She said she most often drank Jack Daniels and smoked marijuana.

Her boyfriend taught her how to sell acid and marijuana her junior year of high school, she said. Dealing drugs provided her with a somewhat steady cash flow, yet Kim said she started stealing drugs and sleeping with people who she knew would give her drugs.

“I manipulated lots of people, and sex was the easiest way because I’m a woman and I can,” she said.

Though her high school experience centered on drugs, Kim said she still maintained a 3.5 grade point average and became a postsecondary student at the University.

“Drugs were more prevalent than water for me and my friends,” she said.

Her mom paid for her to live on campus in a residence hall in the spring semester of 2001, but Kim said she spent little time there. She brought her drug-use habits with her to college, and earned ‘C’s in her University classes.

A “huge acid binge” during the semester kept her awake for three weeks straight, she said.

One evening in April 2001, Kim sat in a Burnsville, Minn., trailer park with friends drinking a wine cooler. She said her boyfriend turned to her, put his head on her lap and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Detoxification

When Kim woke up the next morning, she said her boyfriend was flipping through the phone book to find treatment centers.

Fearing she’d lose her boyfriend if she didn’t stop using drugs, Kim decided to get sober with him, she said. Together, they threw out all their drug paraphernalia.

Kim took her last drink May 13, 2001 at a Mother’s Day gathering with her family, she said.

Treatment began. Kim said that she was on bad terms with her mom at the time and chose to stay at her boyfriend’s family’s house.

For two weeks, Kim said, she kept herself secluded in her boyfriend’s bedroom fighting piercing migraines, frequent vomiting spells and hand tremors.

She said her hands shook for six months.

Detoxification was “a miserable existence,” restricting her sight, hearing and speech, she said. She left the bedroom only to eat and use the bathroom. Her boyfriend’s mom and sister helped take care of her.

Kim said the most important day of her sobriety and the real turning point in her life came in December 2001.

Her boyfriend had relapsed once, but Kim was determined to stay sober, she said. She was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly and becoming familiar with the 12 steps and traditions of the program.

A new life

Drugs haven’t entered Kim’s body in 3 1/2 years, she said.

Kim said she will graduate next month with a journalism degree and is engaged to be married to the same boyfriend who helped her get sober.

She said she is working full time as a reporter and staff writer at a local newspaper.

Kim said she sometimes misses her life of abusing drugs and alcohol. If she started using again, though, she said she fears she doesn’t know where it would end.

A close friend of Kim’s died in September 2003 from a methamphetamine overdose. The last time she saw him was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

She doesn’t regret using drugs, saying it was inevitable.

Kim now shares her story at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“I’m so grateful for my life and the things I’ve been through,” she said. “And to be able to share it with people who’ve suffered like I have.”

Kim has found a new way to be noticed and accepted, she said.

“My solution is life instead of drugs and alcohol.”