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I was 8 or 9 the first time I drank anything. I grew up with alcohol and other drugs just kind of around. So it was kind of normal in our family. So by the time I was 12 or 13, I was smoking pot and drinking. When I was 14, I made it a daily thing to smoke pot. I would drink on the weekends, use pot on the weekends, started using cocaine on the weekend. At the same time I was able to be a straight A student in school. My junior year in high school, I was able to do post-secondary, and to go to UC Clermont full time. I was making the Dean’s List and using drugs. So I thought, there’s definitely not a problem here.

So that reinforced me to continue doing what I was doing. I finished high school, and then I dropped out of college. I decided that it was better that I just work. I could pay for gasoline in my car and whatever I wanted to buy as far as drugs go. It got pretty much unmanageable by August of 2008.

There was an incident at my house where the cops kicked in my door. I was charged with multiple charges. I looked at it like “everybody gets charges” because all the people I hung out with got charges.

So I was forced by my family to go to treatment. I was clean for 93 days and on the 93rd day I celebrated by going to get drunk. I went back out for about 8 months after that. In that 8 months, I was kicked out of both parents’ homes. I wasn’t able to keep insurance or pay rent so I was just kind of skating by until an eviction happened.

Pretty much all the things I said I would never do, I did.

It was on June 23, 2009, I woke up at the Mercy psych unit. And that’s when I said “something’s gotta change.”

I told myself I would never let myself get to this point … and I did. People talk about this moment of clarity that you have, an “aha!” moment. And that was my “aha!” moment.

The day I got out of Mercy, I went to 93 12-step meetings in 90 days. Because that’s what someone told me to do. I kept listening to what people suggested to me to do and if someone said there is a good possibility it will keep you sober, I did it. And, at a certain point in time, I said, this isn’t enough, I need to do something else. And that’s when I decided to go back to school.

I finished my bachelor’s degree in psychology, and I went on to get my master’s degree in clinical health counseling and I went on to get a certificate in substance abuse counseling as well.

And I realized that if I surround myself with family who know what happened and where I’m at, and I surround myself with friends who know what happened and where I’m at, and I surround myself with work that’s going to be recovery-related, and I surround myself with meetings that are recovery-related, the odds are, if I start slacking in one area, someone’s gonna catch it before I do and call me out on my b.s.  And so far, that has worked.

And since June 23, 2009, I have stayed clean and sober. I was in recovery before I was legally allowed to drink.

What is your message to others?
​What I would say to other people: There is a sense of humility I had to find in recovery. When I was in active addiction, I used to think “I got this.” I knew everything that was going on, and you couldn’t tell me anything. Whenever I finally decided to surrender and give up, that’s when things started happening for me. I took suggestions. I went with the flow because I knew that was I was doing was not working anymore.

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Jessica has been sober since June 23, 2009. 
Jessica, 28, lives in Batavia. She went to Goshen High School. She is a counselor/case manager and recovery coach at Clermont Recovery Center.