“It is an all-encompassing disease”

While reflecting on her daughter Chelsey’s addiction, Judith discussed the dark times when she would venture down to her basement and find “spoons with blackened edges.” Despite uncovering this evidence, Judith was in denial about Chelsey’s addiction. “I was burying my head in the sand,” Judith said. As Chelsey’s addiction took over, Judith’s close friends convinced her that she had to kick Chelsey out of the house. To Judith’s surprise, Chelsey left without a fight. Chelsey said even then, in the midst of her addiction, she knew that living in that home put her whole family in danger. “I knew I shouldn’t be there,” she said. However, this move was the beginning of Chelsey’s rapid downward spiral.

Chelsey barely knew her two new roommates. However, they all had one thing in common, heroin. Chelsey explained how her drug of choice switched from oxycontin to heroin due to cost and accessibility. Chelsey loved the ups and the downs she felt from mixing different medications. She said, “I would get too tired from heroin and wake myself up with crack.” As her addiction took over, she was not able to keep a job. So, Chelsey found other ways to make enough money to support her habit. She sold her car, and she sold her body on Craigslist. In fact, it was on Craigslist that she met Frank, her next roommate.

Chelsey stole guns from Frank, and ultimately, this offense is what landed her in jail. Chelsey reflected on the time period before she was sentenced. She started to attend 12 step meetings, which she believes was the motivating force driving her recovery. Eventually, she was was sentenced 18 to 36 months. Though her time in jail was trying, Chelsey is appreciative for this piece of her past. She thinks she needed a long time away to keep focused on her goal of staying clean and sober.

After she was released from jail, Chelsey worked hard to re-enter society. She got a job, enrolled in community college, and eventually transferred to Temple University to complete her undergraduate studies. However, her biggest priority was her devotion to 12 step meetings. Still, to this day, Chelsey places meetings as her first priority. According to Chelsey, without meetings “everything else would fall apart.” In December, Chelsey found out she was accepted into Temple’s Criminal Justice Graduate program. She is excited for the next chapter and is looking forward to paying her parents back.

About the author

Danielle Nick

Danielle Nick is a senior journalism student at Temple University. She believes traditional hard news is valuable, but incomplete. Solutions journalism, on the other hand, offers a new, exciting, and improved way to tell a story. Contact Danielle at danielle.nick@temple.edu.

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