Chelsey Cain and her mother Judith shared with Solutions Journalism: Covering Addiction their personal experiences with addiction–Chelsey as an individual now in long-term recovery, and Judith as the mother of someone with a substance use disorder. Judith attributes Chelsey’s nearly eight years of recovery to an 18-month sentence she served for selling stolen firearms for drug money, combined with the familial, community, and 12-step support she received while in prison and when she was released.


Mother and daughter discuss addiction, recovery

by Erin Moran 

Judy Cain stood next to her daughter, Chelsey Cain, and asked, “Can I start?”

“I think it started in her teen years,” she began.

When Chelsey was 24, she lived at home with her mom. She’d spend hours alone in her room in the basement “like a mole” and others told Judy her daughter was using drugs, but Judy “dug [her] head in the sand.”

Finally, Judy realized that she needed to kick Chelsey out. Shortly after, Chelsey was arrested after stealing guns from the man she moved in with in order to buy drugs. Judy and Chelsey’s father refused to pay her bail.

“I think being incarcerated saved her life,” Judy said.

Chelsey was imprisoned for 18 months.

When Judy finished telling the story, Chelsey chimed in with a few corrections.

“She said ‘borrow’ her car,” Chelsey said. “I was totally stealing her car.”

Chelsey said growing up, partying was her “main priority.”

She had been using oxycontin consistently for nearly five years when she started using heroin because it was cheaper and easier to find. For the last eight months of her active addition, she said, she was using heroin and crack.

Now, Chelsey has been in recovery for seven and a half years. She regularly attends meetings and has a newfound passion for running. She works two jobs and interns at the mayor’s office. Recently, she was accepted to a criminal justice doctoral program at Temple.

“I’m learning that I am one of many that are out there doing the same thing,” she said.