- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Susanne Johnson
Karen is a person in long-term recovery and also a clinician who has worked in the field of addiction for over twenty years. She came to the Heroes in Recovery 6K run to represent the company she works for and also to personally support the cause, raise awareness for addiction, and support those who run to break the stigma.
This time around, Karen has 14 years of continuous sobriety. She already had a streak of 13 years prior to this, but went back out and had to start new after struggling two years in between. She is so glad that she made it back into recovery and sobriety, knowing that there are so many people who do not. There is no failure unless you stop trying. Karen never gave up during her phase of struggles until she reached sobriety again.
Before Karen became a professional in the addiction treatment field, she worked in broadcasting and also did clerical work. She found out in 1992 that her passion was elsewhere and she wanted to help others achieve sobriety and gain a life worth living.
While she abused alcohol only during special occasions in the early phase of her addiction, she fell straight into smoking of marijuana at the age of twelve. Her drinking problems followed only a short time after that at the young age of 14. As that was seemingly not enough, cocaine got hold of her at age 17, before she managed to enter the recovery process for the first time at age nineteen. “I had a car accident and broke several bones. That got my attention,” she says.
Karen knew all about recovery and the recovery process when she had reached her turning point. Her step-father was in recovery and she had gone to the rooms of 12-step fellowships since she was four years of age. “I was raised in meetings. I knew where to go,” states Karen. “If you sit in your bed with your body in traction, you have time to think. I was in denial until then, but there and then, I knew I had to change.”
She met her husband in the fellowship and they got married right away. It worked out for them. He now has 30 years of sobriety and they will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary this year. Her husband offered the support she needed all of these years, especially when she relapsed and had to find her way back into sobriety. “What usually gets in the way of recovery are finances or romances. My finances were a mess. He stayed sober through my craziness. He started to attend Al-Anon so he wouldn’t be tempted to kill me, and stayed by my side.”
When Karen entered treatment the second time, she also attended aftercare and submitted herself into a 12-step meeting big-time, much more than she ever had before. She really worked the steps this time, had a great sponsor and started to sponsor others as well. This and ongoing therapy were her key to success of long-term recovery. “My beliefs are an evolution for me. I’m now more into the metaphysical aspects of spirituality,” says Karen. “I am also very active in my life. After a hip replacement surgery, I can’t run any more, but I workout every day.”
Today, she is the regional director for a treatment facility. She understands with great empathy that the thought of changing one’s life can be very scary. It can be terrifying to enact such dramatic actions in life. “If you come to the end of yourself, pick up the 200 pound phone and ask for help. You are doing the right thing and you will find an incredible network of people that can help you in ways that you never even dreamed possible,” closes Karen.