As a survivor of addiction and with a background in healthcare, Kylee is a great new addition to our team! She has taken the role of Addiction Navigator through the groundbreaking and innovative Sanford One Care Program.
My personal struggle with addiction began as a teenager and developed rapidly throughout my twenties. I grew up, the youngest of four children in an incredibly active family. Between school and sporting events for all of us, I’m not sure how my parents managed, but they did. By the time I was 16, I had been playing in sports year round and things were becoming more and more difficult. I was working part time after school and started to hang out with a new group of people. I started smoking cigarettes and drinking on occasion, but I made sure not to get into trouble. By the end of my sophomore year, I quit all sports. I had learned what it meant to have a little bit of a social life and I liked to work. I didn’t drink much, but when I did, it was messy. Always messy.
After high school, I decided to stay in Sioux Falls and go to school at Southeast Tech to get a Business Administration Degree. I was working full time, going to school full time, and partying full time. I had this cycle of going to school for six hours a day, going straight to work for another eight hours and then partying. At 19, I graduated early with my major in business and a minor in addiction. It was infrequent that I managed a day without drinking and when I did, it was unpleasant. Fast forward through the next four years of pain, depression, and misery… At 23 years old, I ended up in my first 30 day in-patient treatment center. I managed to stay sober for 18 months, but did not maintain any sort of recovery.
Soon enough, I was drinking again and began to explore other drugs. I tried to run from my problems by moving to Las Vegas, NV when I was 24. I had family there and it made sense to just find a new routine and “control” my drinking. Unfortunately, after six months I ended up in another in-patient treatment center. I wasn’t there to learn anything, I already knew it all. Instead, I found a man. After 30 days, I flew back to Las Vegas, packed my things in my car and headed to Kansas to fall in love. I did fall in love there, with opiates and cocaine.
After three years of daily use and losing everything I had, I gave in to the idea that I was not healthy. I was without a home, a car, a job… My worldly possessions were few. My dad drove the 8 hours to Wichita and picked me up to bring me home. I was nothing more than a shell of the girl I used to be. I was broken and raw. I was scared. I went through treatment two more times that year before finally surrendering completely to allow myself to be well and stay well.
It took a lot of heart break to get to where I am today. There was a lot of letting go, giving in, and asking for help before I could begin the healing process. My life today is filled with hopes, dreams, and a future. These things were out of reach to me when I got here. I had no idea what I wanted, I just needed to change. It isn’t always a graceful or beautiful process, but I can make it through anything with the help of others.
I am currently studying to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. I have a relationship with my family again. There are people who care about me and depend on me. I am able to maintain employment, keep a roof over my head and pay my bills. Those things don’t happen by accident; they happen by working hard to maintain my recovery. Without it, I would have nothing. I enjoy running, spending time with my nieces and nephews and reading. These things are so simple, but an important part of my recovery. All I have to do today is look in the mirror to see the gift I have been given. Life.