KAT | Denver, CO

I want to help people see they can do the same thing I did. Every little success is a huge reason to celebrate.

My mother worked long hours during my childhood, and I didn’t spend much time I so badly craved with my father and stepmother. This left me feeling unwanted and meant I was spending a lot of time on my own. At the age of 12, I was out until all hours and had started trying drugs. By 17, I was homeless and had been sexually assaulted, leading to pregnancy. This situation crushed my sense of self-worth, and I started getting involved in drinking and drugs. When I had my twin daughters at 20, I tried to get my act together. But my existing medical conditions gave me access to pain medications. Between the addiction and my health, I ended up too sick to work. Prescription opioids eventually led to heroin. My situation continued to spiral over the years. I lost my children, my husband, and my house. I wanted to give up. I knew I had to stop, but I felt stuck in survival mode⁠—I needed opioids to survive.

I started committing crimes to feed my addiction. I was investigated and charged with distribution of heroin, among other charges, and was facing five years in prison. After a lot of pleading, a judge agreed to let me go to treatment instead of jail. I started in rehab and moved on to sober living, where I stayed for a year. And then the best thing happened to me. Right before my kids turned eighteen, I got custody of them again. This feeling is what led me to what I’m doing now, guiding people from the streets to recovery. I want them to feel that same feeling I felt when I started loving myself.