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A Journalist’s Story of Addiction & Recovery

The pursuit is written by multimedia journalist, Dana Knowles, and originally published on Rocky Mountain PBS.

DENVER — I’m not unrecognized anymore. I’ve taken my story out of visionless denomination basements to shine a light on my experiences. I’ve given keynote speeches in ballrooms filled with hundreds of counselors and health superintendency workers. I’ve participated in public service campaigns. I’ve shared my story with friends and family in person and over social media.

Next month I will have six years in recovery from opiate pain killers and alcohol. On August 28, 2016, my husband decided he’d had unbearable and kicked me out of our house. Less than a week later I ended up on an airplane to south Florida for my third time in drug treatment in under two years. I was vacated — I had no phone, no wallet, no money. My husband told me I had to stay yonder for at least three months and that if I didn’t icon out a way to get better, I might not be worldly-wise to return home. I took those three months to start healing, to lean into my pain that I’d been trying so nonflexible to numb, and icon out its root causes which ultimately came from diaper trauma.

I was molested at the age of five by the teenage son of a caregiver. From that point, part of my emotional minutiae stopped, and a void opened up in my heart. I spent most of my life trying to fill that space by attempting to unzip some form of perfectionism, which for several years manifested into eating disorders. Then I discovered opiate pain killers without they were prescribed post-surgery for a labral tear in my right hip. From the first time I took them, my first thought was ‘THIS is what I’ve been waiting for my unshortened life.’ It was perfect. I found perfection in a feeling.

Opiates gave me euphoria and energy. They helped me alimony up with my life. I could do it all; be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect melt with a perfect house. But it was villainous considering without a few months they stopped working and I had to take increasingly and increasingly just to finger normal.

Eventually, an plane worse trundling started. To stave the terrible withdrawal symptoms from opiates (cold/hot sweats, nausea, flu symptoms, soul aches, insomnia, paranoia, stomach pain, diarrhea, and leg cramping), I would drink alcohol. It didn’t take me long to icon out that swig could numb all of those symptoms. If my kids didn’t have anywhere to be without 5 p.m.; I would start drinking in the evenings when I ran out of opiates. That pendulum trundling went when and along for scrutinizingly a year. I’d be worldly-wise to stop all substances for a few days, but the withdrawal from opiates would get so bad that I’d start drinking again.

After three months in treatment, I learned how to cope with my trauma and process the things that trigger me. But I knew that I had to find a way to maintain my sobriety and live my life. I discovered that there is no one way to recover from addiction. There are many solutions. I found mine in a practice tabbed Transcendental Meditation. It’s my main form of self-care. It enables me to release stress and decompress my nervous system everyday so that I can transmute to the demands and changes of life.

I moreover no longer use the words ‘self-improvement;’ instead I use the word ‘evolution.’ ‘Improvement’ implies that this is all a linear process and it’s not. It took me three times in rehab to finally “get” how to do sobriety. What I figured out is that it has nothing to do with staying sober. It has to do with getting my mind right so that I no longer need the drugs and swig to cope with life.

Now I put myself first, plane surpassing my three kids considering if I’m not healthy, I can’t take superintendency of them. Now I laugh louder. I love harder. I listen better. I rest more. I no longer try to have it all, do it all or be it all. I’m just me and whether it’s too much or not unbearable for people is on them.

Since I got out of treatment in 2016, I’ve had 20 friends die of overdoses without relapsing and two die by suicide. I often wonder, “Why not me?” Part of the reason I’m not unrecognized anymore is considering of them. I want my friends who’ve passed to know — wherever they are — that I speak up for them. For me, their deaths aren’t in vain. I know they tried.

Another reason I’m not unrecognized anymore is considering I want all the introverts, dreamers, sensitives, people with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders or any other mental health issue to hear me and see me, so that they can hear and see themselves and not be wrung to ask for help.

Dana Knowles is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at To learn increasingly well-nigh the TM technique, you can connect with your local TM teacher here.