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West Michigan woman who struggled with addiction shares story of recovery
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - People across West Michigan got together for the largest celebration of recovery Saturday.
The mission of Recovery Palooza in Grand Rapids was to bring attention to substance abuse through the power of support.
One West Michigan woman shared her personal journey to recovery.
"It was an extreme experience. I'm very lucky to be alive," 30-year-old Kristin Hickok says. For her, the road to recovering from alcoholism has been a long one. While a student at Gull Lake High School, she had her first drink at 15.
"A lot of my friends had fake ID's, and I did as well, and we went to places, scouted them out and the people who were more lenient on selling us beer and wine, we would go to those stores," she says.
By the time Kristin was 19, she was a functioning alcoholic. At Western Michigan University, she maintained good grades, but was on a downward spiral after she got a DUI while driving in Kalamazoo.
"That's when I started to notice there was consequences to my actions," Hickok says. "Drinking was not always a fun time. You know jail was not fun for me."
By her mid -20s, Hickok says she was drinking a fifth-and-a-half of vodka a day, or five bottles of wine. She spent years barely able to function, many times coming close to death. "I used to have auditory hallucinations and get all the hot and cold sweats. So it wasn't a pretty time for me, but it was a reality."
Then in 2009, Hickok's family insisted she go to rehab, but she relapsed shortly after release. "And 90 days of sobriety, I thought it was a good idea to have one more drink, because most alcoholics think to have one more drink, and that turned into nine months," she says.
Then one day, Hickok says she had an epiphany.
"Looking back, I think it was a spiritual experience, I took a ferry across to South Manitou Island and detoxed myself, which was not safe, but I was very desperate at that time," Hickok remembers. "I knew I had to get away from any stores or access to alcohol."
Today, she has been sober for more than three years. She recently got engaged, and is now working for Our Hope Association in Grand Rapids, helping women in early recovery. She has this advice for teens struggling with alcohol abuse.
"Just to get yourself help, when all of a sudden you hit, 'something's changing.' You have no control over your drinking," she says.
Hickok has embraced the change in her life, and takes everyday one step at a time.
To visit Our Hope Association online, click here. There is resources there for women struggling with addiction.