Stories of Hope
Addiction can sometimes feel hopeless for those struggling with the disease, and for their families and loved ones. These stories speak to the overwhelming challenges of addiction—and offer hope for healing and recovery. They are the stories of our neighbors in the Spokane community, told with immense courage, with the hope of encouraging others in their fight. We are in this together.
Every day is a new opportunity.
My senior year in high school radically changed my life – but not for the better.
A group of friends began experimenting with opioids. I wasn’t familiar with Percocet and Oxycontin, but I started taking them anyway. Opioids were everywhere and easy to get.
After a couple of months of regular use, I started feeling ill. My palms were sweating.
I went through depression. My friends told me, ‘You’re withdrawing.’ I wasn’t familiar with this feeling, so I tried quitting the drugs. But I couldn’t.
My life spiraled out of control. It revolved exclusively around opioids. I only wanted more. I spent over $100 daily on illicit drugs and sold off all my stuff to buy more. I eventually dropped out of high school.
I ruined several relationships, couldn’t hold a job, and withdrew from everyone and
everything. It came to the point where my mom finally had to kick me out of the house. That’s when I hit rock bottom.
I ended up homeless with the occasional couch to sleep on for the next five years. While on the streets, I couldn’t gain clarity. My mind was foggy; everything was a blur. I tried quitting but ended up calling the wrong people. All I could think about was my next high.
I went in and out of rehab several times. Then I found Calvary Addiction Center, a Christian-based rehab facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
I hadn’t been there long when the Pastor asked me to lead the bible study sessions. I was surprised and asked, ‘You want me to do this? I just came off the streets, and you want me to lead the program?’ He insisted. Leading that program gave me a sense of leadership I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I ended up moving in with my grandparents after I completed the program. My grandfather is a great man. He helped me set my priorities.
I got a job as a general laborer at a commercial landscaping company making $8 an hour in the same single-family HOA community five days a week. I took Vivitrol, an opioid blocker, for three months. After a while, I realized some time had gone by. I was putting in the work and was beginning to turn my life around.
I worked hard, earned a promotion to Crew Leader, and ran multiple divisions for that company. Eventually, I took a job with a new company as their Field Supervisor and was promoted to Director of Field Operations. After a couple of years, I got my contractor’s license and started a commercial landscaping company in 2019.
My grandfather owned a large commercial landscape company for over 30 years. So, as a kid, I wanted to be a business owner. But when I struggled with my addiction, I thought I would never become that person.
Now I’m a third-generation landscaper here in the valley. It’s been a humbling journey. I have ten full-time and five part-time employees. I remember our first contract for $300. Today we’re doing close to $100,000 a month.
Faith played a significant role in my recovery. I attend church regularly and even became a worship leader. I always go back to Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” and to Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’
Owning my own business allowed me to return to my passion, racing, about three years ago. I’ve gotten the opportunity to get behind the wheel of micros, midgets, sprint cars, and stock cars. I’m thankful and excited to be racing again. I’ve been building a midget race car over the past six months and will compete in the full schedule this year.
Now each day, I wake up remembering I must work on myself. If I start opioids again, that could be the last. I might not come out of it next time.
If I could pass on one thing I learned, it’s not to be afraid to reach out for help. It’s important to plug into a community that has gone through what you’re going through. Every day is a new opportunity.
A Journey of Change Through A Life of Hope
I came from a family where drinking was a normal occurrence and my family socialized by drinking alcohol. My mother was an alcoholic and misused variety of prescribed and non-prescribed medications. At a very young age I was offered a beer, I didn’t like the taste, but I love the feeling. This feeling of numbness leads me down my own path of misusing alcohol and other substances. By the time I was in middle school I experimented with marijauna & hard liquor. In 1997 my senior year in High School I made the choice to drive under the influence I crashed my car which I ended up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury that left me with suffering from seizures and migraines. Not too long after I graduated from High School, I was prescribed oxycodone’s once again I found that feeling of numbness. I became addicted to oxycodone as well as meth.
I struggled with my drug misuse for many years until one day in 2005 I sat down on my couch and could not feel my left arm or side of my face. My father who to this day I call my hero rushed me to the hospital. Which I am glad he did because I found out at the young age of 27 years old, I suffered a stroke. This event really scared me, and I realized that the only person who could change my future was me.
When I was recovering from my stroke in the hospital, I had a wonderful nurse who took care of me. Each day she would greet me by saying “Today is a new day for a new beginning” this quote really struck a chord with me. After I left the hospital, I was determined to stay clean & sober. I found hope in my small support system (my dad, husband, daughter, sister & few friends). After losing my mother in 2008 from her own struggles with substance misuse I found hope in knowing she was able to see me live a clean & sober life.
Today I have been clean & sober going on 17 years, I have dedicated my life to help those who are struggling with drug misuse. I am all about prevention and especially helping our youth to find healthy ways to deal with stress & anxiety. I furthered my education by obtaining my bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology and have numerous certificates in treatment & prevention. I work in the prevention world by educating our youth and community members on the effects of marijauna, vaping, nicotine, and other substances.
I learned through my struggles of drug misuse the reason why I was always chasing the feeling of numbness was to deal with heartache & pain I suffered as a young girl. Once I stop chasing that feeling of numbness, I found the true me. My message to all those who are struggling with substance misuse you are loved; you are worthy and remember “Today is a new day for a new beginning”
Hope Begets Hope
In 2010 I got an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity to leave the prison I became entrapped in. Methamphetamines. For those last 10 years I had become a gang banging, womanizing, Methamphetamines addict with no other goal then to get what's next for me.
This life was empty and unfulfilling, until one day. One day I was asked do you want help and in that moment a feeling deep inside began to take root. That feeling was HOPE!
Due to that hope I was able to go through a program called Adult & Teen Challenge in Spokane, WA. This program help me get rooted in my faith and learn what it means to be a man. More than anything my heart grew so much I was able to now hold compassion for others who were just like me and beyond.
I am now celebrating 13 years of sobriety and abstinence. I have a wife, 4 children and a 1-year-old puppy. Over the years I have been able to mentor, share my story, impact the next generation and present hope to those who are hopeless. That is my WHY! in life. To bring hope to those who are hopeless. I am now a Certified Peer Counselor and a FCS Housing and Employment Specialist for Revive Counseling Spokane, PLLC.
One thing I would like to pass on to others who may read this is, "No matter how bad today is,
there's always tomorrow"
Wrestling with Addiction
December 28th, 2020, was the worst birthday I ever had. Mind you growing up poor in a very dysfunctional house; I had birthdays where I received I.O. U’s, had parties where no-one showed up, and even ones where I was recipient of domestic abuse from my father. Yet this day stood out from all the others as all the years of trauma had become too much for me to bear. It had been six plus years since I had found my mothers dead body in my childhood room in a condition I shutter to share. That day after having a couple years of recovery under my belt I ran to relapse and began the spiral that led me to where I was on this birthday. Smoking and injecting copious amounts of meth withering in the agony of withdrawal from my heroin dependency on top of the side effects of cotton fever, had me in very rough shape. I spent the whole day begging, bartering, and propositioning anyone who’d engage with me to get my fix. The day dragged slowly as plan after plan fell through and at one point, I told myself, “I don’t want this on my 35th birthday.” By nights end I was well, loaded and on my way to the casino to waste the money I’d finally hustled up ensuring I’d wake up with a rinse and a strong sense of regret to do it again.
On February 4th, 2021, shortly after midnight a surging pain began to hit my back. As the hours passed my breathing became more labored and I was confident that a dislocated rib had become more and more problematic. Thankfully for me my street aunt lived across the courtyard, and I made the decision to seek a safe space. The next thing I knew I was in the emergency room where I managed to use their bathroom to inject my last shot of heroin before being escorted to a bed. My addict brain convinced me a shot would ease the pain, but it did the exact opposite causing me to rive in pain groaning louder and louder. I wasn’t expected to live as I was severely sick, diagnosed with endocarditis (an infection in my heart from i.v. drug use), I had mersa, pneumonia, hepatitis C, and I’d gone septic. I had a pick line inserted to dose me with the strongest antibiotics and was fighting for my life. An advocate of the hospital came in to discuss insurance and asked me point blank, “If…if you live, do you want to get help?” I finally decided it was time. I had grown tired of the life I was living; I knew I was better than how I was living but needed any ounce of hope that I could do it.
As I began to rebound, and my health improved the help I said I’d accept came in the form of inpatient treatment at Sun Ray Court. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there but I knew I wanted to give this my best effort. During my stay I saw the qualities in myself that could bring out the best in others. I learned the bravery in allowing yourself to be vulnerable in order to heal and to advocate to others in failed experiences to never stop asking for help.
While in the hospital I was prescribed suboxone. It acted as my shield to protect me from bad decisions or impulsive self-destruction. I do not know if I could have stayed clean during this last year plus without this form of medically assisted treatment.
After treatment getting engaged with services was difficult with barriers like not having an identification card and waiting lists. Then, the opportunity presented itself for me to take a Peer Coach training with the opportunity to empower others in my recovery. The services I found at Peer Spokane gave me a second chance at life. I knew Peer Spokane was where I wanted to be.
As I write this essay, I do so inside my office at Peer Spokane, where I work as the Volunteer Coordinator and as a Peer Support Specialist. I facilitate multiple groups throughout the week and am even starting a new group that is for those who are on medically assisted treatment as I’m a huge advocate for such programs. I also work with individuals whom are homeless, suffering from co-occurring issues whether it be mental health or addiction.
In recovery I’ve found myself as a leader, but I haven’t forgotten being a follower in addiction. My biggest reward is running into people I knew when I was the dope man, the junky, or the homeless burden and to see that light bulb go off when they see recovery is possible. At Peer Spokane I’ve found a sense of family and community that I have always yearned for and the opportunity to help others wrestle with their addiction.
It didn’t matter how many times I told myself I would never turn to substances to escape my reality, I could not escape the demons of addiction, even from a young age. As a fourth generation foster youth and white passing person with indigenous roots, I was born into a cycle of trauma that runs thick with abuse, addiction, and dysfunction. My biological mother had her first drug induced heart attack at the age of 17. She gave birth to me shortly after. I was her second child of many, each with our own story of struggle. I was premature, born addicted to whatever substances that she could find to escape her current hell. I was adopted into an even further cycle of dysfunction.
As a symptom of these experiences, I started misusing alcohol and substances at the age of 12. I was arrested for the first time at a 11, which began an even further battle with the legal system. I struggled off and on as a youth, often using during times of high stress and trauma for me. After losing my child in 2014, I started misusing heavy substances and prescription medication, which furthered my spiral of darkness. I began selling drugs to pay for my habit and would often go without basic needs to fuel my spiral. In 2017, I left an abusive ex-husband and once again faced homelessness.
It was incredibly difficult to go through that on my own and I went even deeper into my depression and suicidal ideation. In 2018, I began working security for events and met my life partner who showed me that even though life was hard, I wasn’t alone. He is one of the first people to walk into my life and show me I am worthy of unconditional love. He is a big part of my recovery journey and inspired me to find a path of recovery on my own. He has encouraged and supported me while I have worked hard to build a life I want to live.
In 2019, I sustained an on-the-job injury and it has significantly impacted my ability to provide for myself and move forward with some of my dreams of stability. After the pandemic hit, I sunk further into a state of depression. I reached out to Peer Spokane after a good friend suggested it to me. Working with Peer Spokane has completely changed my life. My peer coach worked with me on breaking down the barriers I faced while supporting me to move further in my own path of recovery.
Since working with her, I have completed the training to become a Recovery Coach, Group Facilitator and Certified Peer Specialist. I facilitate two support groups per week for Women in Recovery in the Spokane community. I also facilitate a grief support group as well as a mental health-art focused support group every week. In addition to support groups, I teach classes and even have the privilege and honor to work one-on-one with others and walk alongside them in their own journeys of recovery.
I appreciate the opportunities that I have to invest my time into my community by serving on the board for a few different community-based organizations. I am extremely humbled and grateful to be where I am at in my journey and work to fight through my hard days. I look forward to returning to the workforce after obtaining further education and retraining to learn, utilize, and apply these necessary skills to foster seeds of hope and resilience within my own community gardens.
“And there were times that I couldn’t pick myself back up, moments I’d lie there and bleed, praying to end my survival. There were days my heart was in so much pain, my lungs couldn’t breathe under the weight. My knees still shake. There were nights the stars were too bright, life was too much, and I wanted to just stop trying. There were moments I felt like dying. How did I make it? How did I get here? I don’t know. I truly don’t. If I gave any other answer, I’d be lying.”
- Grace Durbin, How I Survived It
Kim Andresen is a survivor.
She’s battled drug addiction, homelessness, an abusive marriage, and chronic health issues.
Her powerful story ignited a passion for helping others fight addiction. That passion led to her joining the Rayce Rudeen Foundation in July 2022 as its new Executive Assistant.
“I was looking for a job that made a difference,” Andresen said. “This is the first time my career aligns with my passion.”
Andresen helps with the daily operation of the Foundation and its outreach, including organizing the Fall Family Fest held in October.
“It’s hard to give a job description because every day is different,” Andresen said. “Which is one of the things I love about working here.”
Andresen’s journey to addiction began at age 12. Unable to determine the cause of her chronic pain, medical professionals prescribed Tylenol with codeine. Doctors resorted to prescribing more potent painkillers as the years progressed with no diagnosis. By the time she was 16, she had become addicted to oxycodone.
“Doctors were tired of looking for what was causing my pain, so they diagnosed me with fibromyalgia,” Andresen said. “Which gives them carte blanche to throw painkillers at the symptoms.”
Her addiction led to an abusive marriage and homelessness. Her ex-husband’s abuse forced the couple from their home in California to the cold streets of Ohio.
“My ex-husband got us kicked out of every homeless shelter,” Andresen said. “He wasn’t a good man.
“It was pretty bad for a while,” she added. “You learn quickly how not to victimize yourself. You become thankful for the struggles. If I hadn’t experienced what I experienced, I wouldn’t be as motivated as I am now.”
Andresen quit drugs immediately after finding out she was pregnant. She got help by attending trauma recovery classes at a local church.
“That was the last day I abused any drug,” said Andresen. “At that point, it’s no longer about you.”
After her ex-husband left, Andresen worked three jobs and got off the streets. She moved to Spokane in 2016 to be close to her family.
“I wanted to build a life for my son,” Andresen said. “One where he was safe.”
Andresen, who has a passion for singing, went on to earn a degree in music. Over the years, she taught children to sing as a private instructor and preschool teacher. Now no longer teaching, she writes and records music.
In addition to music, Andresen loves to spend time reading to her son and expressing her creativity through diverse hobbies.