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Your Healthy Family: One in 10 Americans in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse

Posted at 7:32 AM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 09:23:01-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of people who are dying from addiction keeps rising. It says overdose deaths increased by nearly 29 percent in 2021. But three quarters of addicts recover.

Victoria Thierens has gone from being a victim to victorious.

“I have been sober for two and a half years, and it's been an incredible journey,” she said.

Her story starts in high school. She was determined to graduate early so she could become a nurse midwife. She also became a fitness coach who competed in body-building competitions, and she started a business.

"At a certain point, I felt like I was kind of just missing out on the party scene, and just exploring what life had to offer at the time,” Thierens said. “What started out as just, you know, partying a little bit here and there turned into quite a slippery slope. And I ended up getting addicted to crystal meth.”

After nearly two years of addiction, she said her life changed on November 19th, 2019. In a cry for help, she called police and was taken to a behavioral unit to have a psych evaluation. There, she found out she was four weeks pregnant with her daughter. The thought of losing her newborn and her other child wasn't something she could imagine, and gave her the motivation to make a change. From that moment on, she's had the strength to stay away from drugs.

"I knew that it was a pivotal point and that these people were here to help me, and that I had to choose to help myself,” Thierens said.

According to a study by Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry Dr. John Kelly, roughly one in ten Americans is in recovery from an alcohol or drug use disorder.

"There are about 20 to 30 million people in recovery right now in the United States,” Dr. Kelly said.

Dr. Kelly said it may take years for someone to recover from addiction, but the latest data from the CDC and National Institute on Drug Abuse shows a majority of people who battle addiction eventually recover.

“Seventy-five percent of people who experience, at some point in their life, an alcohol or other drug use disorder will achieve remission,” he said.

Thierens said her support system, healthy habits, self-care, and sharing her story have all helped on her journey. And she wants to help other people who are struggling with addiction.

"I just love being a mom, and I love really helping the world and sharing my story with the hopes of empowering other people, and just showing up as my best self and my most authentic self as often as I can,” she said.

If you are struggling with addiction, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s hot line for free 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1-800-662-HELP.