When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
How does a person overcome dropping out of school, substance abuse, and a mountain of trouble? Tiffany talks about how she has turned her life around. She chose life and recovery. Her infectious optimism and determination are the foundations of her recovery, If you are concerned about your use, you can call: 262-564-6611. You can also find AA meetings here: https://mtg.area75.org/meetings.html?dist=7 and NA meetings here: https://namilwaukee.org/meetings/
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Music]
[00:00:12] Mike: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, the series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. You know, we've had a number of guests who have been willing to share their recovery journey. And a short time back Tiffany shared her story since she was newer in recovery and still in the process of resolving some of her issues. We wanted to do an update to see how it's going for. So welcome back Tiffany.
[00:00:38] Tiffany: Hey, Mike, thanks good to be here.
[00:00:40] Mike: Well, I'm so glad you're here. Now not everybody listens to every one and I have no idea why not, but for those people who are new to this one . Let's just do a short recap. How long has it been that you've been in recovery now?
[00:00:56] Tiffany: Um, well, I have been completely sober for 14 months.
[00:01:03] Mike: That's fantastic.
[00:01:04] Tiffany: I had been, uh, I was giving recovery, uh, a shot for about a year before that.
[00:01:12] Mike: Okay. All right. Well that's the way it goes. Right. And, and your drug of choice, as I recall, where you were taking some stimulant medicines, right?
[00:01:19] Tiffany: Yes, Adderall. Well, any stimulant really. [laugh]
[00:01:23] But yeah, there was no preference.
[00:01:26] Mike: You know, I didn't ask you this. I think the last time was stimulants, but can I ask you if you smoke or vape?
[00:01:32] Tiffany: I do smoke. Yes.
[00:01:33] Mike: Does nicotine give you at all a kick?
[00:01:36] Tiffany: No.
[00:01:37] Mike: No.
[00:01:38] Tiffany: I guess in a way it must, or I wouldn't do it. Um, but I think it's just the addiction to the nicotine at that point, you know?
[00:01:44] Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Well, you know, it's a, it's a stimulant, but a mild one, so.
[00:01:49] Tiffany: I did not know that.
[00:01:51] Mike: Yeah. And you're in drug corp, right. Or were?
[00:01:54] Tiffany: Were. I finished.
[00:01:56] Mike: Wow! Good for you. When did you finish?
[00:02:00] Tiffany: I graduated on March 23rd officially.
[00:02:03] Mike: Okay. So it was just before that, I think that we chatted.
[00:02:06] Tiffany: Ya, well, actually it was last year.
[00:02:10] Mike: Really? God time flys. Since winter last nine months, you know, it all seems to save.
[00:02:18] Tiffany: Yeah, I was, um, I want to say it was August.
[00:02:25] Mike: Wow. Wow. So what was the celebration like when you, uh, graduated?
[00:02:29] Tiffany: It was nice and intimate. Um, I just, I didn't want anything real big. Um, when I first got into drug corp, it's funny how your feelings change when we first got in I'm like, I can't wait till I finish. I'm going to newspaper. I'm going to show everybody. And by the time I was done, I was just happy to have the people I was closest to there to celebrate, you know, the end of something. That was really my beginning.
[00:02:57] Mike: Was it, was it weird to celebrate, um, without anything in your system whatsoever?
[00:03:02] Tiffany: No, I've been celebrating, [inaudible] since I've been in sobriety. So no, it wasn't actually.
[00:03:08] Mike: So just, it was that feeling of accomplishment.
[00:03:10] Tiffany: Ya, for sure.
[00:03:13] For quite some time I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. [laugh]
[00:03:18] Mike: I've heard that story from a lot of people, but you know what, a lot of the folks who completed the program, there were a lot of fits and starts. Um, but you know, they seemed so solid when they get out of there.
[00:03:30] Tiffany: Well, you had to, I think you have to maintain your solidarity, you know, um, uh, they lay the foundation and the groundwork and they give you the tools and they gave me the people, places and things to have to go to, shall I need them. And, and I just think you have to find a way to maintain that [inaudible].
[00:03:53] Mike: Yeah. I have to tell you that the last time we talked, I got a lot of people, uh, after they heard your thing, I got asked routinely, how's she doing? How's she doing? So you must've connected with folks out there somewhat. They were really pulling for you.
[00:04:10] Tiffany: That's cool. I'm so happy. I did. Yeah. And I've been doing great.
[00:04:14] Um, Uh, things are going well. I mean, I can't complain, you know, I have the regular hiccups, like everyone else, but that's just regular life.
[00:04:21] Mike: Well, the last time we talked, you were looking for work. How'd that go?
[00:04:25] Tiffany: Um, it went good. Uh, well it took awhile, but it went well. Um, I ended up working, um, I'm not sure if I I'm supposed to say where, but anyway, I go to school and work at the same place, so yeah.
[00:04:39] So I ended up with a, uh, a really. Good job with, uh, maybe a good possibility for graduation.
[00:04:47] Mike: That's fantastic.
[00:04:49] Tiffany: Ya. [laugh]
[00:04:50] Mike: Well, you know, Tiffany, we were just talking about that a bunch of us, um, just the other day. And one of the things that I was saying is that's one of the biggest obstacles for somebody going through what you went through, is having somebody give you a shot.
[00:05:06] Tiffany: Yes. You know, I don't know how many times I felt, uh, knocked down and, um, and then [inaudible], like McDonald's or anywhere like that, but they wouldn't even hire me, Mike.
[00:05:16] Mike: Wow.
[00:05:17] Tiffany: They looked at my record and said no way, you're not handling our cash, you know? Um, and so I, I just kept trying to persevere and I kept getting back up and trying again and trying again.
[00:05:30] Eventually someone had to. I just didn't think it was going to be as great as it was. So now I know why none of the other places worked out.
[00:05:39] Mike: Because.
[00:05:40] Tiffany: I was waiting for this one. [laugh]
[00:05:43] Mike: Okay. That's oh man. That's the kind of optimism that I think people connect with. So it was meant to be, huh?
[00:05:51] Tiffany: Yeah, for sure, oh for sure. It was had I gotten any of, one of those other jobs, which I had put lots of job applications in. It wasn't for lack of trying to get a job. Um, I wouldn't be where I am and, um, I wouldn't be, I wouldn't have the future goal in, uh, laying in place that I have, I guess I should say so. Yeah. Um, and school has been, you know. Man school was different.
[00:06:17] I hadn't been in school in a long time, you know, I mean, uh, I, I left, uh, left school in ninth grade, so I never, for back in our day high school started at 10th grade, you remember? So I never went to high school, not a day. I'm not gonna say old I am. [laugh] That was one day ago. So yeah. So, um, I went back and got that HSED then when I started college, I was like woah. [laugh] What is this? But it's okay. I mean, it's been going well, I got a 4.0 last semester.
[00:06:47] Mike: Oh, Tiffany. That is, that is unbelievable. So you're just doing it slowly, right?
[00:06:55] Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah. Um, well, last summer I hit it hard. I would 11 credits in the summer and I almost drove myself crazy. Trying to get it. Uh, cause I'm on. I don't just do it to do it.
[00:07:06] My grades still reflect like what I'm doing then. So it was super hard. So I slowed down a little bit. Yeah. And so instead of five classes, I'm taking two or three.
[00:07:17] Mike: And how long do you project it will be before you get whatever.
[00:07:21] Tiffany: I actually changed a majors. Um, I was going for human services and I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go with that.
[00:07:29] Um, and I wasn't quite sure for a long time and. Then I decided to change to business management administration. So now my graduation projected graduation date, I believe should be May of, oh I'm sorry. August of 2023.
[00:07:51] Mike: Wow. That's not, that's not far at all.
[00:07:54] Tiffany: No, it's not. They'll be some of my classes from human services transferred over to the business management class. So that was good.
[00:08:03] Mike: Yeah. Do you know, uh, yesterday coincidentally, my, uh, my son, one of my sons graduated from college and they had several speakers at the graduation and, uh, of course it was long. Right. But one of the speakers got up and the first thing he said was. It took me 12 years to get this degree.
[00:08:26] And it was the loudest applause of anybody the whole night.
[00:08:32] Tiffany: Yes, sir. It doesn't matter like how long it, let me look at me. Like I said, I was at a school for 20 years. Um, and it's never too late to go back and make something because everybody's like, oh, I'm too old. Or I can't do this. It's never too late.
[00:08:49] As long as we're all still here, you can change and you can make your life better. You just have to want to, you know, and it's a lot of work to want to, I mean, I'm not, I mean, I don't want to get up every day and go, go to school and go to work, you know, but I know that I have to, you know, I mean, some days I like to do it, don't get me wrong, but some days I have to push myself just like anyone else, you know, you know, it's not, um, I don't want to give everyone the assumption that like, once you're in recovery, everything's fabulous and nothing's ever wrong again, you know, um, daily [inaudible], you know, and you don't want to go to where it's just like the next guy, but you also know that you have bills to pay and you have a life that you have built yourself and you just have to keep going.
[00:09:34] Mike: Well, and isn't that the difference between using and not using, which is when you feel like not going in, you're using, it's like, oh, to heck with it. And you just start doing something else that day.
[00:09:45] Tiffany: Well, and it's like so many people, uh, that mentor me in recovery. I've told me, man, you would go to any length to get those drugs.
[00:09:56] Mike: [laugh]
[00:09:56] Tiffany: You would figure out a way to buy them pills. You would figure it out. Well, you know, you got to, if you can apply that. Let's not say technique, but, um, the same zest, uh, for other things in your life in sobriety, then it, it, then you can make it go a lot smoother.
[00:10:17] Mike: I used to, I used to love talking to the people that would want to argue with me that they couldn't get to a support group meeting. Uh, and, and these are the folks that moved all over the state of Wisconsin to get the drugs. Right.
[00:10:29] Tiffany: That's funny. I was, I am, um, my PO was busy a few months back until I had a. Uh, one of his coworkers and I was talking to her and she was like, yeah, um, I don't know, my, they just are having a hard time getting to meetings.
[00:10:43] You know, some of our clients. And I was like, here, I was like, oh, I don't have it on me. I'll text it to you. Here's a 24 hour a day. Uh, seven days a week, a meeting that's ran by a couple of really great guys and she's like, really? I'm like, yeah. So here's how there's no excuse. Now it's a Zoom meeting. [laugh]
[00:10:59] Mike: Great. You know, I, I train and I work with the people from corrections. They must love you when you come in.
[00:11:05] Tiffany: I probably know they love me, but yeah, well, I mean, well, I've the girl the PO had that started with me, ended up advancing. Um, so it was so crazy when she left, I was actually sad and I was like, Tiffany, what is wrong with you? You're sad to see your PO leave? [laugh]
[00:11:26] Mike: So that's, that's a reflection of you doing well though.
[00:11:30] Tiffany: Oh my God. That was insane. I have a really nice, um, PO. I mean, I guess, you know, they're all going to be nice if you're doing what you're supposed to do, but, um, yeah, he, um, really. Congratulated me and, and, and made me, uh, more aware of some of the accomplishments that I've forgotten about, you know, from way back when.
[00:11:51] And so, yeah, they, they do. I think, I think my enthusiasm and my traumatics are a trip for anyone anywhere I go. So, yeah. [laugh]
[00:12:03] Mike: That's an interesting statement you just made. Uh, because sometimes we forget about getting how we got here, right?
[00:12:10] Tiffany: Ya, for sure.
[00:12:12] Mike: You should make a list of those accomplishments just so you can keep it in front of your head.
[00:12:17] Tiffany: Well, and some of the things that we do, you know, in the 12 with the 12 steps to, as this gratitude list, as you can. Yeah. I, I, that just made me think they're very similar. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. We do forget, you know, because these get easier along the way, and we get stuck in life and we just get used to, uh, you know, I was telling somebody the other day, it's not hard to be sober anymore. It's just the way I live. And so, um, I don't know when it became not a chore [laugh], you know? Um, and it just becomes a way of life, but eventually it does, if you just keep doing it.
[00:12:54] Mike: So, I was gonna actually ask you that there's not a day that you can point to and go, oh, here was the corner I turned. All of a sudden, you just look back and you go, here's where I am today.
[00:13:03] Tiffany: For sure. Yup. No, no, you do. And I mean, I remember milestones for me, um, realizations and, um, and things like that, but I don't, no, I don't remember, like specifically on this day is when I started feeling like this. No, it was just before, you know it, If you're true to yourself first, you have to be true to yourself. You can be true to anyone else because of your lying to yourself. Then you're definitely not gonna be honest with anyone else, before you know, it you're just like, man, wow.
[00:13:35] Mike: Well, what do you, when you look back, does it almost seem unreal?
[00:13:40] Tiffany: Oh yeah. Oh, listen. When I look back at, I amended so many relationships that I destroyed, um, But my addiction destroyed, um, when I look back at, before the destruction to now after, that in between that gray area is almost black and, you know, it's like, um, I don't even, I don't even know who I, who I was.
[00:14:10] I wasn't anyone, you know? And, um, and I can say with 100% certainty, I don't care who that person was, you know, like, you know, you talking about, uh, guilt did all that. And I had so much of it. I still, you know, I still have some, don't get me wrong. Of course, I'm always going to feel horrible about the things my addiction made me do.
[00:14:31] Um, but I've tried to make amends to most of that and to myself and everyone else that it affected. And that's all I can do, Mike. And just keep living true to staying sober, you know, and doing what I need to do as a grownup, as an adult, you know, sometimes, you know, when will we get an addiction, we forget that we are adults and that, [laugh] you know, there are things that you have to do when you are an adult. And so. Yeah.
[00:15:00] Mike: When I think, I think when I talked to a lot of people, obviously, right. So I think one of the hardest things to do is what you just talked about. I think forgiving yourself and moving on is really hard.
[00:15:13] Tiffany: I think that was huge for me. Um, if you remember, I had a lot of guilt, I think the last time we had spoken.
[00:15:18] So, and, um, I think that for me, I am my own worst enemy. Any day of the week, even on a good day, I can talk to myself in anything, make myself believe anything. Um, and so carrying around the, the guilt in that pain would have been my talking to myself in a reason to get me high.
[00:15:44] Mike: Ya.
[00:15:44] Tiffany: And so I knew that I just knew it.
[00:15:48] Step three and four, letting go with, you know, my sponsor of, uh, all that stuff and getting it out that I need to talk about with, uh, one person, at least besides God. Um, that was huge. That helps me a lot like that, that really, really, really helped me.
[00:16:07] Mike: Well, it's, you know, it, some people talk about time, right?
[00:16:10] So it seems like, oh, you need to forgive yourself. And it sounds so logical, but it's also. Uh, not very concrete. So it's like, well, how the heck do you do that?
[00:16:19] Tiffany: Just a process too. You know what I mean? Um, some days I still have a little more guilt than I would like to have. And then that's when I got to tell myself, look, you have done everything you can.
[00:16:29] Mike: Yup.
[00:16:30] Tiffany: To fix or to just let them know how sorry you are.
[00:16:36] And there's nothing else you can do. There's when you it's like, um, it's like that MRT, uh, that Kelly and I, uh, you know, we did through drug corp, um, your worries wants and needs. When you've really done all you can about a situation. There's nothing else you can do. And if you continue to worry about it, you're doing yourself nor anyone else, any good.
[00:16:56] Mike: Ya. What I think it hits you out of nowhere sometimes too, right? Like, uh, I was thinking what you said earlier. If somebody says, oh, Hey, you know, just out of the blue, where'd you go to high school and then all of a sudden you have that wash of, uh oh!
[00:17:09] Tiffany: Oh yeah. Oh man. That's so true. Like that. Yeah. Sometimes, um, I'll just be like watching my daughter or, or just, you know, I'll be around family and I almost get, um, it almost makes me emotional now.
[00:17:25] It almost brings up like, man, am I lucky to be here? Like, you know, like I, I then become so grateful inside it. It becomes emotional, you know?
[00:17:38] Mike: Yeah. See, and that's the difference. I think Tiffany don't you, is that instead of feeling guilty about, I didn't go to high school, you feel grateful about what you've accomplished since then.
[00:17:50] Tiffany: For sure. Because, um, everything we do in our life makes us who we are today. Good, bad, ugly, uh, determined, undetermined, whatever. Um, and I feel like at this moment I'm being the best person I can be for me. And for everyone that I care about, I even people I don't even know, you know, I try to make people's days is by telling them that.
[00:18:14] And I mean, it's true. I don't say it. Just say like, I like your shirt or your hair looks nice. You know, because we don't know what's going on in somebody else's life. We don't know the what's going on behind the closed doors, you know, and, and just your being kind, it's just, somebody can really make a difference and it sounds cheesy and, but it's not, and it's so true.
[00:18:38] And so, yeah, I just. Um, the ADHD kicked in. I forgot where I was going with that, but yeah. [laugh]
[00:18:48] Oh, with the mind I got tell you.
[00:18:50] Mike: Well, that's great. Well, I can't imagine you walking into a room and the room not picking up. I mean, you have such energy. It's great.
[00:18:57] Tiffany: Oh, thank you.
[00:18:58] Mike: What do you do to stay centered? Do you have a routine?
[00:19:03] Tiffany: A routine. Um, I think. Going to school and working out. And then I take care of, you know, my daughter and then I have the dog and I have, uh, all those things that I don't neglect.
[00:19:17] I make sure, even though I don't want to do it, I do it. You know, so I think having a routine, especially for my disease, ADHD is my enemy because that gives me every reason to go do what I want, think I want to do, you know? So, um, a routine and, um, a planner. You know going by my, my whole life is still planned out. You know?
[00:19:39] And drug corp is huge. A planner. They want you to have a planner. I couldn't in the beginning. I'm like, oh God, you guys carry this planner everywhere. Now I live by my planner. You know now my planners in my phone. It's in my purse. It's yeah, routine and structure.
[00:19:53] Mike: I don't know how people live their life without one.
[00:19:57] Tiffany: Oh my God. I don't know if I ever did before. [laugh] It's funny because I'll go places. I still pull out the planner. People from drug corp, oh you've still got the planner. Oh yes I do! [laugh]
[00:20:07] Mike: Right. And I I'm so old school that mine is still, I carry it. You know, it's not like.
[00:20:12] Tiffany: Oh me too. Uh, my, uh, where I work, they put it on a Google calendar for, you know, when at first I'm like, what the heck?
[00:20:19] I mean, I've learned so much, but I still have a hard copy that goes in my purse everywhere I go. Yup, me too.
[00:20:25] Mike: Great. And so as you, instead of looking in the rear view mirror, as you look out the windshield, what, what do you now looking forward to?
[00:20:34] Tiffany: I'm looking forward to my, my future. I'm looking forward to watching, um, watching everyone in front of me grow up, my nephews, my nieces, my daughter, like I look forward to finding some more inner peace, um, and.
[00:20:51] To finally starting a career of, of something, you know? Um, I look forward to having, to, to see the end game, I guess, to actually being excited about that.
[00:21:06] Mike: Wow. That's just outstanding. Do you mind if we try to, I know you, you're the, one of the busiest people that I've ever met.
[00:21:12] Tiffany: [laugh]
[00:21:13] Mike: So maybe, you know, if it's been that long, we can check back in with each other.
[00:21:19] Cause I, I just love these conversations if that's alright.
[00:21:22] Tiffany: Absolutely Mike. To get, I, you know, I, I did want my story out there somehow and I want to be able to help somebody because like we had talked about before, everybody's like, oh, it's just Adderall. No, but it's not just that at all. It's never just Adderall. So yeah, absolutely. I, I, if I can give anyone a little bit of hope or just a reason, you know, for sure.
[00:21:46] Yeah, absolutely, we can check back in.
[00:21:48] Mike: I think you do. I mean, you drop it in and then you move on so quickly. I don't know if people have caught that in this. I have, you know, where you talk about, oh, I didn't, you know, I dropped out of school in ninth grade. And then the next sentence that you say is about your ADHD and 4.0, so you'd drop in one of the obstacles and then immediately.
[00:22:11] Turn it into what you've done to cope with that and what you're proud of. And that's, that's not easy for people to do. And if anybody's listening to this, um, who's in that spot, that's a tremendous way to live your life is to end the sentence, end the paragraph on the positives.
[00:22:29] Tiffany: Yeah. I leave the glass half full instead of half empty.
[00:22:31] Mike: No kidding.
[00:22:32] Tiffany: I never really understood that analogy until most recently.
[00:22:36] Mike: Well, Tiffany, I think your glass is more than half full at this point.
[00:22:39] [laugh] Thank you Mike.
[00:22:41] Yeah. Um, and so let's, let's leave it there. That's what we'll actually call this, uh, more than half full. Um, Tiffany, thanks a bunch as always. And we'll talk to you again down the road for those of you listening, you know how this goes, please listen in the next time, when we talk about more issues regarding substance use, and until then, please stay safe and keep your glass half full.
[00:23:04] [END AUDIO]
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.