A student formerly addicted to drugs aspires to help others in the same position

Published: May. 20, 2019 at 7:02 PM EDT
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When Ashley Langford's eleven-year marriage started to fall apart, she had a hard time coping with the situation.

Langford says she had a great life while living in Knoxville, Tennessee with her family.

She says she and her husband owned several rental properties, drove nice cars, had a large home, and they were doing very well for themselves.

"I was very involved with my family, so that was a big blow to me," Langford says.

"That's what started the drug abuse," she adds.

She says the drugs were a way for her to deal with the turmoil in the relationship.

And at first, they worked. But, that feeling was short-lived.

Langford says she didn't expect to become addicted to the drugs she was taking.

She says the severity of the habit hit home when she went to a friend's one night, thinking she was coming down with an illness.

"I was throwing up and shaking all over, so I was just like 'man, I must be coming down with something.' She just laughed, I'll never forget her laugh. She said 'no, you need to take something, you're going through withdraw," says Langford.

"And, I thought, 'oh my gosh, you know, how did I get here,'" she adds.

But her struggles didn't stop there.

While in the midst of the beginning stages of her sobriety, she soon found herself trying to heal someone else of their addictions as well.

"He had addictions of his own and I thought 'maybe my sobriety would rub off on him,'" she says.

"I finally just got fed up and was like, okay I've got to take care of me now," Langford adds.

That break-up sent her to enroll at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, where she recently graduated and earned an associate's degree.

However, she isn't stopping there. She is now enrolled at Union College, where she is majoring in Criminal Justice.

After earning her bachelor's degree at Union College, she aspires to go to law school, to hopefully change the way court systems handle people with drug problems.

"What do you do when you have felonies? You can't get a job. I know a single mother right now and she is rocking recovery, she's doing amazing. But, she's working two part-time minimum wage jobs, because she has felonies," says Langford.

"She wants to get into a respiratory therapy program, but the background check. And so, those felonies are holding her back. She can't get government housing, she can't get any kind of help. So a lot of addicts are like 'why try,' when it's so rough to get back on top," she adds.

School officials at Union College say they hope that many will be inspired by Langford, and choose to follow in her footsteps.

"There is a way out. There is hope and it starts with education. Education is the key to getting out of difficult situations, difficult life," says Marcia Hawkins, President of Union College.

While her sobriety could not save her marriage, Langford says her kids are the driving force to her sobriety and is continuing to fight, to give them the best life she can provide.

She says she has 30 semester hours left to graduate with her bachelor's degree and expects to be graduating within the next year.

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