Perry County woman shares hope with others in the midst of drug addiction

Published: Sep. 13, 2018 at 4:17 PM EDT
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Many crime-related news stories are drug-related, but sometimes those who commit the crimes are able to turn their lives around. In recognition of National Recovery Month, we shine a spotlight on Hazard's Jennifer Erwin.

Erwin began using drugs at a very young age. She says at first it was all about having a good time, but when it was no longer fun she found herself unable to stop. That is when her downward spiral began.

"All the things I loved became less important to me. My child was less important to me. My family and friends. In the end, I didn't have any friends," said Erwin. "My family had enough of me and had to push me out of their lives to protect themselves."

On the outside, it was obvious what drugs were doing to Jennifer Erwin, but the real damage was happening on the inside.

"Everything in me told me that there was absolutely no hope for me. That I would never get any better. That I should just go ahead and die," said Erwin. "I did not believe I was capable of doing anything. I honestly didn't think I would live to see thirty years old. I had no direction in life. I had no relationship with God. I was incapable of having a relationship with other human beings."

Eventually, Erwin was broken. That is when she became willing to stop.

"The last day that I used drugs was on June 8th, 2009," Erwin said proudly.

Since that time Erwin has achieved several things.

"Since I got clean I went back to college. I started out at Hazard Comunity and Technical College. I transferred to Lindsey Wilson College where I obtained a bachelor and master's degree," said Erwin. "I'm currently in the counselor education program at Lindsey Wilson College for doctoral studies."

Erwin also works at Hickory Hill Treatment Center for men in Knott County as director of residential services. Although she has earned several degrees, she says her greatest achievements come from others.

"My most prized accomplishment is to be a mother to my children. To show up Saturday morning on the baseball field with the mom baseball shirt on. And to have a water when my daughter has a water break at soccer practice," Erwin said beaming with pride. "My family trusts me today. Before I got clean they couldn't even let me in their homes."

Erwin credits her accomplishments and relationships to a twelve-step program.

"It gives me some guidance in how to not just live in recovery from alcohol and drugs but how to live life in a productive way and be a responsible member of society again," said Erwin.

As a result, she has also developed valuable relationships with others who are on a similar path.

"I didn't use drugs by myself and I'm not going to recover by myself," said Erwin. "I have an amazing network, people that I can call and talk to that will tell me the truth even when I don't want to hear it. I trust them and they trust me."

Erwin went on to say, if you are struggling with addiction, she wants you to know there is hope and a way out.