Ginger Whatley Blog, People Facing Addiction

I started using drugs daily while I was in my last year of college, after a breakup with a boyfriend. Life got unmanageable. I moved around looking for a rescuer that never showed up. I landed in jail on a felony charge for delivery of a controlled substance. My mother posted my bail on Christmas Eve.

For the next year, I continued to party and hang out with other people who were using substances. In 1990, I got married to a lawyer who helped get my record expunged. I tried to control my use for a while. I was living a lie: I was unhappy and nothing was ever enough.

The disease of addiction is progressive and I went into self-destructive mode when our law practice fell apart. It wasn’t long before I went back to methamphetamines and IV use. In 1999, I got arrested about nine times: mostly traffic violations, hot checks, and failure to appear and pay.

I also racked up three felony charges in two different states. I was charged with grand larceny after I stole a Corvette that I was convinced was a gift to me. I was suffering from drug-induced psychosis and felt that I was being watched and monitored by benevolent people trying to get me to quit using. I hated my life and I felt all alone.

I went to a 28-day treatment program and relapsed the night I was released. I went straight back to jail, then a behavior modification treatment facility. It was run by other people with substance use disorder and everyone that worked there was in recovery. My mother, who was my primary enabler, died while I was there.

Treatment was hardcore, but they got through to me. I started attending meetings, working, and staying free from use upon my release. My first job paid $5.25, even though I had a college degree. I didn’t use substances, worked the 12 Steps with a sponsor, changed jobs, and was promoted several times.

Ginger WhatleyIt was hard being honest about my felony convictions. I was on probation for five years. I remarried in 2006, bought a home, and decided to go back to school. In 2009, I enrolled in graduate school at Texas A&M, pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. I graduated in 2012 and obtained my LPC license and LCDC license after being an intern for two years at an HIV clinic.

My lost dreams awakened. I applied for a job in Colorado and moved here in 2015. I am currently licensed in Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Addiction Counselor, specializing in dual diagnosis.

Today, I love my life and I can help other recovering people learn to live without using drugs. Recently, my caseload has increased and I am working with children whose parents are in active addiction.

I am grateful I was given a second chance. Those hardcore counselors who had changed their lives gave me hope that I could change mine. Although I currently work at an outpatient rural mental health clinic, I would like to someday open a treatment center and help families bring their lost children back to their own future and dreams. We do recover!