Telling A Survivor’s Story

Jennifer Hunt is not a person in recovery, but she is a survivor of substance use disorder. She doesn’t suffer from addiction. She suffers from the loss of her family members to addiction. 

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Jennifer’s perspective is informed by her personal experiences and the love she has for her family.

Jennifer Hunt Family Photo Jennifer Hunt is not a person in recovery, but she is a survivor of substance use disorder. She doesn’t suffer from addiction. She suffers from the loss of her family members to addiction. 

Jennifer was raised in a home where substance use was prevalent, common, and normalized. Jennifer’s mom and sisters used marijuana daily, and then progressed to using methamphetamine. Jennifer, the oldest, did not get involved. Instead of coping with the consequences of substance use, she was a witness to her family’s destruction. She said, “I’ve spent my 47 years observing my mom and siblings live their unsatisfying, uncomfortable lives. In 1998, my middle sister Lori died in a car wreck during a relapse. In 2007, my mom died of acute methadone poisoning, an overdose. This year, my oldest sister Teresa, after being homeless for over a decade, died of toxic shock after shooting up with a dirty needle.”

Jennifer’s losses inspired her to write a memoir called Smoke Rings Rising: Triumph of a Drug-Endangered Daughter. The book describes Jennifer’s journey and how she was able to survive the pain of losing her family to addiction. She said, “I’m choosing to share my story in the hopes that someone takes what I’ve seen and learns from it. What if my story changes the trajectory of one teenager’s life for the better? Or many teenagers’ lives for the better? What if a mother and her child get reunited because of something I’ve written? Better yet, what if a mother and child are never separated by addiction in the first place? If my story changes just one life for the better, then the past five and a half years of writing will be worth it!”

Jennifer’s perspective is informed by her personal experiences and the love she has for her family. Her (drug-free) adult children have their own children, and Jennifer feels passionately that she must protect them from addiction. She also believes that it’s important to share what she’s seen and learned about addiction with the rest of the world. Above all, Jennifer believes that some of the greatest needs people have surrounding addiction and recovery are unfaltering support, encouragement, accountability that builds self-esteem, and community. Supportive, healthy connections can and do save lives.

Jennifer says that writing her memoir was healing, and she hopes it will help others.

She said, “In all honesty, it was easier to live through the troubles I’ve endured through my life than to write about them. Writing about them was a choice; living through them wasn’t. Having completed my story, I feel whole for the first time. I’m okay with myself and my family of origin. Life is still hard at times, but it is good. I’m at peace.”

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