Addiction counselor comes full circle — from using to helping others stop From Spotlight on Health - Fall 2012
If it weren’t for Recovery Plus, Jenna Fuchs, 28, may not be here today to make a difference for others who struggle with chemical addiction and mental health issues.
Jenna had to meet with a St. Cloud Hospital Recovery Plus prevention consultant in seventh grade after she was caught with cigarettes at school. By age 14, Jenna was using marijuana, alcohol and other drugs. She also struggled with depression, which increased her risk of addiction. By the beginning of her sophomore year, Jenna was using daily and skipping school. She went from the gifted and talented program to barely functioning, getting Ds and Fs. The adults around Jenna grew increasingly alarmed and turned to the prevention consultant for help.
But Jenna didn’t want to stop. The rollercoaster ride was exhilarating and she wasn’t ready for it to end. Even when the prevention consultant referred Jenna to outpatient treatment at Recovery Plus, she didn’t take it seriously and kept using drugs with her friends. Because Jenna needed more intense help, the staff referred her to residential treatment. After a month of intensive treatment, Jenna finally realized how serious her drug use had become.
“I had no idea how bad it was. I couldn’t remember words or how to have a conversation,” she said. “Treatment was like being put on spin dry in a washing machine. I started talking about stuff and felt better. I learned about who I was.”
Treatment also helped Jenna’s family learn more about addiction and recovery, and how they could best help. Jenna returned to school and participated in an aftercare program through Recovery Plus. The prevention consultant connected Jenna with a life-changing 12-step program. The consultant and Recovery Plus staff supported and encouraged Jenna through the difficulties of early recovery.
Jenna started sharing her recovery story at other high schools.
After graduation, Jenna realized that helping others stay clean brought meaning and purpose to her life. She decided to pursue degrees in social work and a certificate in addiction counseling. Her first job after grad school was as a prevention consultant, working with high school kids.
Jenna now works full time as an addictions counselor in the Recovery Plus treatment programs, including working side-by-side with some of the staff who made such a difference in her life. She recently celebrated 10 years of being clean and sober.
“A lot of people who use drugs view them as a solution,” Jenna said. “There is no problem so bad that drugs and alcohol can’t make worse.”
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