CentraCare Addiction Counselor Shares Her Own Recovery Story

Addiction Services
“I doubted for so many years that I could get sober … and just when you think you can’t do it, you can.”

Diana Geisinger, BS, LADC, is a CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital Addiction Services counselor for adults. She knows all too well what her clients are going through because she’s been there herself.

“I come from the same fight … I truly get it,” Diana empathized. “I had a pretty dysfunctional family, my parents were heroin addicts, in and out of prison, throughout my childhood.”

Growing up with her grandparents and in and out of foster care and group homes, Diana turned to substances by age 11 and entered her first rehabilitation program at age 16.

She started CentraCare’s addiction treatment program formerly known as Recovery Plus, for the first time when she was 18 years old.

Diana struggled with dependency on alcohol, methamphetamines, and various other drugs — landing herself in treatment programs nearly every year throughout her twenties.

“I know that had to have killed my counselor, Beverly Archer — knowing that I may be graduating from the program but that I wasn’t done fighting yet,” she confided.

Diana got married when she was 25. Her husband Jeff didn’t realize how strong her addiction was and as a result, they divorced four years later.

“I think from a very young age, going through all the different foster homes, I got a chance to see there were families out there who were normal — I always wanted that normal,” she admitted.

Diana welcomed her first son Brandon in 2004. “Brandon was born amid my addiction and is the absolute miracle that saved my life.”

Diana painfully remembers her baby boy being put into foster care because he was born with drugs in his system.

The hospital social worker assigned to Diana’s case is now one of her closest colleagues. “Rena was the social worker who had to notify social services to put a hold on my child,” Diana lamented. “That was the lowest moment of my entire life.”

She maintained, “That part of me is healed and I look at Rena now with nothing but love and admiration … She saved my child. I owe her my life.”

Diana spent the first year of Brandon’s life furloughed to treatment and in jail. Diana completed the residential chemical dependency program at CentraCare formally known as Journey Home. She attended parenting classes and was able to regain custody of her son.

But amid her progress, on June 18, 2006, Diana relapsed and attempted to take her own life. “I never thought I was going to be able to beat my addiction. I was tired and just did not want to fight for my life anymore.”

When she woke up the next day in her sister’s driveway, she was astonished and described it as a spiritual awakening. “I’ve been a different person since that day. There’s nothing about me that’s the same and I know I’m meant for something more.”

She reentered treatment again, but this time it transformed her life for good.

Diana started putting the pieces of her new life together. She and Jeff reconnected and welcomed their son Jaden in 2008.

Diana’s former counselor, Beverly Archer, was instrumental in her life and her recovery and encouraged her to reach for more. “I gravitated toward her, she’s the reason I’m here,” she smiled. “I finally asked her if she thought I could be a counselor, and she said, ‘Diana, you have so much to offer. You get your butt into school.’”

That’s exactly what Diana did. She and Jeff remarried in 2019, the same year she was hired to fill the former position of Beverly who was retiring from CentraCare.

“For her to give me the reigns—it’s a beautiful thing,” Diana marveled.

Diana’s son, Brandon, is almost 20 years old now and just started college. “When you look back at my genogram the history of addiction goes through the generations … I am proud because my children have a different life because I broke the cycle.”

With over 17 years of sobriety, Diana is currently a graduate student at St. Cloud State University and is pursuing her master’s degree in social work. She’s working on a book that will share her story in hopes it’ll inspire others who are struggling with addiction.

Diana says she’s grateful that she surrounded herself with people who challenged her to challenge herself. “When you think you can’t, you can. Now I wholeheartedly believe that.”