Earning a fresh start
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Kim Ridings is 20 minutes early.In the past, she wasn’t likely to show up at all. It doesn’t sound like much but that’s what meth does. That’s just one of the many problems meth can create.”I’m always early,” she said. “(Before) If I even showed up at all I’d be late.”She’s looking forward to having her kids back in her life. She started packing months in advance for a move to Oregon in July – after a scheduled graduation from drug court. She’d decided it would be best for her kids to live in Oregon with an aunt and uncle while she worked to get her life under control. For Ridings, life had been spiraling out of control from methamphetamine addiction and alcohol abuse.Before, she procrastinated or abandoned responsibilities. Eating and sleeping every day didn’t always happen. Now, she seems to enjoy getting things done in advance.Ridings, 35, began using meth at 29 to numb the experience of a traumatic event. She used meth daily and abused alcohol. Today, she would rather talk about the solution than the problems.
“I was just barely holding it together,” she said. “Things were fraying very quickly. … if I hadn’t been arrested I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be alive today.”For her success, she credits the 9th Judicial District’s Drug Court program, whose staff members she now considers friends.”I honestly don’t think I could have my sobriety if I didn’t have the program,” she said.Ridings was arrested for drug charges in June 2005, got a deferred judgment and sentence and was placed in drug court. She said she was hanging out at the wrong place at the wrong time. For some reason she took a voluntary drug test.But drug court and recovery hasn’t been easy. She had to change how she thinks and reacts to the world – the hardest thing she’s ever done.”I sat on the fence for a long time,” she said. “In the beginning, I kind of looked at the probation officer and the judge as somewhat of the enemy, but they want you to succeed as much as you do.”She wanted to believe she could still drink alcohol. She relapsed severely. But she’s now been completely clean for over seven months.”I didn’t realize how close I was to having Terry (Shanahan) pull my probation,” she said. “They were afraid that I had given up – and I almost had – but I didn’t want to continue to live like that.”
Eventually, something sank in.At drug court, people tend to get emotionally involved in people’s lives by watching them succeed or experience setbacks. Ridings wanted the drug court staff and community to be proud of her.Through counseling she learned to become more aware of her thoughts in order to control them. The trick is to identify negative thoughts or assumptions and change them. For a while, Kim had the problem of seeing herself as a victim instead of taking responsibility.Thoughts like, “I can drink just one – nobody will know,” are the kinds of thoughts she had to learn to control.”It’s really important to be aware of what you’re thinking because a thought can lead to a relapse very easily,” she said.Kim engaged in role-playing during her counseling. It was a kind of practice at life. One scenario was about setting boundaries in relationships.”You teach people how to treat you,” she said. “I hated that phrase at first.”She’s still wary of alcohol and relapse, but decided it’s not worth the risk.
Priorities have changed.”If I went into a bar for a beer, I would be putting my entire life up there,” she said. “I have a good job. I have a great relationship with my kids. The family relationships are coming back. … I’m able to look people in the eye.”That’s what drug court can do.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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