In long term recovery from a substance use and alcohol use disorder, Carmel Cline has been on her recovery journey for 22 years. Addiction had been a part of her life since childhood as her father was an alcoholic and suffered from PTSD from Vietnam. With her early years filled with chaos and uncertainty, Carmel vowed that she would never drink.
But she did. Once the alcohol use began, it was soon followed by other substances. Carmel says that she doesn’t remember the hour or the day when she lost herself to drugs and alcohol. All she knew was that what she was facing had been years in the making.
“I was drowning and had nothing to keep me afloat. My life preserver, at that time, was the alcohol and drugs because it kept me from being sick, but at the same time it was the very thing drowning me.” She was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Everyday.
During the last time she was incarcerated, Carmel said she “was alone without the drugs and alcohol to cloud her thoughts” and forced to reflect upon what her life had become. She was broken, hopeless, and spiritually bankrupt. One night on that jail house floor Carmel says that she surrendered her will and life over to God. She says that she didn’t pray for a way out of her situation, but for God to be with her as she went through it. He was.
After being released jail, Carmel entered treatment and then reunited with her son and husband. In her seventh year of recovery, Carmel began working for the Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) through the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) and was able to partner with social workers to serve families who were going through what her family had gone through because of substance use.
Carmel has worked for START for 15 years but now serves in a different role. She has obtained a Bachelor of Social Work and is currently in the Master’s program through the University of Kentucky. She has been married for 33 years and her son, who is now 27, serves in the U.S. Army. Carmel admits that “ the apple of her eye” is her 5-year-old granddaughter, Stormi Ray. She says she has been blessed.
Carmel wants everyone to know that people do recover. She is quick to point out that staying connected with God and a faith-based 12 step program have helped her along her recovery journey. Connection is the opposite of addiction.
Carmel says that if you want to help someone who is in active addiction then, “Shunning doesn’t work. When we look at folks, instead of saying: ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we should say ‘What’s happened to you?’ because we have to love people back to life!”