Profiles in Recovery

Danielle Christensen

Homeless as a young adult in Long Beach, California, Danielle Christensen knew the deep descent of addiction. She was using drugs “every moment of every day, and always looking for ways and means to get more.” In and out of jails, Christensen was severely depressed and malnourished.

What gave her a radical new life was intensive, court-ordered treatment.

“I was given the opportunity to change my life, and with lots of help, I became somebody I could finally love for the first time in my life,” Christensen says.

Today, she celebrates nearly four years of recovery and helps others rebuild their lives after addiction. Christensen is a case manager and peer specialist for the nonprofit Curran Seeley Foundation in Jackson, Wyoming.

Day Job:
Case manager/recovery peer specialist in Wyoming

What I lost to addiction:
My teenage years, sense of self, my family and friends, and all happiness.

What worked for me:
Drug Court, addiction treatment and 12-step practices.  I was homeless, had 3 DUIs, and was in and out of jail. I was sentenced to 7-10 years in prison which was suspended upon completion of inpatient treatment, Drug Court and five years probation.

I did 90 days at Central Wyoming Counseling Center, completed Drug Court in one year and attended an Intense Outpatient treatment program five days a week. Went to 90 meetings in 90 days and built a very sturdy foundation in Recovery (consisting of my higher power, service, getting a sponsor, working the 12 steps).

Advice to my younger self:
Drugs will only lead you to three places:  jails, institutions and death. You have a choice on which path to take – choose life.

Rules I live by:
Do the next right thing.

What I learned about myself:
I am so strong and resilient that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.  I don’t need anything outside of myself to change the way I feel. I love who I have become today. It’s the little things in life that give me so much joy.  A funny thing that I learned since being in recovery is that my favorite color is green.  I learned this at the age of 31.

Best advice for newbies:
Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

How I get through the holidays:
It helps having my husband in recovery as well. If we go somewhere and one of us is uncomfortable, we just have to say a code word and we leave. We do not go places where there are drugs or drinking.  It is just not fun.

What I value most in recovery:
Is my recovery, number one.  I attend 3-4 meetings a week. By attending meetings and helping other addicts stay clean, I can keep my recovery.

Thoughts on relapse:
Watching other members come back after a relapse, sometimes that was what was needed to strengthen their program.  They let the life they got in recovery get in the way of their recovery and ultimately, they relapse. I know for me, to relapse is to die, I don’t believe I would make it out alive.

Proudest moment:
I had been talking to my husband for a year on the phone while he was in prison – we discussed recovery and all the changes I had gone through because of Narcotics Anonymous. I went to pick him up and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Can we go to a meeting?’

I get inspired by:
People with one day clean. I remember my first day clean, it was not pretty. The strength you see in peoples’ faces as you give them their first 24-hour chips – so powerful.

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If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].