Profiles in Recovery

Kristy Nishihara

Growing up in Hawaii, Nishihara knew the tranquility of nature – and the torture of alcohol addiction. Her compulsion to drink was so intense, she could not stop even after being treated for seizures and other health issues triggered by her disease.

“I was incarcerated four times due to alcohol-related incidents, hospitalized at least ten times, and ended up homeless,” says Nishihara.

Life began to improve when she entered a 90-day residential treatment program and embraced 12-step meetings. Today, Nishihara is five years sober and uses her experience to bring hope to people in early recovery. “I wake up grateful every morning that I am not chasing that obsession,” she says.

Day Job:
Case manager at Hawaii Island Recovery

At the height of my addiction:  
I became a slave to the bottle.  I gave up everything because the obsession to drink was constant.  I lost my friends and family . . . lost many jobs, my morals, values, sense of worth, dignity and hope in myself to even live.

My rock bottom moment:  
The realization that I could not manage my life anymore.

What worked for me:  
SURRENDER.  I tried outpatient and a 12-step program for a few years.  I was in and out of sobriety.  Once I finally surrendered and was completely open and willing, I went to Hazelden in Springbrook, Oregon.  I detoxed for a few days, then chose to stay for a 90-day residential program.  After I returned home to Hawaii, I went to at least one AA meeting a day and continued with outpatient treatment.  I never stopped working on my recovery program.

Advice to my younger self:  
Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Be who you are.  Accept all the flaws and imperfections, and do the best that you can.  Speak up.

Rules I live by:  
Today, there are many rules I live by, but what has worked for me in most situations, and that I use almost daily, is “let it go.”

Favorite recovery quote:  
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

When cravings come:  
All I need to do is think about how my life was, and where drinking got me.  I also think about how far I have come in recovery, and how much I have to lose.  I now have a three-year-old daughter and a fiancé.  If I take a sip, I know I will lose all of it.  I don’t give myself the option to drink.

On my schedule today:  
I work with people in every recovery at least five days a week, as a case manager at a residential treatment facility.  Everyone needs balance, so when I get home, I spend time with my family.  I am so grateful every night that I can go to bed sober, one more day, and reap the benefits of being sober.

Best advice for newbies:  
Do not ever give up, no matter how hard it gets. A hard day in recovery beats a good day “out there”.

What I value most in recovery:  
I value my sobriety the most. I need to put my recovery first, if I don’t everything else I have today will be gone.

How I get through the holidays:  
I get through the holidays with a grateful attitude. Although many people drink and celebrate, I celebrate being sober, and am proud of it! I think about the holidays as now being able to remember the memorable times I shared, instead of memories of destroying holidays.

I get inspired by:  
Helping others. When I see people succeed, I feel great! It’s a win, win situation.

What saves me from myself:  
Self-forgiveness is a big part of my daily routine.  Sine I have learned that I am not perfect, I am constantly making mistakes, but I tell myself that it’s ok.  As long as I learned my lesson, keep moving forward, and try not to make the same mistake twice.

SHED THE STIGMA:   
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