In this episode Cristine shares her journey from drug addiction to mental health counselor and the miracles which shaped her life: prayer, choice, and God’s grace.
The Miracles Which Helped Me Overcome Addiction
Over 30 years ago, Christine Price found herself deep in addiction. Through several miracles she turned her life around and is now a clinical mental health counselor. She has worked in the substance abuse field and has been a school psychologist. Cristine has a thriving practice in integrative mental health, which brings both Eastern and Western medicine together. She is currently a doctoral student in natural medicine studying the wellbeing of practitioners. Cristine is the author of various self help books and tools, and she’s working to promote conscious therapies. She is a wife, mother, and has a beautiful story of hope.
The Boat Analogy
Cristine loves using the analogy of a little boat on a little river, there’s a natural, downhill slope and if you’re not rowing upward, you naturally gravitate downward. She says that analogy describes most of her childhood and adolescence.
The Oars of Faith and Works
She explains she later figured out she only had one oar and for that reason she really wasn’t a great rower. Cristine says the oars are “faith” and “works” and she was only using the “works” oar to row her boat. Cristine says it took her a major fall to find the “faith” oar she needed.
Christine says there was no substance abuse in her family system. She was raised by a fairly religious family and it was a major surprise for them when she started declining in a way that they didn’t understand.
The Trauma She Tried to Bury
Cristine believes an early trauma at age 4 and then at age 14 led to her spiritual decline, although her parents didn’t realize she had been traumatized. So at age 14 she threw out her “faith” oar and began to drink and to do things which were against the rules she grew up with. She felt that she should be punished for breaking the rules, and even wrote in her journal that she needed to punish herself.
Cristine felt she would be in trouble if she confessed, so she decided to do punishment for herself. She also felt a lot of fear. Her parents were baffled and couldn’t understand the major changes in her personality and her anger. Cristine says she stifled fear for most of her life due to her trauma, and that led to anger. She was punishing herself, and everyone else.
The Truth Comes Out
One day her mom read her journal, desperate for some answers. Cristine says she can’t imagine how that night was for her mom. She believes must have been heartbroken to find the reality of what Cristine was going through, and the depth of where she had gotten. Cristine was heavily into drugs, and says it was a wonder she wasn’t pregnant. As the oldest child, Cristine knew her parents had hopes and dreams for her, they wanted her to be an example to her siblings and actively involved in their church.
Her parents ended up taking her to counseling, which eventually inspired her career. She’s so grateful they made the choice to get her help, because at the time, she never would have asked for it.
Cristine worked with a wonderful counselor who was accepting, and didn’t involve Cristine’s parents which she says was a good thing. She built a relationship with her counselor, and began to model her life after her. She planted seeds for Cristine, and knew that something deeper was going on. Cristine couldn’t even tell her what was wrong; the trauma was too deep.
Her counselor suggested hypnotherapy, which Cristine was very against. She says she didn’t want to know what she knew deep down. The trauma that was deep inside her fueled her drug addiction which lasted from ages 14 to 20.
Cristine explains there is a dividing line with addiction. If you go above the dividing line, you’re in recovery. On the other side of the line, it’s a ride with no effort going downward. Cristine says at this point in her life, she wanted to go for her ride. Her family and counselor didn’t want her to go on the ride, but she felt she needed to. Cristine says she felt like she was in a boat trying to go in the direction she wanted to go.
Conflict and Choices
Her family was trying to row her the other direction. It created family tension and conflict, and it created a lot of conflict in her parent’s marriage. Cristine says it’s not clear if there were problems before she began her spiral or if their problems were a result of the spiral, but it doesn’t change the fact that there was tension and conflict in their marriage.
At age 18 Cristine graduated from high school and started college. She tried to find a way to get out of the house, but quickly learned she couldn’t afford to do that. She had progressed enough in her drug addiction that she was looking for “big, scary drugs.”
Her parents had gone through counseling and had worked together, coming out stronger than before. They addressed the problem that they had a young adult at home creating tension, and had a counselor help them create a foolproof plan. Cristine could stay at home, but there were requirements for her living at home. She would have curfews and drug testing.
Choosing a Different Path
Cristine says she felt it was impossible for her to stay home with those rules. So, Cristine met a drug dealer and two weeks later, she packed her bags and moved in with him.
This was before cell phones, so her parents had no idea where she was going. They had no idea where she was for six months, they just knew she was alive and would go by to see her at work for a minute or two when they could.
Fast Cooking Addictions
About a year after Cristine found hard drugs, Cristine remembers a day when she thought about how highly addictive these kinds of drugs were and began to be worried. Cristine says her boat hadn’t gone off the waterfall yet, she still knew she had a choice.
Cristine compares drug addiction to cooking a frog; if you put a frog in boiling water it will jump right out. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you cook the frog. Cristine says some addictions are more fast cooking.
One night Cristine could no longer refuse substances. She realized she was “boiled.” They controlled her.
At the age of 20, she realized she was fully addicted to drugs. It was the same year as the “Just Say No!” campaign by Nancy Reagan. There were lots of pamphlets at her school, and she took some home. She read them through, and realized she met the criteria. She was an addict. Cristine felt scared, and didn’t know what to do.
Effects of the Drugs
It was about this same point when she realized what the drugs were doing to her physically. She felt like she had an ulcer, she had sores, she just felt like something was wrong. Her body was aging, it was deteriorating, and she felt like it was toxic.
A few months later, everything spiraled out of control. Things started to go bad in her drug-dealing world. She explained that the drug world is a dark, empty world where she started experiencing depression, had financial issues, had to play games with landlords, dealt with betrayals and loss of friends, and experienced extreme paranoia.
Cristine was also attending college and struggled with papers and grades. She explains, “There were times when my heart was beating so fast with a combination of things I was using that I thought maybe I would have go to the hospital. And if I did that I would be in trouble and then I have to deal with legal stuff.” She felt so much stress and pressure.
1. Parental Love
Cristine remembers working in a deli that allowed smoking and sold every variety of coffee, and it was a hangout for college students who enjoyed partying. Cristine remembers her dad walking in to the smoke-filled room to buy an overpriced sandwich, just to spend two minutes with her. She felt “something” from that. In the midst of everything she was in, she knew he cared. Her mother also came to visit her in the spring, and they sat outside together for a few minutes to chat.
She says these were significant moments for her, realizing that her parents still loved and cared about her. The little things they did made a difference. They kept their boundaries, but were willing to come into her world.
One spring day, her mother invited her home for a half-birthday party, per a tradition of celebrating half birthdays from her childhood. Cristine says this gesture was so meaningful, that her parents would go out of their way to celebrate her. She felt unconditional love, and says “it’s a powerful thing.”
2. Cristine’s Christmas Gift
In early December Cristine’s mom contacted her and asked if she would come home for Christmas. Cristine asked if she could bring her boyfriend, and her mother agreed.
At the Christmas gathering her family had a spiritual message at the end. Her mother asked them to each think about giving a gift to Christ. Cristine thought about that idea for weeks.
On Christmas Eve, Cristine was in a surreal place. She couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t eat. She felt like she was searching for something. That evening she and her boyfriend ended up at a party, and she remembers seeing everything differently. People were collapsed on the floor with eyes glazed over. Cristine says she suddenly realized these people had aged so much in a year. And she realized this wasn’t what she wanted.
Cristine thought about the song Hotel California, “you can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave.” She says it felt like that.
In this moment of clarity, Cristine decided to pray. She knew what her gift to Christ would be: to give up all the drugs. She felt a voice speak to her heart and mind saying, “thank you” and felt the words written on her heart. That impression has stayed with her for her 30 years of recovery.
Cristine told her parents on Christmas day that she was ready to come home.
3. Recovery with God’s Help
Cristine moved home and felt a more positive vibe and spirit in her home. Her parents were able to connect and find solutions for her. She felt her extended family system behind her with massive prayers and love.
Cristine started to pursue a career in social work. She found therapy, started to resolve the trauma she had pushed away, and found recovery. Cristine says everyone is responsible for their own journey, and she wouldn’t recommend her path, but knows there was purpose behind it.
She says there is great value in talking to people who have also had similar experiences. There are many who have had their own journey of overcoming. Cristine had fallen down her own waterfall, hit bottom, and saw no way out. That was when a helicopter labeled HP (for Higher Power) showed up and came to help her get back in her boat back on course. At this point she chose to take both oars and use them to propel her forward.
Finding faith was a choice, and once she chose it, she never looked back.
Telling Her Story
Cristine has written a book under a pen name Christy V. where she shares her story and details the 12-step process and how that goes hand in hand with her journey and recovery with Christ’s help. This book is called, Whereas I Was Blind, Now I See. In this books she talks more about the analogy of the boat and codependency.
Here is a motivating poem Cristine shared during our interview:
Life doesn’t have to be pain. It could be glory.
You simply come here to write your own story.
We’ve all shown up on a very grand stage.
Some scenes are tough, but just turn the page.
Stay true to your character and trust in the script.
In the final reel much will be clipped.
Is your story written to make the cut?
Have you risen and prevailed, or stayed in a rut?
Have you literally forged a book of your own?
Do you star as a villain or a King on a throne?
The end of this Epic is not like the rest, w
ith a loser and winner like some tales suggest.
It’s not about getting the highest point score.
It’s all about connection and ending the war.
You see within each of us is both light and dark.
We’ve all the ingredients for a good character arc.
As we resolve our own battles, we see what is true.
There’s a magnificent director with a pivotal view.
When we acknowledge the plan and claim our own role,
We can relax in the knowing, and then watch it unfold.
Favorite Bible Story
Cristine loves the story of Paul from the Bible. He was an antagonist of Christians and those who followed Christ, and then one day he changed. He changed his name and his soul, and became absolutely devoted to Christ. Cristine says this absolutely describes her story. Like Paul, she has become zealous in lifting others.
Cristine says that to recover you have to do your work, which for her meant a 12 Step Program. She also recommends Emotions Anonymous which has 12 step resources for dealing with emotional issues. It can be a great help for families and addicts themselves. It helps you deal with feelings and work on emotional healing. Alcoholics Anonymous is another resource Cristine suggests for those who are struggling.
The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger institute is a fabulous recommendation for parents of children who are struggling. It kind of tells the story from parent’s perspective who drop their child off their teenager off at a rehab camp. And that’s where the solution begins. Cristine highly recommends this book because it points to parents, “doing your own work, and learning how to set boundaries. And you learn how to establish what’s okay in your sphere of influence, and do it with absolute love.”
Connecting With Cristine
You can visit Cristine’s website at cristineprice.com. On her website Cristine shares resources and has links to her books.
Christine’s lasting message is that the individual in trouble needs to buy in and be ready to make the choice to change. They need to do the work so they can learn, and be happy, and offer experiences to others. At the end of the day, everyone has a choice. And we have to let other people make their own choices and come to their own recovery, on their own time.