Addiction: The road to recovery from meth, long and challenging

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb.-- Felonies, loosing friends, family ties and even her children didn't stop one North Platte woman from getting high on meth.

"You do end up blocking out all those emotions and hurt by using," said Jessica Carstensen.

Jessica has been in recovery from meth use for two years. She says she's been using on and off for 12 years.

"Nothing was going to stop me from using the drug. Not the tears and pleas from my family. Not my children," said the 30-year-old.

Jessica starting using at the age of 17. She said it wasn't peer pressure, it wasn't her friends, she wanted to try it. She said she sought it out and started using pretty heavily.

"I missed so many days they almost didn't let me graduate."

She used until she became pregnant with her daughter. Jessica said she was clean then picked up the bad habit again.

"I lost my family and my loved ones during that time. I did a lot of damage to my children. There is a lot of guilt there from what I did to them," she said.

In October of 2014 she lost guardianship of her daughter to her parents. In March of 2015, one week after her son was born, she lost custody to the state because of her addiction.

"I took it really hard when I heard those words i just kind of lost hope."

Jessica remembers that day in the courtroom. She said she lost the one thing that was important to her and became angry.

"I don't think one part of me thought that I should be mad at myself. I was mad at everyone else. I was mad at the judge, mad at the attorneys."

Jessica was then ordered to go to drug court, something she said she didn't want to do. But agreed, because the possibility of her son getting adopted out.

"They say you're supposed to work recovery for yourself, I haven't hit that part and stage of my life yet. Right now, I can honestly say I'm doing it for my children. Right now, I feel like it's important that my children have me in their lives. I realize the self-destruction that I did, to not only myself, but [what] I did to them."

She said in drug court she learned to create short and long term goals for herself. Her current goal is to get guardianship back from her parents...who are currently taking care of her daughter. Jessica said the classes also helped her self-esteem.

"For the first time, I realized that my life was unmanageable, I could not control it, everything had fallen apart. It was a huge mess and drug court just kind of helped get it back together."

She said the program saved her life, "As much as that hurts to say, I honestly believe I would still actively be using right now."

Looking back at her addiction Jessica said she had bigger plans and aspirations for her life.

"When I was younger I always had such big dreams. I was going to go to college, I was going to have this big fancy house. I was going to get married and do all of these great things. I'd pay for a house for my mom and pay for a house for my dad, and it all just seemed to get lost in there, and before long none of that stuff was important anymore, your dreams just kind of fade away."

But now, her dreams are slowly coming back together, as she battles addiction and struggles to stay clean.

"It's still up and down. Recovery is the hardest thing I've ever done. I still struggle with it. I'm not cured by any means."

Currently, Jessica is working a 12 step program. She has a sponsor, goes to counselors, takes weekly urine tests and is in phase four of drug court. She says at this stage they slowly move out of your life, but they are always there. "If you start to slip up, they are going to notice," she said.

She says drug court has offered her a second chance at life.