Produced by Dan Ryan for St Mary’s Medical Center

“Never in a million years did I think I would become an alcoholic at 40 years old,” says Kendra Kreie. “I had weight loss surgery and lost the weight, but all those reasons I ate were still there. So, I turned to alcohol. When you drink after weight loss surgery it acts differently in your body, and I got addicted very quickly.”

Kendra tried to battle her addiction on her own, but it didn’t work. “I tried and failed over and over again. One of those times I ended up in the St. Mary’s E.R. and was in a coma for 14 days. I was in intensive care for a very long time before waking up on a ventilator. My struggle from that point on was just to survive.”

Unfortunately for Kendra, things got worse, and she was involved in a terrible accident. “After the accident I was determined to do anything I could to not be in that spot again.”

Kendra was referred to Dr. Ryan Jackman and his team at the SCL Health Integrated Addiction Medicine Clinic, where she began intensive outpatient therapy with addiction specialist Dr. Jessica Stephen Premo.

“When I met her in clinic, I was excited to hear how motivated she was, says Dr. Jackman. “Her story is like many stories. People find a point in their life when they want to make a change and they’re not sure how. I was so glad to introduce her to Jessica and get her started in our outpatient program.”

While Kendra was in outpatient therapy, Dr. Jackman also closely monitored her medications. Kendra says that she had been using substances for a very long time and I didn’t want to do that anymore.  “I didn’t want to be addicted to pain medication.”

According to Dr. Jackman, his team worked to gradually get her off the medicines while still providing the relief she needed for her very real pain. “It’s not so much about replacing one substance for another, but to use medication to help the brain heal. It’s something we do every day. We look at where our patients are on an individual basis and use medication to help remove substances from their lives.”

“I am now over 600 days sober,” says Kendra. “There was a time when I couldn’t make it three weeks. It’s been extremely rewarding to have professionals who know what I’m going through to lead me through recovery. Thanks to Dr. Jackman and his team, my world is a whole lot different now.”

 “Taking your life back from addiction is not easy,” Dr. Jackman says, “but seeing people in recovery keeps me and my team going. It’s why we do what we do. Addiction is hard, but what’s on the other side is much better, even if it is hard.”

“To anyone who is worried about coming to see someone about addiction, I would tell them to forget that worry,” adds Kendra. “It’s so helpful to be able to tell someone what’s going on and be honest with them without being judged. Even if you stumble, you have people who care about you so you’re not just blindly trying to find your way through the dark. It’s really nice to have someone on your side. So don’t be afraid, don’t hesitate, don’t look back. Do it now.”