Rising from the Ashes - Michelle Kieca


Michelle Lynn Kieca
Location: Chicago
Michelle grew up in a family that suffered from alcoholism and depression. Her father drank a lot and her mother often took pills. Growing up -- her family moved quite a bit and she ended up going to three different high schools. She felt alone a good amount of the time until she started to make friends with a crowd that liked to party during her junior year of High School.

Drinking became prevalent in her life, Michelle got her first DUI at 19 and her second at 22. At age 24, she started taking pain pills; the combination of pills and alcohol made it difficult for her to hold a job. She eventually worked to get her license back, but when she was 30, she got her third DUI. One day, after work, she drank bottle after bottle and jumped in her car.

"I almost killed myself," Kieca recalled. "The accident left me with a broken femur and a shattered elbow -- they gave me medication and pills for my injuries, and I ended up abusing them."

At one point, Michelle was using nearly 250 pills worth of

amphetamines every month. She tried to get clean, but her struggle with addiction often got the best of her. She stole from her ex- husband and from her best friend and felt as if her life had completely spun out of control. Eventually, her actions caught up with her and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Shortly after her arrest, Michelle found out she was pregnant. Having no one to turn to and nowhere to go after spending time in jail, Michelle attempted suicide; an action that would lead to a miscarriage. Soon afterwards, Michelle's psychiatrist suggested that she seek help. Determined to make a full recovery, Michelle eventually found herself at the front door of Above and Beyond -- hoping that it would help her find peace of mind.

As fate would have it, Above and Beyond was exactly what Michelle needed to turn her life around.

"Most places teach you to treat your current problem and that's it, " says Kieca. "At Above and Beyond, they teach you how to treat your problem and they also teach you how to treat the symptoms, the underlying issues."

But Kieca says Above and Beyond offered more than just treatment.

"The thing about being an addict is that you feel so alone," she says. "Above and Beyond helps you get over the feeling of loneliness by putting you in a family; most everybody here has been in recovery and everyone here is relatable -- you feel like you're part of a huge family."

Kieca says her life has completely changed for the better since she joined Above and Beyond. In fact, she says it's helped her find her true calling, helping others -- especially people that have been in her situation.

"Above and Beyond has inspired me to go back to school to study social work and give back," Kieca says with a smile. "There have been so many people here that have helped me, that have inspired me, and someday -- I want to be that person for someone else."