A woman rises from the depths of drug addiction to help others at the Wayside Recovery Center

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Drug addiction in America – some call it a public health crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020 nearly 20% of women age 18 and older used illicit drugs.

One local woman knows the struggle well: she struggled with addiction for decades before turning to recovery.

Misty Helm’s struggle with drug addiction began at an early age.

“At 13, when I found drugs and alcohol, I was like this is it,” Helm said.

And from there, his addiction progressed. “When I was 21, I was introduced to methamphetamine, which ended up being my drug of choice,” Helm said.

She says the drugs served as an escape. When asked what triggered his drug use, Helm replied, “A trauma, a lot of trauma.”

A full-fledged IV meth user, the mother of three would lose custody of her three children and sometimes her freedom as well. “It probably wasn’t until the last four years of my addiction that I really started to get involved in criminal behavior,” Helm said. And then came a turning point. “This last time, which was October 21, 2017, was my last arrest, and I just knew I was done.”

Misty Helm sits down with FOX 9. (FOX 9)

Facing a long list of drug charges in Minnesota and long prison sentences in Wisconsin, at the age of 36, she hit rock bottom.

“There was nothing left, there was nothing left. I was spiritually bankrupt; I had no conscience. I was physically very sick,” Helm said.

And that’s when she decided to plead before a judge. “I told the judge the jail will still be here. But please give me the opportunity to do something different,” Helm said.

The judge ruled in his favor. Helm underwent a chemical dependency evaluation and began treatment at the Wayside Recovery Center in the Twin Cities. “They absolutely changed my life,” Helm said.

Today, she is 41 and sober for more than four years. “What it took was a place like Wayside to hug me and love me forever,” Helm said.

“Knowing that she’s doing well, thriving, and continuing her education,” said Teresa Evans, acting CEO of Wayside. “It’s the stories that keep us working.”

Wayside Recovery Center started out as a women’s shelter. That was over 65 years ago. Today, Wayside provides treatment and recovery services to hundreds of women each year. According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020, more than 19 million women aged 18 or older had used illicit drugs.

“There has been a huge increase in mental health needs,” Evans said.

“We’re recovering, we’re recovering. We’re not desperate,” Helm said. Restored, and on a new path. Helm’s is now helping other women find their way.

“I don’t believe there are ever wasted experiences, it’s all for something. And if we could use them to help the next person, then it was worth it,” Helm said.

Helm recently received certification as a peer-recovery specialist. On Thursday, Wayside will host its annual “Celebrate Hope” event. The celebration will raise awareness of Wayside’s services and support women like Misty. For more information, you can visit their website.

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