Participant #19

Carlee Hulsizer

23 years old

Committed relationship

Bio of Addiction

Carlee began using marijuana and alcohol between the ages of 12 and13 years old, while in middle school. Her parents divorced early in Carlee’s life and later lost her father to suicide. Both her mother and brother are currently in recovery.

“I have underlying mental health (issues) and I think that is why I picked up the first time. Feelings of inadequatcies, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences that really led me to find something outside of myself.”

“I cant remember exactly what I felt the first time but it took me outside of me and that’s what I wanted.”

“Connection, I wanted to feel connected into somewhere. I wanted to feel not so uncomfortable with who I was and I needed to connect to something. That something was drugs.”

“I began making really bad decisions. It (marijuana and alcohol use) began effecting my school work and my mental health. I wanted to die, the depression was really, really bad.”

Carlee later be diagnosed with both depression and bio polar disorder while in recovery.

“I think the more we talk about these things the less stigmatized they become. I’m pretty open about my life.”

Between junior and senior year in high school, at 17 years old, Carlee moved into her father’s home.

“I wanted to use, that was more important. I packed up what little I could not thinking it was summer and my father wouldn’t have winter clothing for me. I was young though.”

“I was drinking a lot and I was drinking a lot with him (her father). It was kind of like bonding. It’s sounds weird. It was odd because I’d get all these mixed messages from him. If you’re going to drink and smoke do it at home but I don’t want to see it. So a lot of mixed messages.”

“I look back I couldn’t identify the person in the mirror. I was locking myself in my room, wouldn’t come out, depressed. I stole money from my grandparents. In my defense I thought I was working part time and using that money for drugs and the money I would steal I would use for clothing and stuff. So I thought I wasn’t using the money I stole for drugs. It’s fine. Just trying to rationalize things.”

Turning point

“I ended up needing surgery for my gallbladder. If I hadn’t been using and took care of my body and going to the doctor, I probably wouldn’t of needed that surgery. I knew it was a serious thing. I would have to be taken care of so, I talked to my mom and we were already mending our relationship. I was like I want to move back in with you. Dad can’t take care of me. She had some conditions like, “don’t use in my house”.”

“My game plan was I can last throughout the school year (not using) and when college starts I can use again. Kind of rationalizing again.”

“My last use is March 22, 2014. I knew I had to be off the stuff before surgery.”

“After the operation I took pain meds four a few days and then I was like I’m done.”


Addiction 5 to 6 year

Recovery Attempts: 1

“Shortly after surgery my mom wanted to go to a 12 step meeting for her own recovery and she didn’t trust me home alone. So I went with her.”

“The particular meeting I went to had some younger people like in their 20s, still older than me but they were recovering. I was like finally some people I can connect with.”

“I had a misconception that you needed to be old to be in recovery. You need to use 20-30 years to be in recovery. I had a lot of misconceptions and once I saw young people doing this thing, I was like wow!, I can do it too.”

“I ended up deciding not going to go to college because I was afraid. I was afraid I was going to use. I asked around for some experience in that area. What do I do? They said, “well you can always go back to school.” I decided to take care of my recovery and put that first.”

Carlee quit her part time job and focused solely on her recovery. Carlee completed 90 meetings in 90 days, often going to multiple meetings in one day. Carlee is regularly seen at meetings completing her high school home work; trying to balance high school life and recovery life.

Carlee entered an out patient recovery program and attended group therapy 3 times a week initially. Her sessions are later reduced to 2 times a week. During the program Carlee chose to attend adult children of alcoholics meetings, and art therapy as specialty group therapy sessions.

“I did go to out patient. I was the youngest one there. Out patient was very frustrating for me. I started outpatient in June after I graduated.”

“Looking back, recovery is awesome, early recovery is hard. But its worth it. But it doesn’t have to be dragging your feet, you just do it. Easier said than done but, when you want it and you have the tools in place and utilize the tools that you have you got it.”

Life in recovery

5 years

“I’m a 12 Step person. I have my home group I go to every week and I’ll sometimes go to other meetings. But I don’t go as often as I use too. Because recovery has given me a lot of responsibilities and a whole new life. I do a lot of traveling for work now.”

“Now I get to work with people in recovery. It has come full circle.”

“It’s incredible! Everything happened at the perfect time. I get goose bumps thinking of it.”

“I truely believe no one is too far gone. I don’t care what you’ve done or what you’ve used. Unfortunately we have lost a lot of people. I’ve lost friends. I wonder why? They could of called me. It makes me really appreciate my own recovery and remember I’m going to stay on this track. Live in rememberance of them.”

“There’s a TED talk, that the opposite of addiction is community. I believe that 100%.”

“People helping one another. 12 Step have been doing that since the thirties. The program, the principles, and the value of the steps and what you have to do in recovery is absolutely perfect. People say they are flawed, of cause you are going to be flawed. People are not perfect.”

“Celebrate recovery! Develop a relationship with a higher power. I support multiple pathways, and get in where you fit in.”

“Even harm reduction, I’m all about that. Because it’s the next step. People can’t recover if their dead.”

“I know there is this stigma around methadone. That’s the next step. They are not stealing or prostituting. I can see it benifiting a lot of people. It’s hard enough that people not in recovery are judging, but people in recovery are judging too.”

Carlee was a cast member of Two Guys and Girl Radio talk show before its dissolution. Carlee is an active member in the Rochester community as a voice for recovery. She frequently attends task force meetings and helps develop and implement recovery related actives.

“I truely believe when we are making decisions on behalf of the recovery community, the recovery community should be involved in those decisions.”

“I was able to be a voice for my community and encourage other people (to be a voice too). We have a chance to voice our opinions to participate in events that different organizations are putting on. If they put on a wellness fair, the recovery community should show up instead of just professionals. I think thats what’s really important.”

“Because I was doing these things, thats how I got the job with Youth Voice Matters.”

Carlee works full time for Youth Voice Matters. She travels through the Finger Lakes, western region, southern tier, and central region of New York State for Youth Voice Matters. Youth Voice Matters cultivates alcohol and drug free communities in New York State for youth and adults up to 30 years old. Carlee is an integral participant in its development. She is the definition of what a youth recovery community is and how it is implemented across New York State. One of Carlees most important roles in her employment is to create methods to engage the community in recovery actives and service work. Her role is to oversee these communities and allow them to create safe recovery centers and activities that address each communities needs. Club houses have been established across New York State to host prevention, awareness, and recovery activities. Carlee over sees Club houses in Buffalo, Geneva, Oswego, and Elmira. She is constantly searching for methods to redefine the use and purpose of Club Houses in hopes to address the individual community needs. She is a vibrant voice of support and action for recovery in New York State.

12 Step home group


Christian Church

Works with children’s ministry in her church

Employment, Youth Voice Matters

Grass root activist

Volunteer Mission Recovery in Gates, New York


Give yourself a break. You’re not a bad person, you have a bad disease.

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