2017-06-01 / Front Page

She’s celebrating recovery

By TAMMY WELLS
Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — It bothers Kate Riley when she sees an account of a drug arrest in the local media. It bothers her, she said, because news stories of recovery from drugs or alcohol don’t run as frequently as the ones about arrests.

So when she was asked if she was in recovery and interested in telling her story, she said yes to both questions. She sat down with a Journal Tribune reporter on Tuesday.

Riley is 26, married, and the mother of three children. She said she’s been clean of alcohol and drugs for 14 months. And while there are obstacles remaining to conquer, she said she’s confident she’ll get there.

“Recovery is possible, no matter how hard it is,” said Riley. “One day at a time.”

Her own recovery, she said, began at Cumberland County Jail where she was sentenced to 110 days in 2016 for failing to appear in court on a theft charge.

She said since she’s been out of jail and back in Sanford, she's been taking part in a program at Curtis Lake Church called Celebrating Recovery. She saidshe is also active in recovery groups online, which helps when she can’t attend Celebrate Recovery meetings.

In jail, she attended 12-step groups, and benefited from the help of a mental health worker there, she said.

“That is where I realized there was not a psychiatrist, therapist or a social worker that could fix me,” Riley said. “I had to dig deep into myself and fix me. I figured out I was my own worst enemy. I had to figure my own way out.”

Riley said she grew up both out-of-state and in mid-Maine, shuffling between parents in an atmosphere she calls "toxic." During her school years, she was involved in athletics, theater, was on the math team and worked after school, she said.

“I was never a bad kid,” she said.

As a teenager, however, she said she quickly became enamored of alcohol — and started drinking at 13.

Then, she said, came the pills —  oxycodone, and Ambien — which is the trade name of a sleep aid called zolpidem tartrate — and others.

She married, and her children came along. But the alcohol and pill use continued, Riley said, and at one point she became extremely despondent and hit rock bottom.

“I got into the whole drug scene. I was meeting people with drugs, people selling drugs, my life was falling apart,” she said.

There were martial difficulties that resulted in a  split up for a time, and the stint at Cumberland County Jail.

Her woes aren’t over. Riley said she’ll be reporting to York County Jail soon, in connection with a theft conviction. Court records show Riley pleaded guilty to a Class C felony theft by deception charge — scamming someone out of $5,000 by telling them she worked for a mortgage company and could help with their foreclosure — which landed her a five year sentence with all but three months suspended, plus two years probation. There were other theft convictions too, involving an unpaid motel bill and a financial issue concerning rent. In a pre-sentence report, her attorney, Kevin Moynihan referred to what he called her dire financial situation at the time of the thefts, the fact she’s been working, and her year-long sobriety.

She hopes to be able to continue 12-step programs while incarcerated.

“When I get out I want to let recovery be heard,” she said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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