POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — An attorney afflicted with addiction hit rock bottom, but is now back on top. She addressed addicts who are on their road to recovery.
“I felt like I put a superwoman cape on and literally I could save the world. Simultaneously I missed the memo that said I would need these pills like oxygen,” said Laurie Besden.
Attorney Laurie Besden shared her story with drug treatment court participants in Schuylkill County. For Laurie, it started when she was just eight years old, at the dentist. But it wasn’t until she found cocaine that her addiction became apparent to those around her. She’d gone through college and law school without anyone noticing. But cocaine caused her to get in 29 car crashes, and got her arrested five times.
“Everyting has happened for a reason. Literally everything in my life. But if you told me that while I was sitting in jail, I never would have believed it,” she said.
After three incarcerations and three stints in rehab, Laurie is 14 years in recovery. At her worst, she was taking 55 pain pills a day and spending two thousand dollars a week on cocaine. She says her saving grace — being put behind bars for 11 months.
“I’m proof if someone’s given, well in my case a sixth chance, but if they’re given another chance, that sometimes you just never know when that miracle’s going to happen,” said Besden.
Drug treatment court wasn’t around to help Laurie, but it’s here to help today. Drug court supervisors say they bring speakers in to give participants proof that it does get better.
Laurie’s story isn’t as unique as you’d expect. A 2016 study found that one in three attorneys suffer from substance abuse disorder.
“It just shows that anyone can be addicted to drugs,” said Judge James Goodman.
Judge Goodman hopes Laurie’s story not only gives these participants hope, but also shows them they can go on to live productive lives. Laurie is currently an active attorney in the state of Pennsylvania and an executive director for a nonprofit.